Do Stem Cell Facelifts Work?

Q: Dr. Eppley, do you do stem cell facelifts and what do you think of them? Do they really work?

A:  Stem cells and their many potential uses are one of the hottest topics in all of medicine today. Much research is going into whether they have healing benefits for many diseases. It is no surprise that their appeal has reached plastic surgery as well, particularly given that fat and its extraction by liposuction is the best method to obtain them. And many people have more than an adequate store of donor fat. Fat has been shown to contain up to 500X more stem cells than bone marrow and plastic surgeons are employing many innovative ways to apply them to both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. 

Stem cells and facelifts seem like an odd combination given that facial aging hardly seems like a disease problem. But some plastic surgeons have been using them for the purposes of an enhanced healing and skin rejuvenation effect.There are two types of so-called stem cell facelifts. Those that use stem cells or stem cell -enhanced fat injections as an adjunct to a more traditional facelift procedure. Then there are those that use the stem cells or stem cell-enhanced fat as the primary method of doing the facelift, which is really known as facial volume enhancement creating some lifting effect by skin expansion. To date, either approach remains appealing in theory rather than a proven science in facial rejuvenation efforts.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana