Saturday, May 28th, 2011
You may have seen advertising for stem cell facelifts and breast augmentation. Some cosmetic and plastic surgeons are touting these treatments as cutting edge procedures that promise results far greater than anything we’ve ever seen in plastic surgery. So what is the truth behind stem cell cosmetic surgery?
Stem cells are definitely the future of medicine and plastic surgery. But the truth is, the claims of today’s marketing have pushed far ahead of the actual science supporting these cosmetic stem cell treatments. The two most prominent plastic surgery societies, ASPS and ASAPS (both of which I am a member), have issued a joint statement on cosmetic stem cell therapies. Here is a summary of their statement:
1. The marketing and promotion of stem cell procedures in aesthetic surgery is not adequately supported by clinical evidence at this time.
2. Until further evidence is available, stem cell therapies in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery should be conducted within clinical studies under Institutional Review Board approval, including compliance with all guidelines for human medical studies.
3. Stem cell based procedures should be performed in compliance with FDA regulatory guidelines. If devices are employed that are subject to regulation by the FDA, surgeons should use these devices with appropriate approval in place, especially when used for investigational purposes.
4. Standard fat grafting procedures that do transfer some stem cells naturally present within the tissue should be described as fat grafting procedures, not stem cell procedures.
So what does this all mean? Simply put, the devices that separate stem cells from regular cells are not FDA approved at this time for use in cosmetic applications. Therefore, any physician who utilizes these devices for cosmetic use in patients should obtain approval by the appropriate boards for performing human experimentation. There is a lack of scientific evidence to support the many unjustified claims of stem cell facelifts and breast enhancements that are currently being promoted by a handful of doctors. So if you are considering a stem cell cosmetic treatment, two words of advice: Buyer Beware.
For the position statement by ASPS and ASAPS, click here.
To read my memoir about becoming a plastic surgeon, touted by The Doctors’ Dr. Drew Ordon as “brilliant and bouncy,” click here.
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
Now, don’t get me wrong. Back in the day, I really liked Suzanne Somers. She could have knocked on my door anytime. But now… what the heck happened to her face? Her face is so puffy it looks like it’s been stung by a hive of bees.
My most faithful blog readers may recall a post from just over a year ago stating that Suzanne was planning to have a stem cell facelift. If you don’t remember, you can check out the post here. Well, it appears that she may have done just that.
So what is a stem cell facelift, you ask? It’s basically facial fat grafting using fat that is supercharged with stem cells. A doctor harvests some fat via liposuction, removes concentrated stem cells from a portion of it, then injects the remaining fat that is ‘supercharged’ with the stem cells into areas of the face which are gaunt. The idea is that the stem cells will cause a greater percentage of the grafted fat to survive and possibly even improve the skin quality. Currently there are a handful of physicians advertising stem cell facelifts in the U.S. but in reality the machinery needed to remove and concentrate stem cells are not FDA approved for cosmetic use. HOWEVER, there are people in other countries who may be using real stem cells to enhance their facelifts, so it is definitely possible that Suzanne went overseas to get this procedure done.
She obviously had something done to give her a pillow face!
For the ultimate plastic surgery tell-all, check out Dr. Youn’s critically acclaimed memoir about plastic surgery, In Stitches! It includes a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon using leeches to salvage a woman’s nipples, massive man-boobs, and even reconstructing a face mauled by a raccoon. Dr. 90210 Robert Rey: “I highly recommend it!” The Doctors Dr. Drew Ordon: “Brilliant, humorous and energetic.” In Stitches is available on Amazon.com here: In Stitches
Photo credit: prphotos.com
Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
Stem cells are now being used for Breast Augmentation overseas. Specifically, the procedure is gaining in popularity in Japan and is being introduced in Great Britain. The procedure involves removing fat from the abdomen (fat is rich in stem cells) and using a machine to concentrate the stem cells prior to injecting it into the breasts. It’s estimated that women can achieve a cup size or greater enhancement to their breast size.
What are my thoughts on stem cell breast augmentation?
First of all, it’s going to be a long time before the FDA approves any devices designed to concentrate stem cells for cosmetic breast augmentation. With 1 in 9 women developing breast cancer in their lifetime, it is extremely important for physicians to be sure that stem cell breast augmentation does not increase the risk of breast cancer, delay or interfere with the diagnosis of breast cancer, or worsen the prognosis of breast cancer if it is diagnosed.
Second, many physicians are performing fat grafting to the breast, which is the closest thing we currently have to stem cell breast enhancement. The big difference between the two is that generic fat grafting to the breast doesn’t have as high a concentration of stem cells, but the stem cells are still present. One of the controversies surrounding fat grafting to the breast revolves around possible mammographic changes that can occur with the surgery. For this reason, I perform fat grafting to the breasts very sparingly, and only when breast implants are not possible. I have been happy with the results in the rare patients whom I perform this on, however.
For now, stem cell breast augmentation is only available for women who are willing to travel overseas. For the rest of Americans, it’s Breast Implants or Bust!
Thanks for reading,
Michigan-based Plastic Surgeon
Anthony Youn, M.D.: