Over the last several years there has been a significant trending toward “stem cell” rich fat transfer procedures, one of the most popular being the stem cell face lift. It’s no surprise that stem cell cosmetic surgery procedures have become so popular when the newest cosmetic fads appear on half the covers on the magazine stand every month and Hollywood types, including Suzanne Somers, are allegedly tapping into the regenerative power of stem cells. But with all of the claims being made, the typical patient can’t help but stop and wonder “Is it cutting edge science or just more propaganda?”
We’ve mentioned before the inaccuracies and too-good-to-be-true messaging that is more frequently being utilized in promoting cosmetic surgery procedures and aesthetic services. There is an inherent conflict between technological “evangelists,” who often directly profit from the technology, and practitioners focused on scientific data and clinical studies to prove the validity of a given technology or treatment. This conflict is fairly rampant in aesthetic medicine, and perhaps all areas of medicine.
In the plastic surgery industry, the American Society of Plastic Surgery and The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons act somewhat as the “BS police” for the plastic surgery specialty. In May, the ASAPS and ASPS released a statement regarding Stem Cell Procedures after an over yearlong joint commission study that reviewed over 9000 clinical papers. There are two very important points from the statement that patients should be aware of:
- The marketing and promotion of stem cell procedures in aesthetic surgery is not adequately supported by clinical evidence at this time.
- Extreme caution should be exercised when a physician is promising results from any treatment that sound too good to be true.
What is a Stem Cell?
In essence, stem cells are cells in their basal form prior to being “programmed” to have a specific purpose. Stem cells are abundant in fat tissue making the fat transfer or fat grafting an optimal way of introducing these immature cells from one area of the body into another. While scientists have found ways to isolate stem cells in a laboratory setting, these methods are too precise and time consuming for practical use outside of laboratory testing. To date there is not a technique or device – whether it’s ultrasound, infrared, laser or mechanically assisted – that is approved by the FDA for effectively separating human fat cells from stem cells.
Whether it’s toted as a special “cutting edge machine” or “one-of-a-kind technology” that is supposed to optimally extract stem cells, growth factors or regenerative cells after a Liposuction procedure or traditional fat processing methods that have been used during Fat Grafting procedures since the 1980s, science has yet to prove that the results are any different. As such, Marketing a procedure as a “stem cell” specific and making unvalidated claims about the results of so called “stem cell” treatments using these isolating technologies is an ethical issue within the plastic surgery community.
While the potential for stem cell treatments for cosmetic purposes is intriguing and may one day be valid, it isn’t yet. Patients interested in rejuvenation treatments are better off pursuing proven cosmetic surgery procedures from a plastic surgeon who doesn’t push trendy lingo, but who will follow the ethics of a medical practitioner and put the science before a sale. To learn more about the benefits of proven cosmetic rejuvenation in Denver, Colorado, contact us to schedule a consultation.