Foreskin for Clear Skin?

A new dermatological treatment pulls the cells from newborns' foreskins and injects them, Botox-style, into aging faces

All Together Now

"Jab it in, jab it in . . . "Vavelta

It sounds like just another uber-meltable cheese product, but Vavelta is actually miles away from anything you'd want to put in your mouth. It's a radical new treatment for facial pitting, scarring, and wrinkles made out of—what else?—newborns' foreskins. Foreskins have long been treasured by cosmetic dermatologists because they are rich in fibroblasts, tiny cells that play a crucial role in healing wounds and generating collagen and connective tissue. (One foreskin can be bioengineered into a piece of lab-grown skin the size of a football field.) The makers of Vavelta extract them by finely dicing the foreskins and treating them with enzymes. Then the fibroblasts are suspended in a proprietary cell storage medium and injected into "problem areas" with a fine gauge needle.

In preliminary studies, Vavelta has worked well at eliminating wrinkles and scars without any side effects other than mild redness and itching (and the weirdness of knowing that you've got a foreskin in your face). Whether it's a viable mainstream cosmetic treatment remains to be seen. For one thing, a vial of the stuff costs around $1500. There are also ethical issues to consider, especially if the folks behind Vavelta start paying parents for their sons' severed sheaths. Foreskins discarded after hospital circumcisions are already used to make skin grafts for leg ulcers and burns—but does blending them into an epithelial milkshake and injecting them into aging faces like so much Botox cross some kind of line?