Facelift Using Stem Cells?

How does the longevity of results for a facelift using stem cells compared to traditional procedures? Which method requires less surgical procedures overall to preserve the results of a facelift indefinitely?

Doctor Answers 24

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.

In my practice fat grafting is not an afterthought that is thrown into the surgical plan for the occasional patient. It is a key component of almost every major facial rejuvenation surgery that I perform. It is in fact that very first part of the surgical procedure for my patients undergoing a full facial rejuvenation surgery.

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 120 reviews

Face Lift

There is no procedure that actually uses stem cells, adding fat we know has stem cells but we have no idea what they are doing

Ryan Neinstein, MD, FRCSC
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Facelift with Stem Cells

   Fat harvested from the abdomen and elsewhere contains stem cells, which can be transferred during facial fat grafting procedures.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

Face lift with stem cells from fat

No one really knows the answer but we do know that face lifts done with fat injections (presumably rich with stem cells) such as in the link bellow, do produce superior and longer -lasting results

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 221 reviews

Stem Cells and Facelifts

The first thing to understand is that there is no such entity as a "stem cell facelift."  The proper term should be Stem Cell Augmented Facelift as stem cells do not lift anything but they do provide, when added to fat for transfer, a demonstrable improvement in the take of the grafted fat and when the fat- stem cell combination is injected adjacent to the dermis of the skin, the skin responds to the stem cell release of a myriad of well known growth factors by becoming more youthful in appearance.  The fat cells provide volume which causes a further youthfulness in facial appearance. The length of time that these effects last is the only unknown at this time. Given what we know about the aging process, the effects of fat and stem cells should last for years.

Paul S. Howard, MD, FACS
Hoover Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Facelift - Facelift Using Stem Cells?

Good question, and one that many people are looking to have answered.

Despite all the hype and exposure, there is a relative lack of agreement on exactly what a Stem Cell Facelift is.  Is it a surgical facelift with the addition of stem cells (ie, separately prepared and concentrated cells that have been identified as such), or fat injections, or something else?  Even knowing the answer to that question, there is a lack of strong scientific evidence supporting a rational decision. 

The Stem Cell Facelift may ultimately the standard by which other procedures are measured.  But I do not believe that that is yet the case.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Alan M. Engler, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 125 reviews

Facelift and stem cells

Facelift with stem cells really means fat injection. The fat injection can be permanent but I do warn patients that they may need further fat grafting to supplement what they already have.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Stem Cells and Face Lifts

There is no evidence that a "Stem Cell Face Lift" has any increased longevity over traditional face lift procedures.  There is also no evidence that the use of stem cells is any different than simple fat grafting.  The claims that the use of stem cells will result in restoring the plumpness, smoothness, and tightening of the skin seen in the youthful face are simply unproven.  The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has released a joint position paper recommending that any aesthetic or reconstructive procedures using stem cells should be performed in clinical trials that are monitored by an Institutional Review Board.

Michael Sundine, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Stem Cells

This is a very interesting topic. First, let me bring some clarity. When discussing "stem cell facelift," I'm assuming you mean using fat injections to bring fullness to areas of the face that have lost volume. Fat contains stem cells and so by definition, by injecting fat, you are also injecting stem cells (which incidentally are not pleuripotent-in other words, the best kind). This topic was discussed 50 years ago. Sending your cells to a factory to remove the pure form of the cells is probably a scam and a way of stealing your money. For some people, the combination of fat injections to improve volume deficiency and a facelift will give an overall better appearance.

Jacob Freiman, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 271 reviews

Stem Cell Facelifts vs. Traditional Facelifts

As you can see by the large number of responses, this is a hot topic among plastic surgeons.  That's because there are so many claims being made of the benefits for using stem cells in cosmetic medicine and very little evidence to support those claims.  Do your research and avoid procedures that claim superiority based on unfounded data.  

I leave with these words of wisdom:

   -"There is a sucker born every minute."-P.T. Barnum

   -"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."-Mom

   _"Remember the marketing director never sleeps."-Lund

As others have stated; please consult with a board certified plastic surgeon and also look at the information on the websites of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and The American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Hope this helps.


Herluf G. Lund, Jr, MD
Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 84 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.