Over the past years, it is quite difficult to deny that physical appearance is part of the ingredients for someone to succeed. Recent surveys and research results show that people who look good get more opportunities at employment, customer service, and promotions. It is not surprising, then, that those who are not well-endowed or ‘blessed’ with socially-accepted ideal physical traits can afford plastic surgery would resort to getting one. The attention and interest in medical advancements and innovations in reconstructive and aesthetic surgery are definitely undeniable. Here are some of the latest plastic surgery advancements people would want to get a hold of today.
Over the last decade, virtual reality, haptics (kinaesthetic communication or 3D touch), simulators, robotics, and other “advanced technology” procedures have materialized as a significant improvement in medical education and profession. Reports on these credible medical advancements and applications in medicine now appear in medical, computer science, engineering, and popular journals and literature. These plastic surgery innovations would certainly shape how reconstructive and aesthetic surgery procedures would look like in the next decades.
3D vascularized artificial skin
Skin grafts are used to replace a part of the body’s skin after surgical correction of a disease like cancer or an injury like burns. Healthy sections of skin from a concealed part of the body is ‘harvested’ and transplanted to the surgical site so that the function and appearance of that specific part may be restored. The problem with this procedure is that it creates further complications pertaining to the donor site, risking it to develop an infection or cause pain and discomfort to the patient. Scientists then studied ways on how to provide artificial skin grafts. What they found out with this new kind of skin replacement is that it has the tendency to erode or get rejected by the body because they do not have the functional vascular or blood circulation that the human skin naturally has.
With the medical advancements of persistent scientists that want to improve skin grafting, they have come up with artificial skin grafts that are developed through 3D printing with its own vascular system. Yes! According to the researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, the new skin implant is made by 3D printing using a biocompatible ink containing fibroblasts, endothelial cells, pericytes, collagen, and other essential components to pattern the vascularized inner layer of the skin called the dermis. They cultured this in a test tube until it matures and was tried a sample on mice. The testing determined that the grafts successfully connected to the local vasculature of the mouse, and the epithelial extensions were able to bind with the connective tissue beneath the mouse’s skin. This plastic surgery development would cater to patients with diabetes and bedridden patients who have pressure ulcers. Because these types of wounds require smaller pieces of skin replacements, the introduction of an artificial 3D printed artificial skin graft may be feasible. Though wound healing may take considerably longer for diabetic patients, it can be presumed that using this medical advancement can speed up the process.
Double-sided surgical tape for rapid tissue binding
One of the risks of undergoing surgery is the presence of infection on surgical wounds. In theory, it would have been easier for two things to adhere to each other if their surfaces are both dry. However, in the case of the body’s skin, water and other bodily fluids like blood make it harder and longer for wounds to seal and bind tissues together. So when researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a double-sided adhesive tape that replaces surgical glues that surgeons often use, the appreciation to its discovery is evident.
In plastic surgery, one of the most disappointing results a patient can complain about is scar formation. Scars make the surgical enhancement look fake, so patients would want to have marks as little and as concealed as possible. Now, with the use of this new double-sided surgical tape, the entire process of sticking skins together takes only five seconds! The idea that the researchers came up with was inspired by spider webs. These tensile threads are sticky even when exposed to water, so they devised a way to use materials that trap water molecules first so that the surfaces become dry and adhesion becomes possible. The new tape relies on polyacrylic acid to absorb water from a tissue surface and form a temporary bond. Then, compounds called NHS esters in the tape form much stronger bonds with tissue proteins. They tested this innovation on rat hearts and found out that the surgical tape even allows medical implants to stick effectively on internal organs!
How would we know if a surgical wound is infected? Our surgeons would typically say that we should watch out of clinical signs and symptoms of infection, like redness, pain, bleeding or pus formation, and swelling. Now, wouldn’t it be cool to know that your doctor can easily detect infection even before these signs and symptoms exist? This is what MolecuLight i:X is aiming to provide patients and doctors alike.
MolecuLight is a handheld fluorescence imaging device that detects the presence of bacteria on wounds and indicates them spontaneously to the user using red highlighting. Microscopically, the device can detect infection on wounds with a bacterial load of >104 CFU/g (colony-forming units per gram). Typically, wound infection can only be identified in its advanced stages, with the aforementioned sign and symptoms. But now that the FDA cleared this product for marketing and clinical distribution, patients and surgeons would really benefit from this device as success rates of post-operative care and satisfaction would be achieved without the risk of developing complications.
A bandage that does not stick to the wound
We have mentioned skin grafts earlier and the hassle for the skin replacements to not be effective when it comes to sealing the wounds. Well, bandages are also used for almost all surgical wounds in plastic surgery, and they also aim to prevent dehiscence or reopening of the wound after surgery. Currently, surgeons and plastic surgery patients encounter problems with using bandages, especially when replacing them because they stick to the wound. This scenario prevents blood clotting and faster wound healing. Researchers at ETH Zurich and National University of Singapore have now developed a new type of wound dressing that would not stick to the surgical site while helping blood to clot beneath it. This discovery is made by accident, while the researchers are finding ways to develop a material for coating heart and lung-assistive devices and artificial hearts. They actually came up with superhydrophobic materials that repel blood and also aid the body’s natural blood-clotting process. They then made it to a bandage using the newly-invented blood-repelling material and mixing it with silicone and carbon nanofibers. An additional benefit of this wound dressing is its antibacterial properties since the bacteria is found to struggle sticking to the material as well.