Regenerative medicine, laser technologies, 3D printing and other tools offer much promise for the future. Besides the potential to treat life-threatening health issues, these methods can help improve emotional and psychological well-being. Breast cancer survivors, individuals suffering from deformities, burn patients and transgender people are just a few of the many groups who stand to benefit. These innovative breakthroughs may not only improve one’s appearance, but also transform the body.
Regenerative Medicine Produces Stunning Innovations
One area of research that could yield massive benefits is regenerative medicine. Simply put, this field focuses on the generation, growth and replacement of human tissue and organs. In some cases, the intent is to restore normal form and function to damaged body parts. Nevertheless, research continues for new applications to aid in reconstructive treatments as well as other groundbreaking options.
Recently, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons detailed a broad range of techniques used in regenerative medicine. Tissues, drugs, cells, devices and synthetic biomaterials are utilized to heal major injuries and for partial reconstruction of body parts. For instance, plastic surgeons have led the way in employing protein scaffolds to repair serious skin damage inflicted by burns. Another example is decellularized tissue scaffolds, which are used to produce new layers of tissue over implants in breast reconstruction for cancer survivors.
Regenerative Medicine Also Includes Laser Treatments
Noninvasive, nonsurgical techniques for the regrowth of new cells and tissue are also commonplace in many plastic surgery practices, thanks to research and breakthroughs within the last few decades. Some typical skin complaints, such as age spots and minor scarring, can be targeted and corrected through a few sessions of laser treatments. Therapies such as intense pulsed light technology can treat hyperpigmentation, sun exposure damage, and acne, as well as provide safe and gradual hair removal opportunities.
3D Printing Offers Many Possible Uses in Medicine
It’s no surprise that researchers are looking to 3D printing for possible solutions to serious medical problems. Although the technology has been around since the mid-1980s, recent advancements have drawn attention to its potential in manufacturing, medicine and other fields. Its capacity for adding material to build three-dimensional shapes is what makes it such an encouraging development, with innovative thinkers seeking ways to make the impossible a reality.
In medical applications, the same processes are usually known as 3D bioprinting. Similar to the production of non-organic materials, this method constructs an object by printing along three axes: x, y and z. However, it utilizes a complex matrix of many different biomaterials to shape the needed tissues or parts. The Harvard Business Review described some astounding applications in healthcare in a March 2016 article, including facial prosthetics and reconstructed ears. Additionally, medical technology and biotech expert Bruce Eaton Ph.D. frequently reports on this and similar advancements on his website.
This ability to generate or “print” tissues and organs has enormous ramifications, especially for organ, limb or tissue recipients. Because our immune systems are tooled to ward off infections, they also recognize newly added donor tissue as foreign and will fight to prevent its integration. Immunosuppressant drugs are needed in these cases, usually for the rest of the recipient’s life. The high risk of infection and other complications can severely limit one’s quality of life. The possibility of producing one’s own organs, limbs or other bodily structures could make tissue rejection a thing of the past.
Ramifications for Challenging Medical Issues
Often, the mention of cosmetic or other kinds of surgeries that drastically alter the body’s appearance can be considered controversial. This is usually due to misunderstandings around why patients seek these treatments. Additionally, there’s a common assumption that the desire to change one’s body or appearance is rooted in vanity. However, some individuals gain improved self-confidence, as well as align their minds and bodies for a harmonious self-image and emotional existence. For these reasons, continued research and breakthroughs in these areas are critical.
Given such issues, it’s also important to understand that technological advancements in these areas could provide better results than currently available treatment methods. For instance, gender confirmation surgery is intended to help a transgender person find peace of mind and comfort with his or her body. Potentially, technologies such as 3D printing as well as advancements in regenerative medicine may aid patients in achieving increased functioning, permitting possibilities that are not possible right now with medical science.
Improved Health for Both Body and Mind
While most of the headline-making developments in medicine often focus on conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, innovations that have the potential to transform human bodies should not be ignored. 3D printing, laser technologies, regenerative medicine and other advancements could pave the way for many individuals to enjoy enhanced health, better functioning and feeling at home in their bodies. Furthermore, they stand a good chance of solving complex medical puzzles that baffle professionals in the field today.