With advances in medical technology, health education and more active lifestyles, our average life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past several years. It’s probably safe to say that nobody wants to live a long time while looking and feeling
Research suggests little attention has been paid to the psychological effects of aging skin but, found that: “The awareness of one’s compromised appearance makes interpersonal relationships uncomfortable and promotes social withdrawal.”
Here’s another one: “While the landmarks of maturing into adulthood are a source of pride, signs of natural aging can be cause for shame or embarrassment. Some people try to fight off the appearance of aging with cosmetic surgery. Although many seniors report that their lives are more satisfying than ever, and their self-esteem is stronger than when they were young, they are still subject to cultural attitudes that make them feel invisible and devalued.” https://opentextbc.ca/introductiontosociology/chapter/chapter13-aging-and-the-elderly/
Pretty heavy stuff for a few lines and wrinkles. Who knew?? The conclusion that we come to is that we ARE interested in our appearance, especially as we age.
The downside is obvious. As we age, our skin becomes wrinkled, thin, damaged and discolored. We don’t like it but there you have it. We can address these aging issues with superficial methods such as skin care products, plastic surgery and laser treatments. These treatments and therapies work and are important to maintaining the appearance we want as we age.
But, “aging” is a cellular activity, and occurs at the cellular level.
The process of aging involves every cell; and, every organ undergoes a steady rate of deterioration. As we get older, cells of the body become progressively more damaged due to wear-and-tear and general exposure. Finally, those cells die. This process is called apoptosis and it’s a natural part of cell life. As these cells die, they are replaced by new cells. This cell replacement process is never fast enough to compensate completely for the cells that are dying off. This is when the signs of aging appear, and where stem cells come in.
What Exactly ARE Stem Cells?
Stem cells are “undifferentiated” cells in the body, meaning that these cells are the very basic cells that have not developed into a particular type of cell, like a skin cell, heart cell or muscle cell for example, and are what all the other cells in your body are derived from. Stem cells remain in the body throughout life and our bodies depend on them to keep us healthy and repair damage of all kinds, whether from injury or illness.
During early life and the growth process, stem cells have an exceptional potential to develop into different types of cells. For example, when you are young and skin your knee you heal quickly and usually with little scarring. This is because we have millions of stem cells circulating through our young bodies. Newborns have a stem cells for every 10,000 cells. As we age, these cells dwindle down to 1 to 2 stem cells per 100,000 cells. By the age of 65, only about 10% of the body’s stem cells are circulated through the blood.
Declining levels of stem cells affect how the body repairs itself. The older we get, the more our body’s defenses have to decide where it use it’s dwindling resources. This means that repairing the effects of aging to skin gradually takes a back seat to more pressing issues, leaving areas of unrepaired damage.
How Do Stem Cells Help?