Stem Cells in Cosmetic Surgery: Doctors Urge Research Before MarketingPosted on October 11, 2010 | by Boston Plastic Surgery
Last month, the Los Angeles Times published an article about “stem cell facelifts,” procedures that reportedly lack clinical evidence supporting recent claims made about their success.
The stem cell facelift basically involves facial injections of stem cell-enriched fat, according to the article.
Since then, major plastic surgery societies, bloggers and doctors on realself.com took notice and echoed the same skeptical question: Exactly how do stem cells improve the results of a facelift?
“Stem cells have incredible potential. But nobody knows exactly what they do. So they’re marketed to do everything,” said plastic surgeon Dr. Michael McGuire to the Times.
Both the Aesthetic Society and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons praised the article and advised any patients considering facial rejuvenation to avoid stem cell facelifts as well as other “fad procedures” that lack clinical evidence demonstrating their effectiveness.
There are several additional reasons to avoid the stem cell facelift marketing pitch. First, fat injections (facial fat grafting) can achieve a good cosmetic outcome without the use (or cost) of stem cells. Second, the long-term results of stem cell procedures are not known. Last but not least, as a biologic product, stem cell enriched fat may require FDA approval, which it does not currently have.
Some incredible developments may be on the horizon for stem cells in cosmetic medicine, but according to industry experts, we have not yet reached that point.