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 36

Stem Cell Facelift

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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
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Stem Cell Facelift

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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
4.7 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Stem cells in the face and facial rejuventation

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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.

It is hype

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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.

The term "Stem Cell Facelift" is inaccurate

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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 Facelift - If it Quacks like a Duck...

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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

Stem Cell Face Lift is just marketing hype

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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 (retired)
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon

New is not always better

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This is a topic of interest for me. It is complicated. The theory is strong but as you have seen the results do vary. 

In my hands the "stem cell" lift consist of either platelet rich plasma or fat transfer. Both of these techniques are used to replace lost volume. They work well for that reason. A portion of it is absorbed and that needs to be appreciated. It really is all about expectations. Expectations of both the patient and the surgeon. I recommend finding a surgeon you trust and taking the time to make sure you are both on the same page. 

We are currently doing some research with fat transfer and a processor that reduces the size and increases the consistency of the transfer. We have good results so far but the best is yet to come. 

Hope this helps.

Best of luck,


Benjamin Caughlin, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Stem Cell Facelifts Include Fat Grafting

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While it is possible to “supercharge” fat grafts with extra, isolated stem cells, there is no solid evidence that this provides a better result than an excellent facelift with fat grafting. I've used fat grafting as a standard part of traditional rhytidectomy for many years, with some really spectacular results.

When our faces age, they not only lose tightness, they lose volume. So merely lifting and tightening the skin is not sufficient to rejuvenate your face. A fat graft uses fat from the abdominal area and places it in the mid-face to create a natural looking and youthful volume to the lifted face. These fat grafts, by the way, are already loaded with stem cells. I'm not sure there is any verifiable value to adding more.

Other procedures I often recommend as an adjunct to a face lift are blepharoplasty, brow lift, chin liposuction and sometimes even a chin implant to provide more angulation of the jaw. These procedures done together create a “wow” factor that takes years off your face while still looking natural and “un-done.” I hope this helps.

Stem cell facelift

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This typically refers to fat grafting, as it is thought that the fat may contain stem cells. This is rapidly becoming an established technique to improve volume issues in facelift. 

Bryan Correa, MD
Houston 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.