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Opinions on Stem Cell Facelift?

Is the "stem cell facelift" hype or something worth looking into? I have seen wonderful before and after photos, but I have learned not to always trust them. Thank you for your input.

Doctor Answers 31

Stem Cell Facelift

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.


Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Stem Cell Facelift

Stem cell facelifts have been marketed as a new facial rejuvenation tool when in reality we have been performing a variant of that for many years - fat grafting (fat transfer). There are many stem cells in fat and by transferring the fat to the face (or other body part) there is not just a filling effect but a rejuvenative effect on the skin and perhaps other tissues. In a "stem cell facelift" some fat may be removed and stem cells isolated then added to other fat (also called supercharged fat grafting) prior to grafting. Current thinking is that the added stem cells may increase the take of the fat. This procedure is in its infancy and we just dont know the added or detrimental effects or the potential regulatory issues surrounding it.

Jason Pozner, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Stem Cell Facelift - If it Quacks like a Duck...

You are right - it is marketing hype.

Dr. Pozner is absolutely right. Fat transfer to the face has been done for years with good results. But you got to admire the sheer marketing blarney of re-labeling it as a "Stem Cell Facelift"...Personally, I would pick a surgeon who does not resort to such self promotion.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

It is hype

i been doing fat grafting to the face for the last 12 years and there is some changes to the skin.I do not think tht stem cell will lift your tissue,and give the same results as the face lift. If you have loss of fat and volume in your face,the fat injection will help.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

Stem cells in the face and facial rejuventation

Stem cells are pluripotent cells that can differentiate into the transplanted tissue into like tissue. I like fat grafting to acheive filling because it provides these stem cells which give a lasting effect on the face. Our patient shown here has undergone facelift, browlift, and facial fat grafting.

Jose E. Barrera, MD, FACS
San Antonio Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

The term "Stem Cell Facelift" is inaccurate

In accordance with a few other commentators, I would have to disagree with the merits of this title.  However, I have to emphasize that we are entering an exciting time in facial rejuventation and medicine in general, as we learn more about the therapeutic effects of adult adipose-derived stem cells.

There is encouraging scientific and clinical evidence that the stem cells withn fat grafts has an additional "regenerative" effect in the surrounding tissue. In fact, currently there is technology available outside US to exctract stem cells and inject "stem cell-enhance" fat grafts. 

So I would say that the premature marketing ploy of some cosmetic doctors notwithstanding, we are entering an exciting new era in facial rejuvenation and enhancement.

Reza Nabavian, MD
Santa Monica Plastic Surgeon

Stem Cell Face Lift is just marketing hype

Fat grafting has been about in various forms for many years.

Dr. Sidney Coleman of New York has popularized fat grafting which is so far no different than stem cell grafting. It can be used to fill out the fat depleted face and does nothing long term for the neck and does not alter the jowls but rather disguises them.

In my hands the recovery and distortion after adequate fat grafting is actually longer than a face-lift because you have to overcorrect the face to allow for fat adsorbtion and loss over time. If you do not overcorrect the results will not be as lasting.

If you truly need a face-lift, fat grafting will not be an adequate or durable substitute. It is frequently used as part of surgical facial -rejuvination where it seems to work best/

Dr. Mayl

Nathan Mayl, MD
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Stem Cell Facelift

Thank you for your question. With various plastic surgeons throughout the country attempting to “revolutionize” the surgery world with “miracle cures”, it is difficult to tell which procedures actually work and which ones don’t. Stem cell facelifts, which rely on stem cells found in fat from the thighs, buttocks, and lower body area which supposedly “revitalize” local cells, show moderate promise in that some patients have noticed a marked improvement in their skin and soft facial tissues. However, nothing has shown, so far, that this procedure is any better for improving appearance than other fat augmentation procedures. Again, it is a new form which has to be looked into, but caution is probably the best option right now.The problem with the stem cell facelift is that it is not really a facelift in the true sense, but rather a modified method of fat grafting. Studies have shown that it really does not do more for the patient than simple fat transfer which can last for several years.

Ramtin Kassir, MD
Wayne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Stem cell facelift

I'm afraid there is no such thing as a stem cell 'facelift'. This term has been coined as a marketing tool so that people think they are getting the ultimate in facial rejuvenation. Having said that, stem cells do seem to offer some considerable benefit in regenerating tissue. Techniques have been used for many years now in different reconstructive settings with very encouraging results. In mine and many other practices, surgeons of her facelifts with stem cell techniques accompanying them and this can produce very effective and natural looking results. My advice is to be careful and to examine closely what is on offer. You will not get any kind of lift from stem cells though their regenerative  properties can certainly be of benefit

Verdict is still out on stem cell fat transfer

The hard science is still lacking to definitively prove merit of stem cell in fat transfer procedures. Does the fat have stem cells in them? YES. Does a fat transfer give you a lift? YES, if placed in a proper facial compartment, any filler will give you a lift. Is the name  "Stem Cell Lift" misleading, YES. Therefore,I agree with the comments below that some use it as a marketing ploy. However, I still think fat grafting is a nice adjunct and anecdotally the skin looks younger over the areas of fat transfer, so it is unclear whether something activates the skin from beneath or is it just an effect of stretching the skin. My guess is that we will find out more over the next few years.

Joseph Shvidler, MD
Tacoma Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

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.