Dermapen Solution] Growth Factors and Stem Cells Thoroughly Explained

Hello, I am a doctor at Smart Skin Clinic, a cosmetic dermatology clinic.

Recently, we often see the terms "growth factor" and "stem cell (stem cell culture medium)" used in lotions, serums, and beauty treatment formulations.
For example, "Benev," "Babyskin," "AmnioGenics," "Premium Cell," "Rejuran," and other formulations used in dermapen.

Do you know what these "growth factors" and "stem cells" are?

In this issue, we will answer these questions from a cosmetic dermatologist's point of view.
If you are interested in growth factors (growth factors) and stem cells (stem cell culture medium), or if you have always wanted to know the difference, please refer to this page.


Preparations used in dermapen|Functional and cell-derived ingredients

There are two types of ingredients that make up beauty formulations: functional ingredients and cell-derived ingredients.

  • So-called beauty ingredients → functional ingredients
  • Growth factors (growth factors) and stem cell culture fluid are typical cell-derived ingredients

Functional ingredients may be reworded as cosmetic ingredients, but in this article I would like to use the term functional ingredients to unify the two.

What is the difference between functional ingredients and cell-derived ingredients?

Functional ingredients can be said to provide a supplemental effect, supplementing the ingredients needed for the expected effect.
Specific ingredients include hyaluronic acid and vitamin C derivatives.
Functional ingredients are considered to have an immediate effect, but are often short-lived and require continuous use.

Cell-derived ingredients, on the other hand, can be described as ingredients that increase or grow the very cells that make up the skin. This is because they directly promote regeneration and repair at the cellular level and can be expected to have lasting effects.
It takes some time before the effect is felt, but it is characterized by a lasting effect.

Functional ingredients|vitamins, amino acids, hyaluronic acid, etc.

Earlier, we explained that "functional ingredients are those that supplement and provide supplementary effects necessary for the expected effect" and "can be categorized as moisturizing, antioxidant, whitening, etc.".

Typical ingredients are summarized in the table below.

Expected EffectsComponent
moisturizerHyaluronic acid ・Glycerin ・Ceramide ・Urea(lessening the significance or value of the previous word) the likes of
skin whiteningVitamin C derivative ・Arbutin ・Tranexamic acid ・Kojic acid(lessening the significance or value of the previous word) the likes of
antioxidantVitamin E (tocophenol) ・Retinol (vitamin A) ・CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10) ・Ferulic acid(lessening the significance or value of the previous word) the likes of
anti-inflammatoryAllantoin - Chamomile extract - Bisabolol - Azelaic acid(lessening the significance or value of the previous word) the likes of
Anti-agingPeptides(lessening the significance or value of the previous word) the likes of
keratin careAHA (fruit acids) ・BHA (salicylic acids) ・PHA (polyhydroxy acids)(lessening the significance or value of the previous word) the likes of
Pore CareNiacinamide (vitamin B3) - Tea extract(lessening the significance or value of the previous word) the likes of
List of effects of typical functional ingredients

In this table, we have divided the data by 1 component = 1 effect for convenience.

However, many functional ingredients provide multiple cosmetic benefits, not just a single effect.

You will learn more about each component when you examine them.

Since this article is mainly about cell-derived ingredients, I will limit my description of functional ingredients to this, albeit brief.

Cell-derived ingredients|growth factors, stem cells (stem cell culture medium), exosomes, etc.  

Cell-derived ingredients are characterized by "cell regeneration and repair" and can directly approach the very cells that make up the skin.
In other words, it provides multifunctional ingredients that promote the regeneration and repair of the cells that make up the skin and help maintain healthy, youthful skin.

Specifically, there are growth factors, stem cells (stem cell culture medium), and exosomes.

These can be further subdivided, and I will explain each of them.

 What are Growth Factors (GF)?

Growth factors are proteins secreted by various cells. In the aesthetic field,Especially EGF, FGF, PDGF, IGF-1, TGF-βGrowth factors such as these have an important role.

The effects and actions of these growth factors are not restricted to specific tissues or cells, but can have a variety of effects on several different cell types, including growth promotion, differentiation induction, and repair promotion.
While each growth factor exerts a variety of actions, several growth factors have overlapping effects on the same action.
*Differentiation means that another cell is produced from a stem cell (changes into a different cell). Example: fibroblast → elastin, collagen, hyaluronic acid
*Stem cells can change into different cells through differentiation, but they also have the ability to replicate themselves.

A cross-sectional view of the skin and an overview of growth factors are shown in the comparison chart. Please read the explanations with the images.

