Exosomes Are Dermatologists New Favorite Anti-Aging Treatment—Here’s Why

All your beauty questions—answered. Our resident dermatologist, Dr. Geddes Bruce breaks down the biggest topics in beauty, from hair loss to Botox and everything in between. Send us a DM @camillestyles with your own burning q’s and we may address it in a future column. 

Remember the vampire facial? It went viral because of its main ingredient: your blood. Basically, it’s a microneedling facial with added platelet-rich plasma (PRP), using the cells in your blood to speed up your skin’s healing process. But there are less dramatic ways to elevate your skin treatments—while still using your skin’s own healing powers to your advantage.

In fact, many skin-favorite products and treatments are so effective for that reason exactly, by harnessing the natural elements in your skin. Think: adding collagen to your routine (whether topically or through supplements) to help boost your natural collagen. Or how ceramides help repair your skin barrier because they’re part of what your skin microbiome is made of. And now, beauty’s buzziest facial sprays use hypochlorous acid, which is produced by your white blood cells, for targeted wound healing. And if you’re looking for the latest way to give your skin a boost, look no further. Exosomes are the latest and greatest in skin repair. Let’s explore.

Featured image above: from our interview with Sanetra Longno by Michelle Nash

Everything You Need to Know About Exosomes

My facialist has started offering exosomes as an addition to treatments. I’ve been seeing people talk about this on social media, but how do I know if using exosomes is right for me? Should I look for them in topical products or treatments? Possibly both?

Exosomes are popping up on product labels and in the treatment room. But what exactly are they? And how can they affect your skin? To get to the bottom of this new beauty buzzword, I invited Dr. Geddes-Bruce to share her insights. “Exosomes are one of the ways stem cells communicate, so it’s akin to taking pure vitamin C rather than eating an entire orange to get some,” she explained.

“Exosomes have the potential to address several skin issues like calming redness, evening skin tone, correcting brown spots, softening fine lines and wrinkles, and promoting hair growth and wound healing.”

With their potential to stimulate overall improvements in your skin by boosting its healing process, it’s no wonder exosomes are everywhere. But don’t rush into anything without asking a derm. Especially when it comes to in-office treatments, which are promising but still being studied to prove their efficacy, Dr. Geddes says.

Ahead, Dr. Geddes takes us through the ins and outs of exosomes. Prepare to discover the best, derm-approved ways to use them—and what to look out for.

Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce

Dr. Geddes is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Westlake Dermatology, specializing in the practice of both cosmetic and medical dermatology. She views cosmetic dermatology as synergistic to a happy, healthy lifestyle and regularly counsels her patients in a balanced, natural approach to both cosmetic and medical dermatology. 

Woman applying makeup in mirror.

What are exosomes?

Think of exosomes as little bundles of information that signal the cells in your body to perform certain functions. While we traditionally think of them as coming from stem cells, exosomes are produced by all types of cells and promote different functions. For example, when you have an injury, your platelets rush to the area that needs help and send signals via exosomes to start repairing the damage.

What are exosomes used for in skincare?

Exosomes have been used and are being studied for use in topical skincare products to promote regeneration and repair. To do so, the exosomes have to be:

  • safely derived (if coming from human tissue or verified blood bank sources)
  • stable enough to survive in a bottle on your bathroom counter
  • actually effective in their claims, without the potential to do any harm
Woman applying skincream.

Are exosomes FDA-approved?

Our FDA does an incredibly thorough job of regulating drugs and any claim of a product to treat disease falls under the purview of the FDA. There are currently no FDA-approved exosome products and any practice offering injectable exosomes to treat conditions with claims of improving disease should be approached with extreme caution.

It’s the Wild West out there with unregulated claims and cowboy practitioners, so always inquire about safety, efficacy, and tread with caution into this new field of regenerative medicine. Let the studies prove safety and efficacy before jumping on this bandwagon, despite the potential exciting effects. There is a particular brand of topical exosomes that I feel confident recommending to my patients called ( plated ).

Who can benefit from exosomes?

Anyone who sees the effects of aging or skin damage from pollution, sun damage, or generally not taking good care of yourself can likely see benefits from topical exosomes. 

Woman applying makeup in mirror.

How long do exosomes take to work on the skin?

Most topical skin products start working immediately, but it takes time to visualize the transformation. I would recommend giving a six-week trial for all of your skincare products, including topical exosomes, as long as they aren’t irritating your skin. 

Are there disadvantages of exosomes?

