Stem Cell Fat Transplantation: Myth VS. Reality
What is "Stem Cell Facelift"?
"Stem Cell Facelift" is not really an accurate description for a procedure where the patient's own fat is transplanted to the face in certain key areas to replace volume lost with aging. In many cases this is done with some type of facelift to address both volume loss and the effects of gravity. But the term stem cell facelift is only referring to the fat transfer to the face and therefore it should not be called a facelift.
What is fat grafting?
Sometimes also called fat transfer, autologous fat grafting, fat injections or fat grafting refers to the procedure of obtaining one's own fat from the abdomen or other parts of the body and re-implanting it with micro needles into the face, preferably within the deeper tissues of the face to obtain volume. As an injectable filler, your own fat is much better than a synthetic filler since it is your own tissue and lasts longer than any other filler.
What is longevity of fat grafting or injections?
Our doctor believes fat grafts persist longer than any other filler and does not involve any allergic reactions. With Our doctor's microinjection methods and with his careful harvesting techniques done at low pressures to preserve the membranes of the fat cells, 50 percent of the injected fat can last for 5 years. Our doctor has specialized methods to get the fat cells to preserve its integrity which is important for longevity. Our doctor points out that it is not the fat that is important but the fat cell for longevity of the transplanted graft to last.
Can fat transplantation to the face "so called stem cell facelift" be done as an isolated procedure without a traditional facelift?
Yes, if the problem is only volume loss, then autologous fat transplantation can be done alone. However, very often gravitational skin looseness in the neck and jowl also needs to be addressed with volume replenishment. Our doctor states the stem cell fat grafting and traditional facelifts are complementary and each address different components, ie. Volume loss and gravity.
What exactly is all the "hype" about stem cells?
Facial fat transfer procedures revolumize lost facial volume and give a very youthful effect but there is strong evidence that fat contains adult stem cells. Our doctor, a New York City facial plastic surgeon, believes that these stem cells may be responsible for a rejuvenating effect on the skin and other tissues of the face, other than just a volume filling effect from fat. Much research is currently being done about these extra benefits of stem cells and Our doctor is currently performing research on this topic with other worldwide researchers to determine its validity.
Can Stem cell transplantations replace a facelift?
No, stem cell fat transplantation does not address a loose neck or jowl. It is used to fill out the fat depleted face and does nothing for the neck or jowls. If you need a facelift and have loose jowls or neck, a partial facelift is your best option. You may also do stem cell fat transplantation as an adjunctive procedure with the partial facelift to further improve your upper face and cheeks.
How does stem cell fat transplantation work?
Fullness of the brow, temple region, cheeks, and lips are youthful characteristics. As we age, this youthful fullness disappears and as this youthful fullness disappears, the underlying bone and blood vessels become more apparent and give a hollow older appearance. This skeletal look ages the individual and fat transplantation is a key element to youth, along with a defined jawline and neck, achieved with a facelift. Our doctor's fat grafting techniques helps restore the brow, temples, cheeks, and lips to more youthful healthy proportions.
Can Our doctor explain the mechanism behind this volume loss?
Our doctor describes the aging process as gravitational as well as volume loss or absorption. As we age our underlying collagen and elastic tissue begins to break down and wrinkles appear. We also begin to lose some subcutaneous fat under the skin and fat in the cheek fat pad. This brings about a hollow, skeletal look. Fat grafting can be combined with a facelift to restore a natural, unstretched look to the face. Older facelift techniques appear stretched and unnatural but newer facelifts combined with fat grafting is the key to natural rejuvenation.
What are risks and complications of fat grafting?
The complications may be aesthetic such as too little or too much tissue reimplanted. Your body may absorb the fat too quickly. Fat absorption varies among individuals. Our doctor is conservative with fat injections to achieve a natural result. You may require an additional procedure to add more fat if your body absorbs it too quickly.
Some irregularities or lumps may occur but this is rare with Our doctor's microinjection techniques and with deeper injections. Our doctor states that superficial injections result in more irregularities than deeper injections.
Other risks include prolonged swelling, bruising, asymmetry, and rarely infection. Occasionally, bruising at the injection site may indicate a superficial blood vessel which ruptures. Fat embolism, where some of the injected fat enters the bloodstream is extremely rare and serious complication.
You may be unhappy with the results also because of the decreased longevity of the fat grafts. It is impossible to predict exactly how long each fat transfer will last in every person because there are differences in absorption in individual patients which depend on genetic factors, stress, smoking, and other factors. If you choose your surgeon wisely, your chance of a positive outcome increases and rate of complications decrease. But realize that even in the best of hands, complications do occur.
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35 yo male who requested a more youthful cheek and forehead. Patient underwent stem cell autogenous fat transfer (fat grafting) from the abdominal fat into the temple and cheek area. Note the hollowing in the cheek/eye area is much improved as well as the sinking of the sides of forehead. This technique with stem cell fat grafting has a rejuvenating effect which is more than just volume. The stem cell regenerate the youthful glow and youthful look to the cheeks and the skin of the face.
55 year old female who underwent stem cell fat transplantation to the cheek area. Patient looks more youthful and the cheeks look fuller.