Do stem cell facelifts work?
“Stem cell facelift” is just a fancy name for fat grafting. Since fat from our body does contain stem cells, a fat transfer to the face for a facelift or other facial cosmetic surgery can technically be said to include stem cells. However, suggesting that these so-called adult stem cells are the reason that a fat transfers work is a huge leap.
Marketing Based on a Grain of Truth
It is said that most good lies are based on a grain of truth. After all, mingling fact with fabrication is an effective, if not questionable, method of convincing an audience. If part of something is true then how is a non-specialist to discern where the truth ends and the exaggerations begin?
Here is what’s true: The “stem cell facelift” being marketed today is the same process that goes by the medically accepted names of fat grafting, fat injections, and fat transfers. This is a process in which fat is harvested from another area of the body such as the thighs or tummy, often improving that area’s shape, and then grafted into a deficient area like a hollow cheek to provide a natural filler. This is a biologically safe procedure because the fat transferred is your 100% match, and it is precisely delivered through a tiny poke in the skin that heals without scarring. The fat transfer in a “stem cell facelift” may be combined with other procedures like a traditional facelift or midface lift, in which case we’d rather be straight forward and say “facelift with fat grafting.” This is a more direct description.
This is also true: The stem cells in our body fat can be separated from the fat and, in a test tube at a research lab, be stimulated to develop into other cell types. There is a lot of impressive research being done in this area so we can learn more about important potential medical uses of stem cells. But do they really play any role in a facelift?
The Real Benefits of Fat Grafting
So, yes, when we transfer fat to the face we do transfer some stem cells with it. However, there just isn’t evidence to suggest that stem cells are what make fat grafting and “stem cell facelifts” work. The reason they work is because much of the transferred fat – about 60-70% – survives, creating long-lasting benefits.
The overall distribution of fat over the body is very important. Too little or too much does not look good. The most common problems with fat distribution is too much in areas like the hips and too little in parts of the face. This means that we may look bottom-heavy while haggard in the face. Fat harvesting can improve an area that is too full, and the harvested fat can then be grafted into tissue-deficient regions. When carefully placed, the added facial volume creates a naturally soft appearance associated with youth, correcting the volume loss many of us experience as we age.
Honest Medicine for Best Results
Our concern with the “stem cell facelift” is not that it’s a bad procedure, but rather that this is not the most accurate description. Some professionals even feel that calling fat grafting a “stem cell facelift” is misleading. When seeking treatment, make sure that your potential cosmetic surgeon relies on science, experience, and skill rather than catchy marketing phrases. Your doctor should be a specialist in facial cosmetic procedures and completely honest about what a treatment does and does not do.
Dr. Steinsapir is among the top cosmetic surgeons in California. He is multi-fellowship-trained in both cosmetic and oculofacial surgery with special emphasis in natural results and fast recovery time. Dr. Steinsapir is straightforward, helping you understand the benefits of treatments you’re considering without any frills or exaggerations. You’ll also find that Dr. Steinsapir is friendly and caring. Because he individualizes each treatment plan based on your personal needs and unique circumstances, you can achieve results that are right for your features. Contact us today to learn more about how fat grafting, a facelift, or another treatment can improve your facial contour.