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How Exosome Therapy Gave Me the Skin of My Younger Self



May 14, 2024

I never received compliments on my skin until beginning exosome therapy last fall. A few months prior, at the recommendation of Chioma Nnadi—former editor of and current head of editorial content at British Vogue—I took a consultation visit with practitioner Dr. Akis Ntonos, FNP, ND.

At the time, tackling hyperpigmentation was my main concern, so Ntonos emphasized that our course of action would include alleviating breakouts, balancing my skin's oil production, and reducing pore size. It all started with an in-office chemical peel, then a stem cell microneedling treatment. A few days after our first visit, he called to check in and ask a question: Would I like to participate in an exclusive skin study on skincare's next big ingredient, exosomes?

I didn't really know what exosomes were or how it could help me achieve my skin goals. I had so many questions. “Exosomes,” Ntonos tells me, “are small vehicles released by all cells, including stem cells. In simple terms, exosomes are messengers that carry essential information and factors from one cell to another.” By delivering these nanoparticles directly to the skin, one could receive better results. Per Ntonos, “exosomes are preferred over actual stem cell applications because they are less contentious as they do not involve whole cells, mitigating the concerns of potential rejection or other complications.”

Ntonos explains that exosomes are desirable in the aesthetic would because they enhance the skin's regenerative processes, which results in a more youthful appearance and better outcomes post-treatment. “This improves skin quality and appearance, making them ideal for anti-aging and skin rejuvenation treatments.” Wrinkles, skin laxity, uneven skin tone, and textural irregularities are all concerns exosomes target; “it may also help prevent scarring, improve the appearance of old scars, and potentially treat inflammatory skin conditions.” There are even ongoing studies that exosomes can improve hair restoration.

In 2020, Resiliélle discovered how to harvest many exosomes from a single umbilical cord per batch. Or Age Zero exosomes, as they call them, are derived from Wharton Jelly stem cells which are known for their therapeutic qualities; and, thus primed to achieve an improvement in skin texture, firmness, pore size, and radiance per Resiliélle CEO Erin Crowley. This innovation helps the ingredients be readily available for aesthetic treatments.

Generally, exosomes are delivered to the skin topically following a medical device treatment. In my case, we were using the SkinPen—an FDA-cleared microneedling tool (the same one I used previously for my stem cell service). Microneedling on its own is designed to stimulate skin's natural healing process, and following with exosomes allows the ingredient to penetrate deep into the dermis. So, in his Upper East Side clinic, Ntonos numbed my face and began taking several passes along my face and neck with the SkinPen; then, applying a clear, serum—the exosomes—to my face. It was as simple as that.

Like my previous microneedling session, my skin felt hot and red for the next hour, but the redness subsided by bedtime. I was impressed by how quickly my skin recovered this time; whereas I needed over 24 hours of downtime with my previous stem cell treatment. The following day, I was able to apply skincare products (hyaluronic acid, ceramide-rich face cream, and SPF), put on a hat (for good measure), and go forth. By day three, I felt comfortable wearing makeup again and being photographed. However, I was instructed to avoid exfoliants and retinol for the next week.

In my opinion, the real draw to exosome therapy was how immensely my skin improved in the weeks following. As I neared week two post-microneedling, I remember looking at my bare face in awe of how glowing it appeared. Luminosity was one thing, but I swear, it I looked poreless. I had never in my life seen my skin so smooth. It was like I had somehow achieved that glass-skin look everyone kept talking about. According to Dr. Lubna Khan-Salim, aesthetic surgeon and founder of Time To Bloom clinic, this is to be expected for anyone getting a similar treatment. “As these are regenerative treatments the cell signaling needs time to take effect, patients usually notice improvement to the appearance and texture of skin after about two weeks, but the full effect usually takes about six to eight weeks,” she says, adding that the results improve gradually in the months that follow. As part of Resiliélle's study, I completed two more exosome therapy treatments (each four weeks apart) and found this continual improvement to be true. The results of each treatment compounded on each other—leaving me with the baby smooth skin I never thought I could achieve. And in the five months since my last exosome therapy appointment, these results have been relatively easy to maintain. While I had previously relied on a cocktail of exfoliating and retexturing salves, I was able to stay grounded with a simplified skincare routine.

Though I like to joke that I now have the complexion of my 20-year-old self, Ntonos reminds me that natural aging will continue—meaning regular treatments are suggested to maintain or improve my results. Anyone looking to try exosome therapy themselves—accompanying microneedling like me, or with laser—can expect a price tag anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand dollars, dependent on factors such as provider, location, and extent of treatment. “It is essential to be discerning about the source of exosomes, their third-party testing, integrity (i.e., non-lyophilized), and to demand a Certificate of Conformance so as not to fall prey to unsuitable products,” he says.

One could also consider exosomes in skincare—a category that is rising in prominence, though Khan-Salim explains their results will not be as effective as in-clinic (when applied topically without a skin treatment, the exosomes only reach the top layer of skin).

“It’s important to say we are still in the early stages of fully understanding the full potential of exosomes and how they function, more robust studies and clinical data is needed but the data so far looks highly promising,” Khan-Salim tells me. Through exosomes, “we are now in the era of being able to truly treat aging. Imagine if you could program your skin to behave like its younger self.”

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