Adipocytes, also known as lipocytes, are fat cells found in the skin that specialize in storing energy as fat. However, when a wound heals and forms a scar, these fats cells vanish.
The cells most commonly found in a healing wound are called myofibroblasts and it was thought that their job was to assist with scar formation. One unique factor with scar tissue is that it doesn’t have any hair follicles associated with it, which gives it an abnormal appearance from the rest of the skin.
In January of 2017, researchers announced they are proving it is possible to change these myofibroblasts into fat cells, which, in turn, eliminates scarring.
“Essentially, we can manipulate wound healing so that it leads to skin regeneration rather than scarring,” said George Cotsarelis, MD, the chair of the Department of Dermatology and the Milton Bixler Hartzell Professor of Dermatology at Penn, and the principal investigator of the project. “The secret is to regenerate hair follicles first. After that, the fat will regenerate in response to the signals from those follicles.”
The study showed hair and fat develop separately but not independently. Hair follicles form first, and the Cotsarelis lab previously discovered factors necessary for their formation. Now they’ve discovered additional factors actually produced by the regenerating hair follicle to convert the surrounding myofibroblasts to regenerate as fat instead of forming a scar. That fat will not form without the new hairs, but once it does, the new cells are indistinguishable from the pre-existing fat cells, giving the healed wound a natural look instead of leaving a scar.
See the full post here: Using Fat to Help Wounds Heal Without Scars
Scar minimization is one of the reasons many people seek cosmetic surgery. Whether it is a result of an injury, accident, burn, or acne, the skin does its best to recover but the result is many times less than pleasing to people, especially if the scarring is easily visible.
In Southern California, where the beautiful warm weather warrants less clothing, the chances of having a more visible scar is higher. Doctors are constantly searching for techniques that help their patients feel and look good, and eliminating scarring is high on their list.
Finding a way to help skin regenerate normally rather than as scar tissue is a huge breakthrough in the world of cosmetic surgery. This video from UC Irvine offers more on this topic:
The cost of removing a scar can be expensive depending on the type of revision, but you can’t put a price tag on feeling good and having confidence. Facial scars are especially distressing, so the goal has typically been to be disguise the scar or minimize its prominence.
The research into using fat cells to transform the way a wound heals is so new, it may be a while before this treatment is available to the general public. So, for now people are still choosing between the following scar revision techniques:
- Topical products
- Steroid injections
- Laser removal
- Surgical removal
Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. Prices for scar revision procedures can vary. A surgeon’s cost for scar revision may vary based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used, as well as geographic location.
Scar Revision Cost May Include:
- Surgeon’s fee
- Hospital or surgical facility costs
- Anesthesia fees
- Prescriptions for medication
- Post-surgery garments
- Medical tests
Hopefully with the new research in replacing scar tissue with fat cells so that the area looks normal, most of the previous types of treatments will eventually become unnecessary.