One of the most promising new innovations in medicine is the application of stem cells to repair and regenerate the body. Stem cells have the potential to grow (differentiate) into specific cell types and influence the other cells around them. While stem cells may revolutionize both aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, there is little evidence at this time to recommend their use in clinical situations. Research studies are underway to determine in which situations stem cells may be useful to restore normal form, function and appearance and to improve healing.
Since stem cells are found in fat tissue, liposuction can be used to remove fat and stem cells together. The combination of cells can then be injected into areas of the body where fat and stem cells are needed. While this sounds good in theory, actual successful clinical examples of stem cells improving outcomes using this technique are rare.
Unfortunately, some doctors are promoting the use of stem cells to enhance plastic surgery procedures such as face lifts and breast augmentation. Despite the 2011 position statement on stem cell treatments by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, there are still those who promote stem cell use without educating patients about the lack of proof that stem cell treatments offer any benefit over regular treatments.
At this time, there is no evidence that “stem cell” face lifts offer any advantage compared to other standard treatments to improve facial aging. Most of the doctors promoting this treatment are not training in stem cell applications and many are not even plastic surgeons (or even surgeons). So until properly done studies show that stem cells can improve face lifts, or any other aesthetic procedure, consider such claims to be untested and without any value.
To learn more, read the New York Times article on Stem Cell Face Lifts.
- Source: New York Times, April 3rd, 2013
- Copyright: Karol A. Gutowski, M.D., Chicago, IL, 2013