Recently there has been a great deal of interest in the use of stem cells to increase the effectiveness of facial rejuvenation and other cosmetic procedures. The hope has been to improve the procedure’s results and its predictability. Certainly, there has been a great deal of advertising done by many plastic surgeons across the country to make us believe that stem cell rejuvenation is here, today. However, after careful evaluation of the scientific literature on the use of stem cells in plastic surgery the two major plastic surgical societies in the United States have issued a cautionary statement for people considering the procedure.

The statement comes from a joint task force commissioned by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). The head of the task force summarized the results: “There are encouraging data from laboratory and clinical studies to suggest that the use of adult stem cells is a very promising field, but as our comprehensive review of the current scientific literature shows, the data available today do not substantiate the marketing claims being made to patients seeking aesthetic surgery and aesthetic medical treatments.”

Much of the report’s language is directed at plastic surgeons, trying to curb the excesses of rhetoric and advertising surrounding stem cells in facial rejuvenation, there is some useful information for potential plastic surgery patients regarding the use of stem cells in facial rejuvenation and elsewhere. In particular, if you are considering facial rejuvenation with stem cells, here are some questions you should ask your surgeon:

  • Is this really a stem cell procedure? Because fat naturally contains what may be loosely described as “stem cells” (sometimes described as adipose-derived regenerative cells or adipose-derived stromal cells), some surgeons will say you are getting stem cell therapy when you are actually just getting regular fat grafting.
  • Is there a scientific basis for the results you are promising me?
  • Is this procedure being performed as part of a clinical study? Stem cell procedures are investigational and the ASPS and the ASAPS recommend they should only be performed as part of a clinical study, including proper data collection and reporting to advance the state of knowledge on the procedures.
  • Is my procedure being performed in compliance with FDA guidelines? Not only are the techniques investigational, but some of the technology used by some surgeons is not yet FDA-approved for marketing in the US. To ensure maximum safety, make sure that the technology your surgeon is using is either FDA-approved. If it is being used as part of a registered approval study, you should be informed.

Finally, you have to understand that currently the science does not support claims that the use of stem cells can give you better results than you get from a traditional facelift or from breast augmentation using breast implants. Instead, you should ask to see examples of your surgeon’s results to determine whether you feel comfortable undergoing the procedure.

To talk to board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Vasdev Rai about the current state of the art in plastic surgery, including the use of stem cells for facial rejuvenation and body contouring, please contact the Cosmetic Surgical Center in Dallas, Texas today to schedule a consultation.