Las Vegas Plastic Surgery
As a board certifed plastic surgeon in Las Vegas, I often receive questions from patients about transferring fat from one area of the body to the other for aesthetic purposes. While this can be very effective in certain cases, as a physican I always need to evalauate if this procedure is ideal for each patient on an individual basis.
Recently, many questions have been coming in about the “stem cells” found in fat and what added benefits that might give in an aesthetic body fat transer procedure. Some of these stem cell questions are being driven by direct to consumer marketing from machine operated fat harvesting systems and physicians who are touting the procedure.
There are several issues and questions that surround stem cells in fat that still need to be addressed and answered with the support of medical research. One of the major questions asks if fat is even a good place to harvest stem cells. Another issue is once these fat based “stem cells” are placed in body tissue, what exactly do they do?
Currently there are only a few stringent peer-reviewed scientific studies on stem cells in body fat. The most recent thinking was recently compiled into a joint statement from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, (ASPS), and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, (ASAPS). Ultimately, they concluded that “stem cells in aesthetic surgery is promising, but marketing claims are too far ahead of the science.”
Below are some of the major points the organizations released in their joint statement:
Terms such as “stem cell therapy” or “stem cell procedure” should be reserved to describe those treatments or techniques where the collection, concentration, manipulation, and therapeutic action of the stem cells is the primary goal, rather than a passive result, of the treatment. For example, 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.
The marketing and promotion of stem cell procedures in aesthetic surgery is not adequately supported by clinical evidence at this time.
While stem cell therapies have the potential to be beneficial for a variety of medical applications, a substantial body of clinical data to assess plastic surgery applications still needs to be collected. 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.
The collection and reporting of data on outcomes and safety by any physician performing stem cell therapies is strongly encouraged in order to advance the knowledge and science of stem cells.
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.
Patients are advised to seek consultation for aesthetic procedures by a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. These physicians are able to properly evaluate a patient’s concerns and offer a wide range of safe solutions. Extreme caution should be exercised when a physician is promising results from any treatment that sound too good to be true.
Please be aware of the unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness of fat derived “stem cells” and plastic surgery procedures. If you or a loved one is considering a cosmetic procedure, the first step should always be to meet with a recognized, board certified plastic surgeon and tell him or her about your goals. They will examine you and help you decide what procedures are avaialble for you and which one offers the best possibility to achieve your goals.
Jeffrey J. Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S.