Exosomes are a novel product and therefore can be quite expensive. Before investing in this type of skincare, make sure to look for products with high-quality published data and rigorous safety standards. Make sure you understand that these products have the potential to influence the way cells work, and therefore their cell source is an important consideration in their safety. On the flip side, you also want to make sure you are using a product that is shelf-stable at room temperature so that you get what you paid for. 

Dermatologists Recommend This New Skin Tightening Treatment—Here’s What You Need to Know

All your beauty questions—answered. Our resident dermatologist, Dr. Geddes Bruce breaks down the biggest topics in beauty, from hair loss to Botox and everything in between. Send us a DM @camillestyles with your own burning q’s and we may address it in a future column. 

Here’s a scary statistic: our skin stops producing collagen at 25. Meanwhile, your elastin—one of the other key proteins in your skin responsible for its tightness and ability to bounce back—gets weaker and weaker until it degrades at age 74. All of this to say: gravity is the great equalizer. And while more and more of us are trying to cultivate a healthy relationship with aging, celebrating our laugh lines and all that, products and treatments can still help us feel our best. Ultherapy is a buzzy treatment that promises visibly lifted, tightened skin without surgery or downtime. But is it too good to be true? I tapped Dr. Geddes Bruce to find out.

Featured image from our interview with Janessa Leoné by Teal Thomsen.

Everything You Need to Know About Ultherapy

I’ve been looking into non-surgical treatments to address loose skin but I don’t know where to start. There seem to be a lot of treatments making claims but I’m not sure what, or whom, to trust. I have heard some buzz around Ultherapy but how do I know if it’s for me? And is it something that derms recommend?

As we lose collagen and our elastin gets weaker, it’s common to have concerns like fine lines and loose skin. Skin tightening is a common goal for many women, even if it’s proactive and preventative. To speak on this buzzy new treatment, we’ve invited Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD to share her insights.

In our second installment of our newest series, Ask a Derm, Dr. Geddes-Bruce is addressing your questions about Ultherapy to help you decide if it’s the right treatment for you.

Image by Teal Thomsen

How Ultherapy Works

Ultherapy is an FDA-cleared skin tightening treatment that increases collagen and elastic fibers. It’s most commonly used to lift the brows and tighten the jawline and neck region. It can also address wrinkles on the décolletage region, the mouth, and even the knees. It is an in-office, non-invasive treatment with no downtime.

Similar to how we use ultrasound to check on a baby’s development during pregnancy, Ultherapy uses ultrasound to visualize the different parts of the skin and deeper tissues. It can then target the specific tissue layer to heat up and contract. The selective injury stimulates new collagen and elastic fibers and leads to tighter skin with visible lifting and wrinkle improvement.

What are the benefits of Ultherapy?

More collagen and more elastin! These are the fibers that keep your skin looking smooth, feeling tight, and bouncing back after movement. They decrease with time and exposure to ultraviolet light, pollution, and stress, not to mention the general effects of gravity. We do what we can to maximize their production and longevity with healthy diets, rest, photoprotection, and good skin care—as well as dermatologic procedures like Ultherapy.

Image by Belathée Photography

Who is Ultherapy for?

Ultherapy is best for healthy individuals who want natural-appearing lifting and wrinkle smoothing. It’s also for those who want to invest in skin maintenance and avoid later going under the knife. Individuals with severe loose skin may be disappointed. It doesn’t provide results like a surgical facelift. Instead, think subtle but meaningful results.

What should you know before you go?

You’ll have a topical numbing cream applied to the treatment areas for about an hour before. We also offer our patients a dilute form of laughing gas to take the edge off of any discomfort. The length of Ultherapy depends on how many areas you are treating and can range from 15 minutes to an hour and a half. When you leave, the treated areas will look slightly pink and swollen, and by that evening you look back to normal.

Are there any risks?

I can’t stress enough how important it is that the person performing your treatment is qualified—both for your results and your safety. There are risks to every treatment and those risks go up if the person performing your treatment isn’t highly skilled or experienced. With Ultherapy in particular, it is crucial to know facial anatomy and how to read ultrasound to make sure the energy is delivered where we want it to go and avoided in areas we don’t.

Are there any similar treatments to consider instead?

There are other non-invasive tissue tightening treatments on the market, although none I would argue with the long-standing track record, clinical data, and publications on effectiveness. Ultherapy has been around for well over a decade and still wins NewBeauty awards! But, as always, I’d encourage readers to go for a consultation with a board-certified dermatologist (one with expertise in cosmetics) to see what treatment is best for them and their needs.