Does Stem Cell Concentration/Enhancement Improve Facial Fat Transfer Survival Rate?

Doctors say they extract stem cells from some of the unused fat, and then add that to the fat to be injected, multiplying the stem cell density. Seems like it would be hard to have enough extra fat to do this for large areas but maybe for the face? Does this stem cell extraction/concentration work? Is there another technique besides a centrifuge?

Doctor Answers 11

Stem Cell Transfer for Facial Rejuvenation is currently advertising Hype. There is promise in future.

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The FDA specifically prohibits any claim of Stem Cell Transfer by the use of currently approved techniques-if a doctor is advertizing a promise of Stem Cell Transfer be very wary.

Stem Cell Transfer will undoubtedly have a role in Facial Rejuvenation in the future but the best experts estimate that we are 15 years away from a clinically proven method.

That said, there are stem cells present in fat that is harvested, and part of the method for harvesting stem cells involves centrifuging the fat. However other chemical processes are required to purify the stem cells and these are currently research techniques not clinically approved.

Be very wary of any physician who is promoting stem cell therapy unless he/she is a research physician at a major medical school.

Does Stem Cell Concentration/Enhancement Improve Facial Fat Transfer Survival Rate?

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Thank you, Poster9, for the excellent question! We THINK so. There has been far too much of various doctors making claims of therapeutic efficacy in regards to "Stem Cells". Nonetheless, it does appear to be the case that an increased density of stem cells does have positive effects, not only in terms of fat graft survival, but in terms of improved skin appearance and youthfullness. Plastic Surgeon Sydney Coleman has reported such observations as have others. While there have been abuses, we do feel that adding Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF) to our fat grafts has resulted in these very same positive outcomes. Furthermore, there have been no (as in ZERO) adverse SVF related effects/outcomes reported in the world literature. We have been conducting IRB approved Stem Cell (SVF) related studies at Phoenix Stem Cell Treatment Center since 2012 and have seen similar positive outcomes!

Does Stem Cell Concentration/Enhancement Improve Facial Fat Transfer Survival Rate?

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Yet another good questions that does not have an absolute answer.  There have been some remarkable claims made regarding the survival of fat after transfer/grafting, with or without stem cell concentration and enhancement, but not all of them are substantiated.  The latter in particular is a relatively recent and unproven factor, at this stage.  Most commonly, the fat survives to a variable and somewhat degree, which can be frustrating for all involved.  Anticipating that one or more procedures may be necessary to achieve the desired results is an effective way to address this issue.

I hope that this helps and good luck,

Dr. E

No magic with stem cells and fat transfer

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There is good reason to believe that stem cells, which normalyl exist in fat tissue, might help the survival rate of fat transfer but little clinical evidence to back it up at the present time. So it is wise to be wary of the "stem cell facelift" and other clever names. For the amounts of fat that are normally used in facial rejuventation, survival is good without the extra time and expense of stem cell enhancement anyway.

Fat grafting and stem cells

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Stem cells and their role in fat grafting is one of the most publicly misunderstood concepts in plastic surgery.  The short answer is yes, the more stem cells you introduce to healing or engrafting tissues, the better the survival will likely be.  However this becomes irrelevant in fat grafting.   To understand this you must realize what stem cells are.  They are simply a subset of cells called pericytes that line parts of the smallest capillaries in the body.  They are activated and attracted to areas of injury and inflammation.  Using conventional fat grafting techniques with high g-force centrifuge, the stem cells are actually removed from the fat and the fat viability is greatlly reduced.  Thus by enriching stem cell populations all that is really happening is handling and reducing the viability and potential take of the grafts only to add back stem cells in hoping that they will help recover from the insult.

I use a simple technique of very gentle centrifugation to remove any oils and simply preserve the stem cells where they are needed-with the fat and get excellent long term results.  I do not recommend going to a practitioner that tries to sell you on such a technology or product but rather one who can understand your aesthetic concerns and guide you to your goals.  I hope this helps!

All the best,

Rian A. Maercks M.D.

Stem Cells and Fat Transfer

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I have performed hundreds of fat transfers over the years for cosmetic as well as reconstructive defects. As one with a serious clinical interest and an avid reader of the stem cell /fat transfer literatrue I feel you are being truthful when you tell a patient that by harvesting their own fat, then processing it with certain techniques such as centrifugation, the lowest portion of the fat column has been repeatedly show to have as many as 350K stem cells per cc. Thats not hocus pokus, thats in the literature. I feel the younger a patient is, the more stem cells they are likely to have, and the more likely they are more active. No one currently is offering to boost your fat graft with added stem cells that are provided by a lab or company. Over promising stem cells to be some magic face lift or the fountain of youth is unethical, and also not factual.

Stem cells and fat transfer

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Stem cells are likely to be the future of much of medicine. However, we still don't understand the technology enough to make it useful. Anyone advertising a "stem cell" anything is not being honest with the public. Some studies are coming out showing that stem cells are enhancing fat grafting survival, but the proper combination of stem cells vs fat has yet to be established. Also, there are potential complications associated with the use of stem cells and it is wise to wait until this has been proven safe before proceeding. 

Best of luck

Vincent Marin, MD

San Diego Plastic Surgeon

Stem cells and Fat transfer

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There is a lot of hype around stem cells and their effects on tissue. While fat contains stem cells they probably are not clinically significant. Beware of physicians that advertise stem cell transfers or concentration. It is currently against all regulations to transfer purified stem cells into humans without FDA clearance and a specific research protocol. Many physicians advertising stem cell transfers do not actually purify anything and just transfer regular fat.

Leonard Harris, MD
Burlington Plastic Surgeon

Stem Cells Promising But Unproven in Fat Transfer

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Fat tissue contains stem cells in its connective tissues. Stem cells are being researched in many laboratories in the hopes of finding a growth factor or regenerative property that may have many uses in medicine.  Although there is much enthusiasm for their potential,  stem cells have not been shown to improve fat graft survival in humans to date.  At present, the isolation of stem cells is unreliable and time consuming.  If the cells have been out of the body for too long they are unlikely to survive once reinjected.  The state of the art may change but for now it is only pipe dreams and hype.  When stem cells have scientific support for their use I look forward to using them.

Stem cells

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If a Doctor tells you he/she is extracting stem cells, or injectind stem cells, or doing stem cell rejuvenation or stem cell face lift, then that Doctor is being untrueful.

It is true that fat cells contain many stem cells, but we are unable to seperate these stem cells. Only highly specialized labs, One in Italy , one in Japan are seperating what they think are stem cells.

In our offices and hospitals we are unable to seperate stem cells.

People are using the word stem cells to attract patients, sell a procedureand should be reported to the ethics committee, or to their superiors for false advertising and "SCAMS"

Stem cells have a great future in medicine and in plastic surgery, we are not there yet.

Be very carefull choosing such "doctors"

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

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.