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How effective are stem cell face-lifts?

Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
It turns out that when fat stem cells are injected into wrinkled skin along with a common tissue filler called hyaluronic acid, wrinkles immediately look better and in a few weeks, the skin starts making more collagen. And that's a good thing, because it is the collagen that thins as we get older, contributing to wrinkling.

So, it's a good thing to inject fat into faces, right? Hold on a minute…there's the little fact that when hyaluronic acid without stem cells is injected into the skin, the same thing happens -- wrinkles go away and the skin pumps out more collagen. And, in fact, this was acknowledged in the very paper that showed that the stem cell/hyaluronic acid mixture helps wrinkles. By the way, did I mention that this research was performed in wrinkled mice, not humans?

So, what's the bottom line? Well, the words "stem cells" seem to sell plastic surgery like the word "sex" sells magazines. Fat grafting with stem cells probably isn't any different from fat grafting without stem cells -- and that's been done for 2 decades. And no one has showed that adding stem cells to hyaluronic acid filler keeps wrinkles away longer than hyaluronic acid alone. And no one has shown that a stem cell facelift is any better than traditional fat grafting or facelifting. But one thing is for sure about those stem cell facelifts -- they cost more than the older techniques. Ten years from now, I might be performing stem cell facelifts. But I'd like to wait until science has proven their worth. And you should, too.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.