Advances in skin regeneration technology allow doctors to use a patient’s own skin cells to repair burns, scars, and blemishes
It is no surprise that few Americans have heard of the ReCell device. The FDA tends to take longer to approve new technologies and medicines than other countries, and this device is included. It has been approved in Europe, Canada, China, and Australia for almost a decade now, while the US patiently awaits its acceptance into medical use.
The ReCell device works by taking a biopsy of skin from an inconspicuous place, like behind the ear, and breaking it down in a solution bath. Then, the dermis is separated from the epidermis, mixed with another solution, and the cells are scraped off the skin with a scalpel. After the skin cells are strained, they can be sprayed onto the damaged area.
This process is similar to the way it functions for a baby in the mother’s womb. Parts of the body grow and develop during gestation, and new cells are formed. Scientists were confident there was a way to use stem cells to replicate this process on damaged or aging skin, and the answer couldn’t have been simpler or more brilliant. The results are amazing. In just a few short weeks, many patients notice skin recovery that is nearly flawless. The device allows skin to heal as well as, if not better than, skin grafts, in a fraction of the time and without recurring surgeries or other treatments. One treatment is all it takes to get the job done.
Aside from the terrible scarring and pain, the biggest risk factor in the healing process of severe burns is infection. The ReCell device gives doctors an effective way to treat the burn within the first few weeks, greatly reducing the chance of infection, minimizing scarring, and removing the severity of pain. The pain also diminishes quicker, as the affected area is “healed” in a matter of weeks, forgoing years of painful skin grafts and surgeries.
While ReCell technology has opened the door to similar techniques and devices, it is still the only one accepted for medical use in hospital settings throughout many areas of the world, and the only one currently under review by the FDA for use in the USA. At this time, the device only treats 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The damage of 4th degree burns radiates too deeply into underlying tissue, bone, and nerves. Still, with advances in stem cell research, regeneration techniques, and scientists’ ability to grow vital organs in a lab setting, nerve and bone repair caused from severe burns is not an unrealistic reality in the near future.
Aside from the treatment of burns, the ReCell device is quickly becoming an aggressive option for other painful conditions. It is used by doctors and plastic surgeons for removing scars and acne marks, treating pigment discoloration, and helping to rebuild dead or missing tissues plaguing amputees and trauma victims.
In the United States, the ReCell device was approved by the FDA to begin clinical studies involving 20 patients at one of four testing sites. It is a long road ahead before FDA approval, but it is anticipated that ReCell will ultimately pass the test. Americans may soon be fortunate enough to get a spray-on skin treatment in the foreseeable future. Currently, in countries using ReCell as an approved medical device, the procedure costs about $6,500 USD. Considering the cost of prior methods of treatment and follow-up, this is a miracle device at a bargain price which will certainly be appreciated by medical insurance companies immediately following its American release.