After plastic surgery procedures, patients are generally ecstatic to finally get rid of the excess fat or skin through liposuction or a tummy tuck. But what happens to the extra skin and fat after the surgery? Although most individuals think this human material is just thrown away, the answer may be stranger than you initially thought.
The Fat Research
Fat, also known as andipose tissue, is more than just an unflattering material found in the body. Fat actually functions as an endocrine organ, which means it creates hormones to control your insulin levels, metabolism and the communication of cells. As recent as 2001, scientists have found that fat could be a factor in future medical revolutions. Some believe that fat can be turned into stem cells, find a cure to obesity, or be recycled for use in reconstructive surgeries, such as breast reconstruction.
The Skin Research
One primary example of cosmetic tissue recycling is found with a product called EpiSkin. EpiSkin is an artificial skin that is grown from real extracted skin, generally from breast reduction or tummy tuck. This artificial skin growth is possible with the start of keratinocytes being extracted from the top layer of harvested skin tissue. These keratinocytes are placed on a matrix of collagen, which promotes the skin to grow like real skin. With new animal testing laws, many companies have been using EpiSkin to test new topical products and treatments.
The Ethics of Reuse
Although it seems this “recycling” of extra skin and fat may seem beneficial to many companies, tissue is often used without consent of the patient. Additionally, tissue is collected and stored at extremely high rates. Though it may be a while before we see an answer from the U.S., the UK has responded to ethical sales of human tissues, based on the Human Tissues Act of 2004 that made the sale of organs illegal. However, the incentives for using unwanted tissue from plastic surgery will only increase as science and understanding of the human body evolves.