Aesthetics 101 (Part 2): Human Physiology, Pathology, Biochemistry, Microbiology & Pathology: Basic Science for Aesthetics

This is part 2 of our Aesthetics 101 series.

aesthetic medicine course

Human Physiology for Aesthetics

Why do we need to know human physiology?

"Physiology' is the study of the 'functions' of the human body. For easier comprehension, the body is usually categorized using the 'systems' approach again (as in part 1 of our aesthetics 101 series):

  1. Integumentary System (The integumentary system includes hair, scales, feathers, hooves, and nails.)
  2. cardiovascular system
  3. gastrointestinal system
  4. nervous system
  5. respiratory system
  6. endocrine system
  7. urino-genital system
  8. musculo-skeletal system
  9. hematological system

You have an overview of what the 'skin' is in part 1, now you will need to know the functions (why, when and how) of the skin.
Why is it important?
You need to know what is normal before you know what is abnormal. What is the normal PH of the skin? Why are there pigments in the skin and what are their functions? What is the sebaceous gland and it's function? 
Physiology is also an important basic subject for pharmacology. An in-depth understanding of how the body functions is necessary to develop a drug that will act at the particular organ and subsequently will influence the function of the human body.
Stem Cells
The are many phoney “oral stem cells” which aren’t really stem cells at all and are sold (usually by MLMers) with amazing claims but devoid of any clinical data to back them up, typical of other health supplement scams. You’ll have the usual testimonials of people who “feel better”, “look younger” etc. Unfortunately these subjective improvements are likely a placebo effect or delusions.

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If you understand Physiology 101, stem cells like any meat (muscular cells) that you eat; will get digested (broken down into smaller elements) in your digestive system and be absorbed as amino acids and lipids. Therefore, there are no special benefits to eating stem cells besides from nutritional aspects gained from eating any animal cells or eating a piece of meat. In order to get to the target sites, stem cells will need to be injected or infused (intravenously etc.) in order to bypass the 
digestive system.
These days, nearly everyone has heard of collagen and its importance for skin health, but what you may not be aware of is that you may have been lied to about collagen and collagen supplements.
There has been much misinformation spread about collagen supplements and their benefits, but today we’ll help you learn how to tell the difference between the many truths and falsehoods that abound regarding collagen supplements.
Does collagen supplements really work? And can you really look younger with collagen peptides? Do you need collagen like vitamin D, calcium or is this just pure marketing?
Many doctors don’t believe ingesting collagen is effective because they claim that the collagen molecule is too large for the body to absorb, and thus no different from eating a piece of meat.
Some doctors believe the only way to replenish your skin collagen is by injecting collagen or hyaluronic acid, or retina A to peel off top layer of your skin to stimulate collagen production.
Can collagen be absorbed orally?
They’re right and wrong.
The doctors are right that collagen is a major building block of our body and the most abundant protein. In its native state, the collagen molecule is too large to be absorbed effectively by the intestine. In fact, collagen is often referred to as a “super molecule” because it is so large, with a molecular weight of 300,000 Daltons.
Yet they are also wrong because only most recently (about 15 years ago), the Japanese had invented and patented the technology known as hydrolysis that can break down collagen super size molecule into tiny small collagen (avg about 3000-5000) known as hydrolyzed collagen or most commonly collagen peptides. 
For a more comprehensive review on Human Physiology, feel free to check out human physiology from Wikipedia.

Human Pathology for Aesthetics
What does it mean?

Pathology is the study and analysis of 'diseases'. In layman's terms, these are ailments or health problems. Medically, disease refers to the alteration of 'structure' (anatomy) or/and function (physiology) of the human body. Now you understand why you need to understand anatomy and physiology. It is like a combination of changes in the human body caused by specific factors. This could simply mean an abnormal change e.g. growth or an abnormal function e.g. high blood pressure. The correlation of these is considered pathological and pathology is the study of these changes.
There's more to pathology than this. Check out the following!
  • Histo-pathology refers to changes seen under the microscope.
  • Cytology refers to the study of individual cells in order to determine the abnormality.
A disease is not just any disease. Look around you, read the papers. You may observe that there can be so many causes that bring about a certain condition or ailment:
  • Physical Trauma e.g.: motor vehicle accidents, radiation.
  • Chemical agents e.g.: poisons, toxic chemicals.
  • Microbial agents (so tiny you can't see them) eg: pathogenic bacteria, virus and fungus.
  • Nutritional deficiency e.g.: lack of vitamins.
  • Deprivation of oxygen e.g.: arterial obstruction leading to stroke or heart attack.
Abnormal reactions of the body due to unknown or undetected causes:
  • Leading to abnormal inflammation e.g.: eczema, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, SLE etc.
  • Leading to abnormal growth e.g.: cancer.
  • Genetic error: e.g. Down's syndrome.
Too much to swallow? The above are just categories to make you understand the complexity of diseases and how the mind set of the healthcare professionals in making a diagnosis of your problem, if you are sick.
Why is the study of pathology important?
Knowledge of pathology can help doctors to accurately diagnose various problems and determine the best possible solutions for the particular problem. Usually, a pathologist will provide the doctor the most possible or exact cause of a medical condition. For example, a GP may not know whether a mole is cancerous or not. He/She would need to take a sample and sent it the pathologist for further examination.
So what exactly does a pathologist do? A pathologist is a medical specialist that you don't normally meet as they normally work behind the scene.
The pathologist is also the specialist who will decide whether a particular skin lesion or a lump is cancerous or not. The surgeon will take out the lump and send to the pathologist for histo-pathological examination. The pathologist will then prepare a report for the surgeon after inspecting the sample.
A forensic pathologist is a pathologist specializing in medico-legal investigations, conducting various scientific tests on objects or substances left at the scene of the crime. He or she must have a sound knowledge in pathology in order to help the police force to confirm the circumstances surrounding the cases.