Cross-sectional view of skin
Overview of Growth Factor Action
Promotes cell proliferation and differentiation'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)Fat.'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)
Promotes collagen productionFat.'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)Fat.'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)
Accelerate wound healing'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)Fat.Fat.'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)
Promotion of angiogenesisweak'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)Fat.weak'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)
Promotes hair growthFat.weakweak'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)long vowel mark (usually only used in katakana)Fat.
muscle strengtheninglong vowel mark (usually only used in katakana)long vowel mark (usually only used in katakana)weak'good work' (equiv. of silver star awarded to children at school)long vowel mark (usually only used in katakana)weak
featureskin turn
Deep wrinkles and
For laugh lines
ECM Remodeling EffectsMuscle and bone
growth promotant
anti-inflammatory actionParticularly strong collagen production stimulating effect

Description of evaluation

  • ◎: very powerful effect.
  • Fat: Powerful effect.
  • △: Effective, but limited or not as potent as other growth factors
  • -: No effect or very localized

EGF (epidermal growth factor)

EGF acts throughout the epithelial layer and greatly improves the surface of the skin by promoting the growth, differentiation, and repair of cells in the epithelial layer.

Expected Effects
  • The metabolism of cells in the epithelial layer is activated,Turnover is encouraged.. Blemishes and dullness are improved, leaving a brighter, clearer, smoother texture.
  • It has an angiogenic effect and promotes wound healing, thereby reducing scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
  • Cell proliferation causes cells to become denser together, thus strengthening the skin's barrier function and its ability to prevent moisture evaporation. Dryness is reduced and moist skin is maintained.
  • The combination of increased skin thickness and moisturizing effect reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

FGF(fibroblast growth factor)

FGF acts primarily on fibroblasts and affects the entire dermal layer.

FGF stimulates the growth and differentiation of fibroblasts, which in turn produce new elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid.
It also restores skin elasticity and firmness by promoting the production and repair of already existing elastin and collagen, thereby improving wrinkles and sagging skin.

Expected Effects
  • Collagen and elastin production is stimulated, improving skin elasticity and firmness.
  • Skin becomes plumper and more elastic, and wrinkles and sagging skin become less noticeable.Deep wrinkles and lines in particular tend to improve.
  • Hyaluronic acid fills the intercellular spaces in the dermis layer, leading to hydrated, plump, smooth skin
  • When the dermis layer, the foundation of the skin, is filled with an adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen through angiogenesis, the entire skin is transformed into a healthy, youthful appearance!

PDGF (platelet-derived growth factor)

PDGF acts on a wide range of cells, including fibroblasts, smooth muscle cells, and macrophages, and supports comprehensive skin repair and regeneration. PDGF is particularly effective in wound healing (tissue repair and regeneration).

Expected Effects
  • In particular, fibroblast activation and collagen production are strongly promoted, which increases skin elasticity and reduces sagging and wrinkles.
  • Angiogenesis is stimulated, which leads to increased turnover and a brighter, smoother skin texture.
  • From the smoothening of the skin's surface and improvement of the skin's elasticity and firmness,An overall rejuvenating effect is brought about.

IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1)

IGF-1 is said to act on many cells, including muscle cells, bone cells, fibroblasts, and fat cells.

It also acts on cell proliferation and differentiation, collagen production, and wound healing, but compared to other growth factors, it has a particularly potent effect on muscle and bone cells.

Expected Effects
  • Improves thinning and hair loss and increases hair density and thickness by promoting hair growth.
  • It also affects the deep myofascial layer of the face and can be expected to lift the face.
  • Improvement of facial bone density and reduction of atrophy may be expected.

TGF-β (transforming growth factor-β)

TGF-β acts on a very diverse range of cells, but its effects on individual cells may not be as pronounced as those of other growth factors. It is best to think of it as a supporting role for other growth factors.

TGF-β has specific actions that differentiate it from other growth factors. It is an action involved in apoptosis (spontaneous cell death) and in the regulation of the immune response.
Apoptosis is the process by which aging cells or cells damaged by ultraviolet light are worked to be eliminated. This is because these cells may secrete inflammatory factors, which accelerate aging and inflammation of the surrounding tissues.

It also works to suppress inflammation in its immune response modulating action.

Expected Effects
  • Reduction of inflammation reduces redness and swelling and improves skin tone and texture.

PRP (platelet-rich plasma)

PRP is an acronym for "Platelet Rich Plasma," which translates directly to "platelet-rich plasma.
So, strictly speaking, PRP itself is not a growth factor, but rather a plasma containing many growth factors released from platelets.

Major growth factors contained in PRP: EGF, FGF, PDGF, TGF-β, IGF-1, VEGF

RecentlyPRP TherapyThe procedure, in which blood from the patient's own body is centrifuged and injected back into the body, is attracting attention from the point of view of regenerative medicine.

Also,PRP + FGFThe focus of attention has been on a treatment that combines
This combination of PRP + FGF is thought to improve skin firmness and elasticity with its particularly powerful collagen production-promoting effect, and can approach a wide variety of skin problems such as wrinkles, sagging, dull skin, scars, and pore improvement.

What are stem cells (stem cell culture medium)?

