Stem Cell Facelift, Vampire Facelifts? Buyer Beware!


Vampire faceliftMy office received a phone call last week asking if we offered either stem cell facelifts or vampire facelifts?? We were happy to say no…not that we do not like being early adopters of new technology, but because these two procedures have marketing claims that are far ahead of any science. In other words…HYPE.

So what might advertisers mean by stem cell facelift? Fat is one of the body’s tissues that carry adult stem cells. When a facelift is performed, fat can be added to bring fullness to sites of volume loss. In fat transfer to the face, a small number of stem cells may be moved at the same time. We do not know how many (if any!) are being transferred, and we do not know if they will become activated in their new home, to provide the hoped for repair and youthful, healthy look. The procedure for fat grafting is a good one, but calling it a “stem cell” facelift is hyperbole (HYPE!!).

The “vampire” facelift is also not ready for prime time. The procedure involves drawing a tube of your blood, spinning it down to isolate the portion that contains the most white cells, known as the buffy coat. The theory is that this fraction contains more growth factors and possibly stem cells. To date this is all unproven. Surgeons that use this as a selling point for their services  are trying to win confidence by suggesting that they are employing a “cutting edge” technology, but these claims are unfounded.

The American Society of Plastic Surgery and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons published a joint position paper in 2011 on stem cells and fat grafting. In this paper they state:

“Extreme caution should be exercised when a physician is promising results from any treatment that sounds too good to be true. Stem cells in aesthetic surgery are promising, but marketing claims are far ahead of the science.”

Category: Anti-aging, Beauty, Doctor-Patient Relationship, Fat Transfer / Fat Grafting, Stem Cell Research & Regeneration

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