Seattle Plastic Surgeon discusses the promotion of stem cell face lifts by ethically challenged physicians.
Recently I have had several inquiries about “stem cell face lifts” and whether or not I perform them. There must be someone out there promoting this as the latest and greatest fountain of youth. That someone is probably deceptively promoting him or herself as a plastic surgeon with a magic wand.
A little background on stem cells: These are little baby cells that can differentiate into almost any adult tissue. Research on stem cells is one of the hottest areas of biology and with good reason. Figuring out how to turn on the right genes in a population of stem cells could lead to tissue and organ engineering and amazing advances in the treatment of human disease and injury.
Adult fat tissue has a lot of stem cells. Cool, huh? Who would have thought that Mother Nature would pack away these tiny powerhouses of potential in our blubber? Stem cells can be isolated from fat tissue in the laboratory using very sophisticated equipment . This equipment is not something available to physicians working in a clinical setting. Stem cells are not being isolated from fat and injected into human faces.
So what’s the deal? Fat transfer for facial rejuvenation has been around for 20 + years and is becoming more and more popular as we understand the aging process better and also get better with the very fussy techniques required for successful fat transfer. I’ve been doing fat transfer for facial rejuvenation for 15 years. Fat transfer does something that is very obvious: it plumps up a deflated face and makes it more youthful appearing. It also does something else that has been observed by those of us who do fat transfer: it improves the quality of the overlying skin. And this qualitative improvement is likely the effect of stem cells that come along for the ride with the fat. So the “stem cell face lift” practitioners are doing fat transfer but are promoting it as something new and unique. It’s a little like calling a jelly donut a new type of fruit serving.
Check out this article in the New York Times.
Thanks for reading and if you find a jelly donut that really is a fruit serving, please let me know. Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder