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Can Stem Cells Really Be Used to Make Me Look Younger?

My friend told me about some new anti-aging skin treatment where they use live stem cells to repair the skin on your this for real?  I've heard of stem cells being used to treat serious medical conditions, but as an anti-aging skin treatment?!  How does  live stem cell therapy work, and what is it supposed to do for your skin?

Doctor Answers (3)

Stem Cells for Looking Younger


many plastic surgeons who perform structural fat grafting report that patients often describe a variety of improvements in their facial skin following fat grafting surgery. This observation has led to the use of fat grafting in reconstructive surgery, for instance in the management of chronic wounds such as those seen in some patients following radiation treatment for cancer. Fat grafting into the tissues below a chronic, non-healing wound has been shown to stimulate successful wound healing in a number of studies.

So what is responsible for this effect? Many of us suspect that it is produced by 'stem cells' which are known to be present in abundance in human adipose (fatty) tissue. Stem cells are very dynamic human cells which have the capacity to be transformed into any number of cell types (fat, muscle, skin, fascia, etc), and which are capable of producing a variety of proteins which promote the repair of damaged cells and tissues.

Much of the evidence has been anecdotal, i.e. the personal observations of physicians made while treating patients in their usual clinical practice, outside the setting of a specific scientific study. A great deal of basic science research is now being done to specifically determine cause and effect, and it is certain that over the next few years we will gain a much clearer understanding of the healing properties of fatty tissue and stem cells.

Be aware that the term 'stem cell' is increasingly being used in what I feel may be an irresponsible manner - as a marketing gimmick to attract patients to a particular practice or surgeon. Nobody has an exclusive claim or right to the use of stem cells, and as yet no one has demonstrated an objective, quantitative method for measuring any 'stem cell effect' in facial rejuvenation surgery, if it is truly present. I believe that this effect exists, but it currently is not objectively and reproducibly measurable and therefore should not be used to 'sell' surgery.

Web reference:

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Stem cells may be transferred as part of fat grafts


There is anectodal evidence that fat grafting may improve skin condition due to the inherent transfer of mesenchymal stem cells. Stem cells can then stimulate skin to repair itself and improve overall elasticity. There is a new device that allows extraction and injection of stem cells within fat harvest. Clinical trials are being conducted in Europe. I have been performing fat grafting for the past 7 years, have improved my technique and have many satisfied patients. I have noticed significant improvement in skin condition in my own patients.

I participated in clinical trials for Isolagen. This process involes using patients' own skin to reinject growth factors into their skin. The study is about to be completed.

Santa Monica Plastic Surgeon

Stem Cells in Fat Grafting


Adipose Stem Cells work to rejuvenate the skin texture by bringing vascularity to the tissue . Vascularity provides blood supply and nutrients.

The ideal method to isolate adipose stem cells is by enzymatic digestion.  This method produces the most number of Adipose Stem Cells per cc.  However, several papers at the recent 2012 IFATS meeting in Quebec reported that mechanical processing of fat without enzymes can yield a small % of stem cells.   Therefore, even traditional fat grafting can provide some vascularity and make your skin texture improved.  Stem cells from adipose tissue are being used around the world for not only facial rejuvenation, but they are also being used in many Clinical Trials for various diseases.

Regenerative Medicine is a fabulous new area of Medicine. 

Ricardo L Rodriguez


Web reference:

Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.

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