May 31st, 2013 Miguel A. Delgado Jr, MD
San Francisco, California-If you Google “stem cell facelift”, you will see an abundance of advertising for this catchphrase which is considered to be a pure marketing gimmick that is not medicine. The “stem cell facelift” is actually a misnomer; it is a nonsurgical procedure involving fat injections to plump up the face, not a surgical procedure like a conventional facelift that requires cutting, lifting and sewing.
Most physicians who advertise are taking advantage of the latest marketing ploy, by using fat which already contains stem cells for their “stem cell facelift procedure”. There are a few doctors who are adding stem cells to the fat claiming the “enriched fat” is what gives superior results. It is not proven that fat grafting with added stem cells gets any better results than fat grafting without the added stem cells, and fat injections or fat grafting, is a well-established procedure that has been around for two decades and is an excellent procedure for facial volume replacement.
A recent abstract published in The Aesthetic Journal states that; “Despite encouraging data suggesting that adult stem cells hold promise for future applications, the data from clinical evidence available today do not substantiate the marketing and promotional claims being made to patients. To claim that the “stem cell facelift” is a complete facial rejuvenation procedure surgery is unethical.”
Stem cell technology for aesthetic purposes is exciting and perhaps very promising. However, the jury is still out, scientific evidence does not support the safety and efficacy at this time. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) request their Board Certified Plastic Surgeon members only use this procedure in clinical studies under institutional review board approval and report their findings.
There will always be practitioners that are quick to take advantage of new trendy procedures, see the blog on the “Vampire Facelift” dated June 22, 2012. Do your homework, and “let the buyer beware!”