If someone told you that your own blood could heal and rejuvenate your aging skin, you might think it sounded like something out of X-Men. And while it may seem far-fetched that you have the ability to repair your own wrinkles, your body does often possess the power to fix itself – with a little encouragement from your plastic surgeon. Two revolutionary filler systems – Selphyl and Mycells – are making it fast and easy for your cells to work their magic.
What is Selphyl?
Selphyl is an FDA approved system for the simple and quick preparation of PRFM, or Platelet-rich Fibrin Matrix. PRFM is blood, purified to extract potentially inflammatory red and white cells.
Your skin care specialist or plastic surgeon would draw a few small vials of blood from you, process it using the Selphyl system to produce a pure, amber liquid, and then inject that liquid into the desired area. Ideally then, your skin would be stimulated to produce new cells and collagen, ‘healing’ itself, rejuvenating your appearance and increasing your skin’s volume.
What is Mycells?
MyCells is a similar system to Selphyl, and though it is also FDA approved for marketing, its results are less well-documented. Mycells, like Selphyl, uses a purification process that capitalizes on PLP, or platelet rich plasma, to accelerate and focus the body’s natural healing properties. With Mycells, the possibility of residual red or white cells existing in the injected area could cause an inflammatory response.
Dr. Anthony Sclafani, a New York facial plastic surgeon, argues against the notion that an inflammatory response speeds the production of collagen, because “collagen production is already promoted” by the PRFM injection. With MyCells, Dr. Sclafani suggests, “there will be debris, [red and white blood cells], that has to be degraded.”
While Dr. Sclafani regularly uses Selphyl, he warns that it is “dangerous to generalize” about similarities between Selphyl and MyCells, because “there is nothing really published on MyCells.”
However, both systems provide an autologous rejuvenation of the treated skin. And neither is a brand new technology – the concept of PRFM has been around for a while, originally developed to heal wounds more quickly. Dr. Sclafani points out that both MyCells and Selphyl are “trying to fool the body” into thinking that new collagen and cells need to be produced.
PRFM can be used to correct lines and wrinkles in your forehead, cheeks, nasolabial folds, smile lines, acne scars, marionette lines, and chin.
Dr. Sclafani suggests that there are other practical applications of PRFM as well. He uses the Selphyl system to reduce bruising after rhinoplasty. He also sprays PRFM on porous facial implants to encourage skin to grow into the implants, and mixes PRFM “with fat during fat transfers” to encourage vascular growth in the fat. Systems like MyCells and Selphyl really open doors to the possibilities of healing and anti-aging procedures. As Dr. Sclafani says, “There’s really no place you couldn’t use [PRFM].”
How do Selphyl and MyCells compare to synthetic fillers like Juvederm and Restylane?
There are several factors that separate autologous fillers like Selphyl and MyCells from synthetic fillers like Juvederm and Restylane, including cost, number of treatments, duration, immediacy, side effects, and appropriate demographic.
Dr. Sclafani compares the costs of Restylane and Selphyl over both the short and long term. He acknowledges that initially, the cost of Selphyl is higher. Compared to $650 for an injection of Restylane, a Selphyl treatment would cost about $2000. That’s a steep difference at first glance, but if a patient considers the cost of maintaining the results of a synthetic filler, Dr. Sclafani suggests that “over two years, [a patient will have spent more on Restylane] than Selphyl.”
Number of Treatments and Duration
While synthetic fillers are less expensive in the short term, the results produced by autologous fillers last long enough to more than make up for the difference.
MyCells and Selphyl require fewer treatments and last longer than synthetic fillers. Restylane can last up to 18 months with one to two repeated treatments. With Selphyl, the results can remain for longer than two years and look as good as when you were first injected. Dr. Sclafani cites “feedback from long term patients” of Selphyl who return after two to two and a half years and “nothing’s changed.” Their results look similar in year two as in week two.
Also, desired effects can potentially be achieved during a single PRFM treatment with over-correction, although a second treatment is sometimes needed to perfect the results.
Dr. Sclafani points out that Selphyl (or MyCells) may not be right for everyone. For a patient wanting immediate results, a filler like Juvederm may be preferable. Selphyl doesn’t manifest results until at least a week after treatment, and it won’t instantly vanish deep lines or folds on a very aged face.
Normal collagen production takes about 6-12 weeks for evident results, but with Selphyl, the rate is greatly accelerated. Dr. Sclafani’s says that in clinical studies, he was surprised to find that results plateau after only about two weeks. Selphyl, he claims, takes the “normal curve [of collagen production] and compresses it to one to two weeks.” So while results aren’t instant, they are speedy.
Side effects are minimal in Selphyl treatments, and non-existent if all goes well. With MyCells, there is an increased chance of inflammation which will subside after excess cells are processed.
With Juvederm and Restylane, or other synthetic fillers, there is a small chance of allergic reactions or granulomas due to the immune system’s rejection of the filler. These side effects vanish when your own tissue is used as the injectable.
Is Selphyl or MyCells right for me?
Dr. Sclafani suggests that autologous injectables are extending the market for corrective facial fillers. Selphyl, he says, is “ideal for somebody who doesn’t need a lot.” If a younger patient – someone in her 30’s, for instance – has a “little bit of folding, she wouldn’t want anything injectable in her face. Most [younger] patients would not want Restylane.” However, such patients may be much more comfortable with using their own cells to correct minor ageing flaws.
Patients over 65 may not want Selphyl or MyCells, as the severity of wrinkles or folds at that stage may not be sufficiently corrected by autologous fillers.
In clinical studies, Dr. Sclafani found that “a small percentage [of patients] just didn’t respond [to Selphyl].” According to him, about 10% of people he treated had little to no apparent change after receiving Selphyl injections. Of those patients, some responded more noticeably after a second treatment, and Dr. Sclafani says this is perhaps due to an insufficient volume of PRFM at the time of the first injection. But, among patients who saw no results, there’s no particular common factor. “It’s nothing I can put my finger on,” says Dr. Sclafani, “[the patient’s] blood, cells, tissue…don’t have enough oomph to respond.” This is a risk you have to be willing to take if you want to try Selphyl or MyCells.
Overall, Selphyl and MyCells are excellent developing solutions to your potential aging woes. The appeal of a painless, fast, and all-natural procedure to fix your wrinkle woes is wide and obvious, and Selphyl and MyCells will likely only grow in popularity.