Stem cells are cells that have the ability to self-renew and differentiate into various cell types. Stem cell culture medium is a liquid that contains components secreted when stem cells are cultured, including growth factors, cytokines, exosomes, amino acids, and other non-stem cell substances.

Let me explain stem cells a little more clearly.

Our body begins as a single fertilized egg, which repeatedly divides into different tissues with different roles. When cells are divided into broad groups, such as blood and skin, stem cells are the parent cells of those groups.
For example, mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into skin, muscle, fat, and bone cells.
Then further differentiation proceeds from mesenchymal stem cells to fibroblasts to collagen, and so on.

Stem cells are often used in the aesthetic medicine field,

  • mesenchymal stem cell
  • amniotic stem cell
  • adipose stem cell
  • bone marrow stem cell
  • umbilical cord blood stem cell

and others.

Stem cells have different effects and characteristics depending on the site from which they are harvested.

However, stem cells are used primarily for skin rejuvenation, wound healing, tissue repair, and anti-inflammatory effects because of their common high regenerative, pluripotency, and high proliferative capacity.

What is an exosome?

Simply put, exosomes are cell-to-cell signals (information transmitters).
It has a small pouch-like structure and inside the pouch are growth factors, anti-inflammatory factors, RNA, proteins, and other components.

Exosomes themselves do not proliferate and differentiate into cells of any kind, but rather send signals (i.e., take up the components that the receiving cell has in its pouch) to affect the other cell.

Expected Benefits of Exosomes

Exosomes can also be classified into several types depending on the site (origin) from which they are harvested.

Depending on the stem cells from which they are derived, the appearance of the effect of the resulting exosomes is said to be unique.

  • Mesenchymal stem cell-derived: anti-inflammatory, skin rejuvenation, wound healing.
  • Derived from fat stem cells: Skin tightening, wrinkle improvement, and moisturizing effects.
  • Cord blood-derived: comprehensive rejuvenation, anti-inflammation, improvement of spots and dullness.
  • Neural stem cell derived: neuroprotection, stress care, general rejuvenation.
  • Dental pulp stem cell-derived: Skin turnover promotion and rejuvenation effect. 
  • Amniotic fluid stem cell-derived: high regenerative capacity, overall rejuvenation.

The fact that exosomes can act systemically through intravenous infusion is a feature not found in other formulations.

What are the benefits of combining with a dermapen?

Dermapen allows the active ingredients to be delivered to the layer where they act, so they can work on cells more efficiently.

There are a variety of approaches to cosmetic medical procedures, and the appropriate procedure is selected based on the patient's concerns.
The table below summarizes the characteristics of common procedures, including dermapen. Please refer to it if you have any questions about the treatment method.

dermapenVital Injectorby a physician
intravenous drip
working rangeepithelial layer
dermal layer
Upper subcutaneous tissue
epithelial layer
Central dermis layer
dermal layer
Central part of subcutaneous tissue
Whole (body)
Chemical uptakepassiveactiveactiveactive
OtherWith downtimeShort term.
With downtime
Requires practitioner proficiency.High cost
General Treatment Features

The number of * indicates relative superiority (more indicates better and less burdensome)

If you are not sure which formulation to choose

So far, we have given an overview of cell-derived components. Some of you may have found it difficult because of its specialized content.

"In the end, which formulation should I choose?" You may be asking yourself, "Which formulation should I choose in the end?

The conclusion is that you should be asked to prioritize your concerns and receive a formulation that contains ingredients that act on them, with the appropriate approach method of treatment.

The first example formulation contains the following ingredients

Beneb.Growth factors (EGF, FGF, etc.) ・Peptides ・Various vitamins ・Hyaluronic acid ・Mesenchymal stem cell-derived culture fluid
babieskinGrowth factors (IGF-1, IGF-2, IGFBP, MCP-1, IL-8, M-CSF, etc.) ・Hyaluronic acid
amnio genicsAmniotic membrane-derived components ・Growth factors (TGF-β, etc.) ・Cytokines ・Proteins ・Collagen
premium cellStem cell-derived ingredients ・Hyaluronic acid ・Growth factors (EGF, bFGF, TGF-β, etc.)
REJURANPolynucleotides derived from salmon DNA ・Growth factors (EGF, etc.) ・Hyaluronic acid
Main components of cell-derived products

*AmnioGenics treatment will prevent you from donating blood or organs.

Cell-derived preparations such as growth factors and stem cells regenerate and repair one's own cells and are very attractive ingredients in cosmetic medicine, but the way their effects appear and are felt varies from person to person.
So, after you have a full understanding of this point, please use the above information and knowledge to find the right formulation for you as you experiment with the formulations you are interested in.

If you are unable to make that decision on your own, please feel free to consult with us at Smart Skin Clinic. A specialist doctor can listen to your story and counsel you on formulations and procedures.

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