As I transition from the Dental and Aesthetics team and join the Orthopedics team, the similarities between the two teams has been striking. In particular, there are some products that have therapeutic uses in the orthopedic space which can also be used for purely aesthetic applications. As an aside, a number of the aesthetic products covered by the D&A team were discovered accidentally during experimentation for therapeutic products. Though not related to orthopedics per se, BOTOX is the big one that comes to mind?its aesthetic application having been discovered by a team of Canadian ophthalmologists who, in the early ?90s, noticed the diminishment of brow wrinkles in patients treated for blepharospasm with botulinum toxin. There are also a couple of examples of therapeutic crossovers that pertain specifically to the aesthetics and orthopedics space that I have encountered since changing teams:
1. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid, when used as a facial injectable, can restore lost facial volume as a result of the (very natural) aging process (see our Facial Injectables report series for more information). Overuse of the product, however, can result in the dreaded chipmunk cheeks.
In the ortho space, the product is delivered the same way (through a syringe), but has a vastly different application: namely, to lubricate the joints (see our Hyaluronic Acid Viscosupplementation report series for more information), thus easing the symptoms associated with arthritis.
2. Skin rejuvenation/replacement
Avita Medical has a product in development called Acell (for therapeutic purposes) and ReNovaCell (for aesthetic applications).
On the therapeutic side, the product is purported to create an autologous skin graft for burn patients in a mere 30 minutes, with an expansion ratio of 1:80, meaning that very little tissue is required from the donor site in order to obtain an autologous graft eighty times larger than the donor site. Besides the obvious benefits associated with harvesting a large graft out of a small amount of tissue, the short processing time also allows for burns to be treated in very little time, which can aid not only in the healing of the wound, but also the appearance of scars.
Speaking of appearance, ReNovaCell utilizes the same technology, but for aesthetic applications. The principle is largely the same?harnessing the regenerative properties of a patient's own skin?but in this case, it is used to treat a variety of indications including scars, areas of discolouration, or to restore normal pigmentation of skin. The procedure is fairly invasive vis-à-vis minimally invasive treatments which are gaining in popularity, such as laser resurfacing treatments, so it will be interesting to see how it is received amongst plastic surgeons and patients.
3. Orthognathic surgery
Valentina recently covered a growing trend in South Korean plastic surgery. She explains, ?Orthognathic surgery involves a bone-cutting procedure?Le Fort I in conjunction with a bilateral sagittal split osteotomy being most common? that realigns the upper and lower jaws where the two main nerves, the trigeminal and lingual nerve, are located. As a result, it can be extremely complex and dangerous, particularly when performed by general plastic surgery practitioners and in those patients who do not suffer from severe functional problems, and can result in increasing serious complications, including irreversible nerve damage and death.? It seems that some are willing to go to great lengths to achieve a certain standard of beauty, no matter the cost.
In sum, many aesthetic procedures have therapeutic counterparts. Companies like Avita Medical are wise to capitalize on the lucrative aesthetic and therapeutic markets by developing a product that can be used for both purposes. Of course, as is the case with BOTOX, it's not always possible to foresee alternative applications of therapeutic procedures, but if the bottom line is the main concern, it can?t hurt to investigate potential aesthetic applications of therapeutic products and treatments. That being said, I condone neither the bottom line nor elective procedures for purely aesthetic purposes. This is Kristina, officially signing off from the Aesthetics team, reminding you to accept yourself as you are.