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The aesthetics space is largely defined by injectables, lasers, and topical treatments: Botox, filler, and IPL lasers are commonly thrown around in colloquial conversation. But the other side of aesthetics covers a completely reverse approach. “It’s not all about what we do to our patients from the outside-in. We are trying to harness the power of our own cell regeneration,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julie Russak. “We are starting more and more heavily relying on stimulating our cells to regenerate.” For the past few years, that’s involved plasma-rich platelet injections that use a patient’s own blood to spur hair regeneration or collagen production (think: Vampire facial). More recently, the discussion has pivoted, hard and fast, to something called Exosome Therapy.
“Exosomes seem to be the new hot thing in the search for the fountain of youth,” states Dr. Sanjay Batra, a regenerative medicine specialist and founder of WeThrivv. Even though exosomes were discovered nearly four decades ago, it’s only recently that their existence has infiltrated the aesthetics conversation in the US. Unsurprisingly, Korea was an early adopter—exosome-based skin boosters have been common practice for years. Now? You’ll find dermatologists and plastic surgeons across the globe discussing exosomes’ potential to stimulate collagen and elastin, or upend the approach to hair growth. Skincare brands are inching in on the conversation, with brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm, Elevai, and ExoCel, a K-beauty brand, releasing over-the-counter products that leverage exosomes’ regenerative powers.
The space, which also has legs in more extreme biohacking (do-it-yourself biology) and regenerative medicine circles, is not regulated by the FDA. The consensus held by top doctors: Optimistic caution. “Exosomes is a very fast-growing field,” says Dr. Russak, who recently returned from a regenerative aesthetics conference in Europe where the topic was all the rage. “The biggest challenge that we are facing right now, like with anything that is new in development in medicine and science, is that it’s not regulated.”