Human Biochemistry for Aesthetics
Human biochemistry is the study of chemistry in the living human body.
Molecular biology refers to the study of molecular structures particularly the correlation of genes and the functional characteristics these produce.

Why is it important to know biochemistry?

Chemical changes within the body can be normal or abnormal. However, there may be certain abnormalities requiring urgent attention and treatment. This could be an instance of high plasma potassium (hyper-kalaemia) level.

Monitoring biochemical changes is also one of the main reasons why a doctor would need to test your blood, especially when you are admitted to a hospital. Though the taking of blood may involve slight needle-prick pain, but it can do you a world of good and help the doctor in understanding your condition, faster and better. 

The other area of importance in understanding human biochemistry is in drug treatment and drug research. Many discoveries have been made studying the natural bio-chemicals that exist within the body. Some drugs are based on molecular modifications of natural bio-chemicals. Further, new chemical entities or new molecules with potential benefits, when found, will be further tested and developed to determine the therapeutic effects. 

The practical importance of understanding biochemistry is so that you will better understand the mechanism of action of a particular product such as Botox and also the workings of slimming and weight loss products prescribed by doctors.

Proteins are very large molecules – made from monomers called amino acidsIngested proteins are usually broken up into single amino acids or dipeptides in the small intestine, and then absorbed. They can then be joined to make new proteins. If you understand this, you will understand why most oral stem cells and collagen supplements are not effective.

Human Microbiology for Aesthetics
Microbiology refers to the study of organisms that are too tiny to be seen by the naked eye. Medical microbiology thus refers to the study of these organisms in relation to humans. Perhaps those who do not have science background may find it difficult to appreciate this concept.

Once upon a time, before the microscope was invented, mankind was not able to see or to understand the existence of these organisms. With the invention of the microscope, the eye was able to sight the innumerable microorganisms and thus man was able to study them.

A microbiologist (a graduate with a degree in microbiology) is one who specializes in microbiological science. A medical doctor usually consults the microbiologist in making treatment-related decisions when there is a suspected infection.
Therefore, a clinical microbiologist has two roles:
  1. Identify the microorganism responsible for the patient's infection.
  2. Recommend the appropriate anti-microbial agents to alleviate the infection.

Why is it important?

Infection is a common disease due to the invasion by microorganisms. In order to treat infections effectively, the knowledge of medical microbiology is important.

Do you know the difference between a bacteria and a virus? Both are very small but the virus is even smaller. You can see a bacteria with a microscope but you may need a electron-microscope (expensive equipment) to see a virus.

Antibiotics are meant to kill bacteria and not virus. So, if you happen to have a mild cold without fever or sore-throat; the cause is normally due to some virus. So, will taking antibiotics help? Of course not. We need antibiotics to kill bacteria and we need anti-viral to kill virus. Point taken?

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Human Pharmacology for Aesthetics
Pharmacology is a science subject that deals with the origin, nature, chemistry, uses, and effects of drugs and medication. 
However, in order to understand pharmacology better, it would be useful to know the basics of biochemistry and physiology. Pharmacology is a broad topic covering all areas including 'what the body does to every drug' and 'what every drug does to the body'. 

Stop! Did you digest that, or were you pondering what that is all about! Well, let's take you further… 

Why is it important to learn about pharmacology? 

Drugs are powerful tools for all medical doctors. Without drugs, you will probably be screaming even during a minor surgery, what more if it is a major one! Imagine, if there is a world without drugs, you'd probably be listening to a wailing world! 

Knowing 'what drug to use', 'when to use' and 'how much to use' is naturally very important to a medical doctor. 

The reputation of 'drugs' has been tainted due to the abuse of drugs. In order to disassociate from that reputation, the word 'medicine' is sometimes used instead. Many at times, victims of drug abuse are ignorant of what they are taking.

Drug addicts tend to begin with a single dose and derive pleasure from that. Not knowing the side effects and mid to long term effects of the drug, the poor souls inadvertently continue to use it and eventually the usage becomes excessive and out of control.

In time, they get addicted to the drug; not knowing that it has what they called a 'withdrawal effect'. That means when you have started taking the drug and you stop taking it, you will feel restless and your whole body will be painful.

On the other hand, you need not be worried about the drugs given to you by your doctor (provided he/she is a qualified one, of course!). Nevertheless, in case you desire to, you can always query your doctor on what type of drugs that are prescribed to you. Not all drugs have withdrawal effects.

There are probably thousands of drugs that are available today. New ones are coming out every now and then. It is impossible to remember each one of them. It is also impossible for the doctors to remember every drug that exist in this world. To make it easier to remember or to keep a record of these drugs, we tend to categorize these drugs. Say, whether they fall under the category of antibiotics or painkillers for example. Then under each category, there are similarities and dissimilarities between each drug. Your doctor will prescribe the ones that are most suitable for you and naturally, the ones that he is most confident with. 

Due to the genetic differences that exist within each of us, some drugs may work on you but may not work on others. Some drugs may benefit you but may cause harm to another e.g. allergic reaction. 

Usually before prescribing any form of medication, a doctor, if he is unfamiliar with your medical history, will query you for any history of allergies etc. Do let him know beforehand, because it can affect the type of drugs that are prescribed to you! 

Therefore, precision and individualization are very much required in order to ensure that the right drugs or perhaps I should say 'medicine', is given to the right person, at the right time, at the right dose and at the right place. 



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