You may have heard the term “stem cell facelift,” thought of embryonic cord blood, and maybe even imagined newborn skin. While the idea of using stem cells for rejuvenation sounds great, it may in fact be little more than a non-surgical volumizing and wrinkle-filling technique, perhaps more of a marketing ploy than a scientifically- based treatment.
Fillers like Restylane, Perlane, Juvéderm, etc., have been clinically proven and FDA-approved to rejuvenate the aging face by restoring lost volume and by eliminating superficial and even deep wrinkles. But, similar data for facial stem cell injections is lacking, as is FDA approval. Here’s what you need to know to make an educated choice for facial rejuvenation.
First, what are stem cells? Stem cells are immature, undifferentiated but still omnipotent cells that have the ability to transform into skin, blood, muscle, cartilage, and/or bone. These cells can be used to treat diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, and heart disease. Typically, to harvest adult stem cells, an injection of intravenous medicine may need to precede the harvesting, in order to stimulate the bone marrow to release stem cells into your blood. Blood can then be taken and store for later use.
Theoretically, stem cells have other uses. Since stem cells live in fat, some doctors have harvested fat and reinjected it as a “stem cell facelift” when they are merely providing fat as a filler via fat injection. For a true stem cell injection, stem cells must be added to those stem cells that already live in fat via a special technique. Even if your doctor does this, you may have little more than an expensive volumizing effect, made from your own body’s materials. Anecdotal reports of anti-aging from this technique have not yet been proven. But, not to worry, all good inventions are first met with speculation and even dismissal. Advancing science can truly be amazing—whoever thought a man would be able to walk on the moon?
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