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Skin Replacement Procedures: Is Bioprinting the Wave of the Future?

By Mark Febus, 9:00 am on March 23, 2016

Scientists are currently developing a technology that could revolutionize skin replacement procedures. Bioprinting may allow doctors to make large sections of skin in a fraction of the time it takes to grow traditional skin grafts and perhaps apply these directly to a patient. This is a serious advancement in skin replacement technology that could significantly impact the way Dayton live-in caregivers and medical professionals treat serious injuries to the skin.

What is Bioprinting?

Bioprinting is similar to regular three-dimensional printing, only instead of synthetic polymers, they use skin cells. These skin cells are harvested from a patient in the hospital, and those cells are then mixed with collagen to form an “ink” for the printer. The printer uses extremely accurate laser technology to place drops of cells in a specific 3D pattern depending on the size of skin piece needed. Since the cells are alive, they interact with each other and grow into a normal-looking graft of skin. 

Use in Skin Replacement Procedures

Bioprinting may be the wave of the future for skin replacement procedures. Patients currently receive a skin graft where skin from a healthy part of the body is placed in the area that needs new skin where it can continue to grow. Bioprinting would eliminate the waiting time and allow doctors to essentially construct a new piece of skin. It is also especially helpful for burn victims who may not have enough healthy skin on their body to harvest. 

Scientists at Wake Forest University are already studying the applications of this technology for soldiers who have been severely burned in combat. Many of them have burns that cover their entire body, which makes skin grafting difficult. Using bioprinting technology may enable doctors to print skin directly onto a burn site, which can then grow and cover the wound faster than a traditional graft.

Implications for Seniors

Seniors often counter many skin conditions related to aging. Traditional skin grafting procedures may be difficult since aging skin loses its ability to grow quickly and the procedure can require a long and difficult recovery process. That said, bioprinting could solve a myriad of problems for seniors who require skin replacement.

Bioprinting is an amazing new breakthrough in the field of skin replacement. It has applications across the spectrum, and it could be especially pertinent for seniors who have age-related skin problems. Until more research is done on this revolutionary technique, seniors have other resources at their disposal for skin health and maintenance. Home Care Assistance of Dayton provides comprehensive live-in and hourly assistance that promotes senior health and wellness. Our highly trained caregivers offer assistance with everything from personal care to nutrition and exercise to encourage senior longevity. Learn more by calling 937-353-7997 and speaking with an experienced Care Manager today.

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