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The Stem Cell Facelift: Self-Delusional Surgery
Posted Tue, Oct 26, 2010

Recently ads for a stem cell facelift have been promising to enhance signs of facial aging by injecting stem cells derived from liposuction harvest into the face. This follows much of the minimally effective PRP injections for the same purpose. What makes the stem cell nonsense particularly vexing is that there is no evidence that the injected fat even has stem cells within the transplanted material. “Under Federal regulation 21 CFR 1271.3(d) “stem cell based products” are defined as tissue transplantations that may or may not contain stem cells and are used for a defined medical condition.” according to Spencer Brown PhD at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Tx. In addition it is my observation that the public proponents of what appears to me to be a hoax are often well known physicians who have been paid by companies that either sell liposuction equipment or stem cell harvesting and infiltrating equipment.
As a child one of my favorite stories was “The Emperor and His New Clothes” and I never tired of re-reading it. I did not suspect that I would experience such overt deceptions in my adult life. As a child the story was an allegory describing self-indulgent pride and false self-importance. Now it is mostly about money. Noted physician-speakers parade around the country at medical society meetings promoting their quasi-scientific experience in return for financial remuneration from manufacturers. Marketing departments at manufacturers are given veto power over information dissemination by science and research laboratories. And a very gullible and superficial consumer population purchases these ruses in an attempt to impress their contemporaries by conquering aging.
Perhaps it is frightening to consumers to examine the changes of aging and to respond appropriately. I have spoken to numerous professional photographers and hair stylists who are able to take 10-20 years off someone’s face in 1 hour. But somehow that isn’t magical enough, isn’t cool enough for this particular population. For many women rather than reduce layers of caked make-up from their face they would rather purchase creams with secret formulations which can then be layered with gobs of make-up. For others, they would rather engage their fantasies of youthful long hair rather than cut their hair and wear it off their face and actually look more youthful. And for some, they would rather have a stem cell treatment that may contain no stem cells at all rather than use fillers that have proven efficacy. Again, according to Dr Brown, “Currently, there are no FDA approved ASC isolation devices, ASC procedures for use in medical conditions, or ASC stem cell clinics in the U.S.” (ASC-autologous stem cell). If Dr. Brown tells us that there is no assurance that stem cell materials contain stem cells and there are no devices to isolate stem cells, then I think this exciting technology should be placed in the hands of scientists for future development and removed from the purview of consumers.

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Edward Lack
ABOUT THIS EXPERT
Edward Lack MD is a board certified dermatologist and a board certified dermatologic cosmetic surgeon. He is President and Medical Director of MetropolitanMD, a multispecialty cosmetic surgery center in Chicago,which is unique in having a double board certified cosmetic dermatologic surgeon, a double board certified facial plastic surgeon, and a double board certified cosmetic plastic surgeon. Dr. Lack is also the Past President of The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.


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