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Vertical Facelift Before and After PhotoThere is a lot of hype in the media about stem cell facelift, and it is important for a potential patient interested in a facelift or facial rejuvenation to understand what it is true and false about the procedure.

Plastic surgeons that are not doing stem cell facelifts disregard the procedure as “hot air.” They tell their patients that there are no advantages to using stem cells and that it is just a gimmick for marketing. This is a common attitude that many scientists have when they are faced with innovations. It usually takes time for new discoveries to get accepted.

Stem cells for facelifts and facial rejuvenation have been a topic of discussion for some time. Some other plastic surgeons claim that they are doing stem cell facelifts, but they are simply injecting fat that has been purified and not really doing anything new!

The discovery in the last decade that there was a population of adult stem cells present in the adipose tissue (fat) triggered new potential applications in regenerative medicine and the plastic surgery arena. The stem cells, along with other lines of regenerative cells, have the potential to trigger the formation of new blood vessels in the areas where they are injected and, therefore, jump start a regenerative process in the tissues. This discovery has an immense potential, but it needs to be substantiated by more data and facts.

In facelifts, the plastic surgeon has struggled for decades to deliver a natural look. Part of the problem is that the face, even if it has been lifted, still looks like an old face that has been lifted. With the introduction of the stem cells, there is a possibility that the skin itself may be rejuvenated and appear younger and fresher. This would be a monumental advance in plastic surgery.

There is some empirical evidence that fat grafting by itself can produce skin texture improvement, and there is plenty of literature to support it. Extracting the regenerative cells and stem cells from the fat is a somewhat controversial subject because the most common system to do that (enzymatic digestion with collagenase) is still not well accepted. In a true stem cell facelift, the stem cells are extracted from the fat and then re-injected in combination with the facelift procedure itself. This could potentially lead to a true rejuvenation procedure where the actual skin will look younger. More data needs to be collected, and more research needs to be done to prove some of these concepts, but regenerative medicine is here to stay.

Dr. Calabria has been on the forefront of stem cell facelifts. He has presented his stem cell facelift procedure at international meetings, has written a book chapter on the topic, and has been recognized by his peers for his innovative approach.