A new category of facial rejuvenation procedures that is attracting a lot of attention among dermatologists and plastic surgeons involves the use of human tissues. For anyone who balks at the idea of foreign substances, this expanding category includes harvesting your own fat cells, plasma rich fibrin matrix (PRFM or PRP) that is made with your own blood, and human fibroblasts from your own skin cells. Enter laViv™ (azficel-T) mylaviv.com.
The laViv technology was formerly known as Isolagen, which had a somewhat checkered past in other parts of the world, particularly in the U.K.. However, the new laViv was approved by the US FDA for aesthetic use, which the old Isolagen never was, so that milestone alone is surely a step in the right direction.
The process is straightforward enough – First you go to your doctor who extracts your fresh and lively fibroblast cells from a small skin sample typically behind your ear. These cells are then shipped directly to the Fibrocell Science lab where they go forth and multiply. When they have had a chance to grow into hundreds of millions of new fibroblast cells, which normally takes about 90 days, you go back to your doctor and have your own cells injected into facial lines, folds and wrinkles. According to Fibrocell, the final laViv product that gets injected is at least 98% pure fibroblasts. Your cells are frozen and kept in storage for future treatment sessions.
According to Dr. Girish Munavalli, Medical Director, Dermatology, Laser, and Vein Specialists of the Carolinas, PLLC, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, one of the laViv clinical investigators, “We recommend three laViv treatments, spaced at least three weeks apart, to achieve the desired results. Patients can also come back for additional treatments as needed.” Although the FDA approval is specifically for the nasolabial folds (nose-to-mouth lines), many physicians are using laViv for areas all over the face, chest and even hands or any portion of skin in need of regeneration.
The main appeal of laViv is that it is essentially your own skin cells that are being injected, so there is no chance of allergy or foreign body reaction. But this is not an instant or quick fix. It may take several months to see the gradual effects on skin texture and signs of aging, and there is no data yet to confirm how long the effects last beyond six months. Individual results will vary based on your skin condition, age, degree of damage, as well as the doctor’s injection technique and how many of your little fibroblasts are injected.
Other indications are in the Fibrocell pipeline – including acne scars and potential therapeutic uses. The exciting thing about fibroblasts is that they have the ability to improve skin texture and play a role in wound healing and tissue repair, so this technology may have widespread applications in the future.