We headed to London to meet Italian doctor Rosa Santa Cruz, who moved to the British capital in 2013 and started working as a doctor there.
She was born in Cagliari, Sardinia, and after taking a first degree in Natural Sciences in Cagliari and a PhD in Medical Forensic Sciences at Università Cattolica in Rome, she also graduated in Medicine and specialized in General Surgery at the University of Cagliari and attended several specialization courses abroad, in Spain (University of Granada), in the US (Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA) and in London.
Her main professional interests include the study of new frontiers in medicine and surgery, as well as the application of novel non-surgical technologies for the treatment of non-malignant and aging-associated chronic conditions.
What is it like to work in regenerative medicine today?
Regenerative medicine is the latest frontier in contemporary medicine. Even though it is still in its infancy, it is expected to be the next revolution in the medical practice of the future.
The rationale behind regenerative medicine is to treat non-malignant chronic conditions by promoting endogenous self-regeneration and self-repairing pathways within the human body. These pathways can be activated by using non-invasive techniques such as low-intensity magnetic fields or minimally invasive methods involving localized injections or systemic infusions of hemoderivatives, stem cells and/or their derivatives. A simple blood or adipose tissue sample is taken from the patient, processed through different methods and then re-infused or re-injected in different parts of the body ̶ for example in the scalp to thicken the hair and combat hair loss in early alopecia, to renew or rejuvenate the skin in aesthetic medicine, to treat erectile dysfunctions in men and various orthopedic or systemic conditions, and to complement other conventional therapies for most of the chronic and degenerative diseases (such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and post-traumatic rehabilitation).
Besides its high therapeutic potential, one of the main benefits of regenerative medicine is that it is almost virtually free from major risks and side effects (generally mainly associated with the technique rather than the treatment itself).
Which role does regenerative medicine play in prevention?
Its role in prevention, as well as in the treatment of malignant tumors, is still to be defined, and many of the treatments currently available are still under investigation and being tested.
Aesthetic medicine: how do we value youth today?
Modern information has made the scientific progress and the available technologies increasingly accessible to the public, now growing more conscious and demanding. The average longevity has remarkably and progressively increased, but although people are aware of the negative effects of harmful habits ̶ smoking, lacking a balanced diet or misusing drugs ̶ these are still widespread in industrialized countries.
Which fields do you work in?
I work privately in the center of London, mostly in world renowned Harley Street, where my main clinic is located, but also in the Chelsea and Covent Garden boroughs. I have adopted regenerative medicine techniques to treat non-malignant chronic, acute and sub-acute conditions; I carry out scientific research and I practice advanced aesthetic medicine especially for face rejuvenation and skin conditions, alongside other groundbreaking techniques such as electrotherapy for treating hemorrhoids (currently the only non-surgical method available and an excellent alternative to surgery) and traditional aesthetic medicine techniques based on the advanced use of the botulin toxin to reduce face and neck wrinkles, to treat excessive axillary or plantar hyperhidrosis, bruxism and so on, or involving injectable solutions based on hyaluronic acid to sculpt and rejuvenate the face, neck, décollettage, hands and other body parts.
Why did you choose to leave Italy?
For many reasons, and it cost me huge sacrifices, but mainly to fulfil the need to attend different academic environments, to expand my knowledge and to explore new horizons and different cultures. Moreover, living in Sardinia also entails all the disadvantages associated with life on an relatively small island, so in time I outgrew it.
What does the future hold for the application of these new therapeutic techniques?
The next frontier in medicine is aiming at reducing the use of synthetic drugs and invasive surgical techniques in favour of organic and/or mini-invasive methods based on the natural defence and regenerative mechanisms of the human body. This will be associated with a quicker recovery, less risks and side effects compared to traditional medicine and surgery.
Your plans for the future?
I rarely make plans for the long run, but in the short and medium run, I would like to continue to develop an holistic approach to the treatment of chronic conditions and to spread the knowledge and application of regenerative and aesthetic medicine.