About a month ago, the LA Times published an article about so-called “stem cell facelifts” and the lack of scientific evidence supporting the claims of their success. According to the article, the procedure involves injections of stem cell-enriched fat into specific areas of your face.
Since then, the plastic surgery societies, bloggers and doctors on realself.com took notice of the story and echoed the same skeptical question: 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 went on record to advise patients considering facial rejuvenation to avoid stem cell facelifts as well as other “fad procedures” that lack clinical evidence demonstrating their effectiveness.
Aside from the lack of scientific evidence, there are 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.
There may be some incredible developments on the horizon for stem cells in cosmetic medicine, but according to industry experts, we have not yet reached that point.