What are growth factors? They are protein secretions of cells that comprise the epidermis (outer layer of skin) and the dermis (the inner or true skin). These cells include the keratinocytes (hardy cells on the top layer of the skin that forms a barrier between you and the outer world), melanocytes (melanin producing cells) and fibroblast cells (collagen, elastin forming cells and the gel like matrix that keeps them young and supple).
What is the function of growth factors?
a)They send out chemical messages to promote skin tissue repair and regeneration after an injury or trauma to the skin;
b) They promote the formation of collagen and elastin to diminish lines and wrinkles and keep the skin tight and supple;
c) Please understand that everything in our body works in synergy and in the same fashion, no single growth factor works in isolation to rejuvenate your skin. They all work together to give you the final outcome.
There are many types of growth factors but I shall mention just a few key names and they mostly fall under an umbrella name which is EGF or Epidermal Growth Factors.
TGF: transforming growth factor = stimulates collagen;
HGF: hepatocyte growth factor = stimulates formation of new blood vessels;
KGF: keratinocyte growth factors = stimulate the cells of the uppermost layer of skin;
Interleukins (IL 6.7 & 8): reduce inflammation;
Since these Growth Factors act like hormones and can impact on growing, multiplying and repairing cells, they are used not only for skin rejuvenation but also for healing the skin after it has been wounded or traumatized in any manner. By the same token, then, it can proliferate (multiply) mutant cells such as cancerous cells too. It CANNOT cause cancer but it can reproduce cells that are cancerous and that should be left alone. Unfortunately, it does not have that mechanism to discern between the good and the bad and, hence, I ask you to refrain from using Growth Factors if you have a genetic propensity towards cancer based on your family history.
On the positive side, Growth Factors can give you absolutely amazing results with your ageing skin. We have two types of Ageing:
1) INTRINSIC AGEING (natural or biological ageing)
a) the amount of collagen decreases by at least 1% a year;
b) skin cells stop multiplying;
c) elastin fibers are degraded and damaged and start causing laxity and sagging:
2) EXTRINSIC AGEING (external or environmental factors)
These include, smoking, alcohol, lack of sleep, stress, prescription drugs, recreational drugs and most importantly, sun exposure without protection. These can lead to:
- lines and wrinkles
- broken blood vessels
- enlarged pores
Growth Factors cannot treat all these conditions but they can definitely contribute towards alleviating and in some case, completely resolving these skin issues. I have personally seen with my own clients, a tightening and diminishing of lines and wrinkles and a very noticeable glow to the skin.