The law of unintended consequences applies to President George W. Bush when he banned embryonic stem cell research. The unintended consequence was the search for adult stem cells and the knowledge that there is an almost limitless amount of adult stem cells located in fat or adipose tissue. This fact places plastic surgeons at the epicenter of the stem cell revolution. Who better than a board certified plastic surgeon is in a position to obtain the necessary fat (liposuction) which is then processed to obtain adipose tissue derived stem cells?
These adipose derived stem cells can be utilized for a myriad of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. For our purposes, these all-purpose stem cells are the basis of all of our facial and skin rejuvenation procedures. It is a well-documented fact that stem cells, when reintroduced into the face, causes any fat which is re-injected, to “take” better and as a secondary benefit the stem cells release a number of “growth factors” that improve skin by reducing the visible signs of aging.
It is important to realize that you cannot share your stem cells with anyone else nor can you use stem cells from another person. The fat must be processed immediately and re-injected with the stem cells during the same operation as it is difficult to store adipose tissue for further use. We have developed a “stem cell lab” within the confines of our sterile operating room. The lab equipment costs little and only requires basic laboratory experience (such as the experience obtained with a B.S. in Chemistry).
Every medical breakthrough goes through stages. First, there is disbelief followed by hyperbole. The hyperbole stage is manifest by over hyping the benefits and the beginning of named procedures such as the “Stem Cell Lift” which basically does not exist. Realistically, stem cells do not tighten skin or “lift” anything. They are a great addition to volume enhancement by increasing the take of fat grafts and clearly stem cells cause your skin to rejuvenate by erasing age spots, increase skin thickness, and improve fine lines and wrinkles. Most patients who have had our stem cell rejuvenation describe their skin as smoother and typically glowing. Stem cell augmented fat transfer has become a staple in our rejuvenation procedures and at a minimal charge to the patient.