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October 30, 2010

The Newest Untested Fad: Stem-Cell Facelifts

When I first started to see advertisements for "stem cell" facelifts, I thought, "Am I missing out on a powerful new technology?  By not offering this therapy, am I not offering the latest and greatest to my patients?"

With a little research, I have unequivocally concluded, NO and NO!

Stem-cell facelifts are more about marketing and less about science.  The actual procedure is nothing revolutionary.  It involves facial injections of stem cell-enriched fat grafts, which is hardly any different from regular fat grafting--which, for the past decade, plastic surgeons have used to re-volumize the face, especially around the mouth and at the cheeks.

The addition of the stem cells has no proven efficacy and may even be dangerous.  While stem cell techonology has incredible potential, nobody in 2010 really knows how stem cells work or whether they will work consistently.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has advised patients considering facial rejuvenation to avoid stem-cell facelifts, as well as other “fad procedures” that lack clinical evidence demonstrating their effectiveness.  The U.S. FDA has not approved stem-cell-enriched fat grafting for any purpose.

While I hope that stem cells will improve medical care and aesthetics, as of today, it's more science fiction than science fact.

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