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Stem Cells and Growth Factors: What You Should Know

By: Ben Johnson, MD
Posted: April 1, 2014, from the April 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Stem Cells and Growth Factors: What You Should Know

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In summary, stem cells are definitely going to be part of the future of esthetic medicine, but their role in skin care remains a question. And although plant stem cells often act more like plant extracts, using human stem cells to make IPS cells that become fibroblasts; using stem cells that are encouraged to act like fibroblasts in the growth media; and using fibroblasts directly are all ways of growing the more than 150 different growth factors and cytokines naturally found in the skin. This is preferable to using one or two growth factors because they are more stable—it creates a more balanced anti-aging approach, and it replenishes everything that is lost instead of over-emphasizing one aspect of wound-healing.

No matter which product you select, growth factors are only a minor part of what is needed to achieve actual dermal thickening. The number of fibroblasts, the skin’s overall nutritional supply, immune cells and collagen-activators all decline as clients age. To make growth factors work optimally, they need to be combined with ingredients that can overcome these other bottlenecks in the age-reversing process.


K Takahashi, K Tanabe, et. al., Induction of Pluripotent Stem Cells from Adult Human Fibroblasts by Defined Factors, Cell 131 5 861–872 (2007)

YB Kwon, HW Kim, et. al., Topical application of epidermal growth factor accelerates wound healing by myofibroblast proliferation and collagen synthesis in rat, J Vet Sci 7 2 105–109 (Jun 2006)