Cosmetic procedure grows patients' own cells

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. - The latest cosmetic injection utilizes a patient's own cells that are grown in a lab to rebuild collagen.

Cells are the key to life but they age as we do. That means the cells responsible for our youthful appearance die off over time.

"It's a fact of life, and you could say not a pretty one at that," said dermatologist Dr. Frederic Brandt.

Brandt became one of the first doctors in South Florida to work with a new approach recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

"It's called LaViv and it uses a patient's own cells to regrow collagen," said Brandt.

The process begins by removing three small patches of skin from the patient's neck or lower back.

"These are about the size of an eraser head and this really doesn't leave a scar," said Brandt.

The pieces of skin are then sent off to a lab to grow fresh collagen cells.

"The cells are separated and the fibroblasts, or the cells that grow your own collagen and elastin in your skin, are grown," said Brandt.

It takes about three months to grow the necessary number of cells, which are then vacuum packed and sent back to the doctor's office for injection.

"The great thing is, once the cells are stored, you can keep growing more for use in the future. It's like having beauty in the bank," said Brandt.

A series of three injections a month are typically needed to achieve optimum results.

The cost of the series of treatments is about $5,000, slightly higher than other injectables because of the initial cost of harvesting and growing the cells.

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