Skin Replacement: The Medical and Cosmetic Implications of Bioprinting

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In terms of treatment, 3D printing is revolutionizing the medical industry in many ways. 3D printing technology is currently being used to make everything from affordable prosthetics to tailor-made joints, bone scaffold and heart valves. One of the latest advancements in 3D printing is bioprinting real human tissue. Skin replacement has obvious cosmetic benefits, but it also has important medical and pharmaceutical implications that may be of interest to seniors and their caregivers in Wallingford.

Bioprinting is capable of using a patient’s own cells to create skin grafts, complete with sweat glands and hair follicles, although the technology is still in early stages. A team of engineers in 2014 won an award for the PrintAlive Bioprinter, which is capable of engineering large-scale tissue that could be used to treat burns and other injuries on demand. This technology can be especially important in burn treatment, as deep burns are traditionally treated by harvesting skin from other parts of the body, but this is not always possible. 

This technology may be used to print skin directly onto burn wounds but also replace muscle and treat genital injuries. Researchers at Wake Forest Institute are currently focusing on bioprinting with an emphasis on military injuries such as those resulting from explosive devices to improve reconstructive procedures.

Several companies are also exploring skin-printing technology to further research in cosmetics and diseases. Artificially produced human skin can provide a safe way for companies to test products without using animals or human volunteers. Eventually, this technology can be used to create different types of skin, such as sensitive skin, to explore everything from anti-aging treatments to new topical drugs. L’Oreal already has a large lab in France that produces its patented skin, called Episkin, from skin cells donated by surgery patients. These cells are grown in collagen then exposed to UV light and air to mimic the effects of natural aging. Using these skin samples, L’Oreal tests its ingredients and produces more accurate results to tweak anti-aging products for greater efficacy. 

While skin is already being printed today, it’s a long and labor-intensive process. The L’Oreal lab, for example, only produces 54 square feet of artificial skin per year. Within five years, researchers predict bio-printed skin will have wider applications to help everyone, including seniors, with a range of cosmetic and medical benefits from expediting recovery after surgery to improving anti-aging medicine.

While scientists work to improve this technology, seniors and their families can turn to Home Care Assistance of New Haven for help managing illness and injury. We provide flexible live-in and hourly home care Wallingford seniors need to help them recuperate from surgery and manage diseases in the comfort of home. Our dedicated caregivers help with a wide range of activities including personal care assistance, housekeeping, meal preparation, and mobility training. To learn more about how we can help your loved one achieve the golden years he or she deserves, call (203) 444-8575 and schedule a free in-home consultation.


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