More and more, stem cells are becoming a hot topic of conversation throughout the medical community. In aesthetics, we often hear about them in use for fat transfer procedures, but the reach goes much farther and into every branch of medicine including cardiology and neurology.
"We're going to see stem cells profuse through every area of medicine, so I think they could be a very exciting adjunct to our scar treatments," says Dr. Jill Waibel, a dermatologist in south Florida who is pioneering the use of fractional lasers for treating burn scars. She says that in the current scientific and political climate, it's become more appropriate to discuss the use of stem cells. "5 years ago, it really was the correct thing because we were thinking about using the stem cells from the uterus, the umbilical cord, and that was going to create a black market for killing fetuses. So it was really appropriate at the time that we had some strict legislation against it, but now that we have lines and that we've learned how to use our own autologous stem cells to transfer to ourselves, I think that both the political and the scientific community has moved forward and it's extremely exciting."
There is already some very interesting research being done on the multiple uses of stem cells. As Dr. Waibel describes, "We know that fat is enriched with a lot of stem cells, but really we're not - our autologous use of stem cells can really be much better, and I think we'll see much more efficient deliveries, and I think we'll be able to, hopefully, grow a pancreas over here in the petri dish and pop it right in, and if your kidney goes bad tomorrow, we'll grow a kidney for you. So I do see it going in a much more efficient direction and even at my center at the University of Miami... imagine a piece of bacon, and we can put cardiac growth factors on it, and imagine the piece of bacon beating."
"We're going to make Parkinson's, and all the human suffering, Huntington's, Lou Gehrig's disease - all these terrible diseases, we're going to be able to reverse.... I think the potential for success of better quality of life and to decrease human suffering, we should not abandon it, or be scared of it," says Dr. Waibel.