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Adipose-Derived Stem Cells In Cosmetic Surgery: Ready For Prime Time?

Are adipose-derived stem cells in cosmetic surgery ready for prime time use in your cosmetic practice?

Google “aesthetic stem cell treatments” and you will be greeted with a panoply of therapeutic offerings ranging from mundane to fantastic. Injecting your own adipose derived stem cells can lift your face, tighten your skin, enlarged your breast, slow the ageing process and even put some zip in your libido if injected into anatomically correct nether regions. Cosmeceutical manufacturers are even putting non-viable stem cells into facial creams hoping to knock 10 years off your visage. These marketing claims have captivated the public with the promise of a minimally invasive fountain of youth.

Adipose-derived stem cells are multipotent and possess the ability to differentiate into fat, bone, cartilage, nerves and pancreatic tissue.  They also secrete cytokines that are angiogenic, antioxidative and immunosuppressive. They release a whole host of growth factors that facilitate wound healing and tissue regeneration. Stem cells hold great clinical potential and offer considerable commercial possibilities.

We are all very enthusiastic about the promise and potential offered by the emerging field of adipose- derived stem cell science. Encouraging data from hundreds of ongoing international trials support a bright future for aesthetic and regenerative applications and real progress has been made in developing methodologies and protocols for every day clinical use. Yet many are advising caution.

A recent review in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery notes that there is considerable uncertainty about the true clinical potential of adipose-derived stem cells and too much remains unknown about their fundable biology to be used safely and reliably. There are several contradictory studies about whether these cells promote or repress cancer growth. There are no standard protocols yet developed for adipose-derived stem cell applications. We still are unsure of the number of cells required per treatment or how many treatments are needed to achieve a desired clinical outcome predictably. In short, we are not quite sure what we are doing yet with adipose-derived stem cells despite the encouraging science and our best intentions.

A lot remains unknown about how to effectively and safely use this new technology. To market aesthetic stem cell procedures outside of clinical trials to the public seems a bit deceptive considering the current state of the art. What do you think??

References (3)

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Reader Comments (4)

This is interesting. I was just reading this from both the ASPS and ASAPS which issued a joint statement on cosmetic stem cell therapies. Here is a summary of their statement:

1. The marketing and promotion of stem cell procedures in aesthetic surgery is not adequately supported by clinical evidence at this time.

2. Until further evidence is available, stem cell therapies in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery should be conducted within clinical studies under Institutional Review Board approval, including compliance with all guidelines for human medical studies.

3. Stem cell based procedures should be performed in compliance with FDA regulatory guidelines. If devices are employed that are subject to regulation by the FDA, surgeons should use these devices with appropriate approval in place, especially when used for investigational purposes.

4. Standard fat grafting procedures that do transfer some stem cells naturally present within the tissue should be described as fat grafting procedures, not stem cell procedures.

06.27 | Unregistered CommenterHWS

I'm curious as to how much hesitancy there is in America to embrace what looks to be a very promising field. I know that there are physicians in Canada who are using stem cells but there's a perception, at least on my part, that doctors in the US would be hard pressed to work with stem cells if that were made public. Is that the case?

06.27 | Unregistered CommenterFerdinand

Nevertheless, I'll be the first in line to add this on my practice once there are standard protocols. It seems to be a lucrative procedure!

Clearly, this field of medicine needs further evaluation. Nothing about fat grafting/adipose-derived stem cells is not yet standardized. Meanwhile, a lot of companies are pouring millions of $$$ into creating stem cell separators. Any attempt to explore the field is probably better than none.

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