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Stem Cell Cosmetic Surgery under Scrutiny

Andrew | August 12, 2014 | Posted in Facelift

stem cell cosmetic surgeryStem cell cosmetic surgery has become a popular option for many doctors and patients, but a recent review published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery had words of warning for patients. Authors of the review cautioned that advertising for stem cell procedures was running far ahead of clinical evidence to support the safety and efficacy of current stem cell use in aesthetic medicine.

The report, written by Dr. Michael T. Longaker of Stanford University Medical Center and colleagues, was published in the August issue of the medical journal. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is considered the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), one of the most recognized and respected organizations in aesthetic medicine today. Authors of the report said their review was prompted by growing concerns over advertisements proclaiming numerous benefits of stem cell procedures – many of which have not been substantiated with clinical research and solid evidence.

“Stem cells offer tremendous potential, but the marketplace is saturated with unsubstantiated and sometimes fraudulent claims that may place patients at risk,” Dr. Longaker stated on the ASPS website.

Stem cell benefits: truth or hype?

Stem cells are now being touted by some physicians for their ability to enhance all types of cosmetic procedures, from “face lifts” to breast augmentation. Minimally-invasive aesthetic procedures using stem cells promise everything from skin rejuvenation to the ability to turn back the clock on one’s appearance. Authors of the review completed Google searches on stem cell procedures, and found many websites advertising procedures, especially stem cell face lifts.

However, Dr. Longaker and his associates did not find much specific information on any of these websites about the quality of stem cells used. In addition, some of the “stem cell” treatments advertised actually used platelet-rich plasma proteins, rather than true stem cells. The coauthors of the report pointed out a variety of cells in addition to stem cells were likely used in many treatments that basically consisted of fat grafting – removing fat from one area of the body and injecting it into another.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are found throughout the body and have the ability to develop into different types of cells as they mature. They also release growth factors that aid in the healing process and regeneration of tissue. Stem cells are currently under investigation for their potential in treating a wide range of medical conditions and injuries. However, research into cosmetic treatments has been limited to date, and the FDA has only approved stem cells in one cosmetic procedure to address fine facial lines.

The ASPS and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) formed a joint task force in 2011 to address concerns about stem cell cosmetic surgery. At that time, the organizations created recommendations for physicians and patients to ensure accurate advertising and safe and effective use of stem cells in treatments. One recommendation was for patients to seek out surgeons with board certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, to ensure the surgeon they choose is highly trained and knowledgeable about a wide range of facial plastic surgery procedures.

Reputable NY plastic surgeon

Dr. Thomas Loeb has been board-certified by the ABPS for over two decades. During that time, he has been treating patients in his private practice in New York City, performing a wide range of cosmetic procedures and surgeries. Dr. Loeb offers a stellar record of patient satisfaction and will help guide you to the best procedure for your specific needs. Dr. Loeb stays current on the latest technology and procedures in aesthetic medicine, and knows which procedures offer the best results.

To learn more about your cosmetic surgery options, contact Dr. Loeb’s office at 212-327-3700 to schedule your private consultation.

+ Resources
- Resources
  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “Unsubstantiated, Sometimes Fraudulent Claims” for Cosmetic Procedures Using Stem Cells, Says Review in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,
  2. WebMD, Most Cosmetic Procedures Based on Stem Cells Bogus,
  3. New York Times, The Debate over Stem Cell Facelifts,


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