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- Believe it or not, foreskins are being used in some parts of the world for cosmetic purposes.
- In fact, there are companies with patents for treatment solutions derived from foreskins.
Intercytex PLC, an England-based company, came up with Vavelta, a foreskin-derived skin treatment aimed at rejuvenating and smoothing skin withered by age or damaged by scarring from acne, burns and surgical incisions, according to Scientific American.
Vavelta, it is said, contains fibroblasts, cells that produce a skin-firming protein called collagen. The cells are isolated from the foreskins taken from baby boys, given several months to grow and multiply in the lab, and then packaged into treatment vials.
The vials, it was reported, cost as much as $1,000 (Sh100,000).
Vavelta is not for topical application, but rather used much in a similar way as Botox. However, ingenious entrepreneurs in the United States were able to come up with a cream, dubbed HydraFacial treatment, which costs around $150 (Sh15,000) and uses stem cells from an infant’s foreskin.
This may sound far-fetched, but not for media personality Oprah Winfrey, who received a lot of flak for endorsing a face cream going by the commercial name, SkinMedica, which is derived from human foreskin. The explanation given goes something like this: infants’ foreskins contains stem cells – which challenge a patient’s foreskin to divide faster – resulting in diminished wrinkles, acne and dark spots.
Kenyan maxillofacial cosmetic surgeon, Dr Mathew Akama notes that, “That science of applying stem cells (from foreskins) on the skin does not add up; I don’t understand it.”
HydraFacial is already in use in parts of the US. Vavelta however has not been approved by any country for use. Akama has the same opinion about other unconventional methods for skin rejuvenation, such as the use of blood-sucking leeches; vampire facials with blood from the placenta; bathing in milk; application of red ochre; or showering in cow’s urine (like some tribes from South Sudan).
“I would compare many of those methods to application of foundation. However, there is no scientific proof that they are cosmetically important. They are largely hearsay.”
Intercytex PLC explains that fibroblasts in foreskins make elastin, a protein that allows the skin to snap back to its original shape after being stretched. The cells also produce hyaluronic acid, a molecule that locks moisture in the skin, keeping it supple and plump.
Their explanation, Akama confirms, is scientific. However, the doctor maintains that the concept does not make a lot of sense.
“I know of Botox and dermal fillers. These have been scientifically proven,” he adds.