Stem Cell facelift: Does it work? - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Stem Cell facelift: Does it work?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Doctors and researchers have long said that stem cell therapy has the potential to change the face of human disease. But what if stem cells could be used to reverse the aging process as well?

Plastic surgeons say they can use stem cells to make women look years younger without the pain of an invasive surgery.

"I lost weight, loss of volume in face, I looked gaunt and I said, so I said, 'okay what do we do to fix this?'" said Sarah, a patient.

The fix for this was a stem-cell face lift. Dr. Steve Szczerba of Chicago Aesthetic Surgery Institute recommended that Sarah undergo a procedure, where he'd use her own adult stem cells to turn back the clock.

"A stem cell facelift is rejuvenating the face using grafted fat. Grafted fat has stem cells in it," Dr. Szczerba explains.

Grafted fat is transferred fat. Dr. Szczerba typically gets it from the patient's abdomen or inner thigh during liposuction.

"During that process of liposuction, we save the fat and take the fat and prepare it for grafting by removing the fluid. And the stem cells along with other grafted fat cells are injected into the face," says Dr. Szczerba.

He says it's not simply a fat transfer. Dr. Szcerba believes the stem cells, which are specialized cells that self renew, are actually working to make collagen and rejuvenate the skin.

"You can actually see the surface of the skin change," says the doctor. "Similar to that a chemical peel or a laser peel accomplishes in order to see change in your cheek area."

And Sarah who got her stem cell facelift a few months ago, says her skin has improved over time.

"It's been smoother, as I said," said Sarah. "I was looking for rejuvenation and I found it"

Dr. Robert Lavker is a stem cell biologist at Northwestern Medical. He says a stem cell facelift could be theoretically possible, but there are no studies to prove it.

"I would say if it sounds too good to be true it's probably not. There's no proof that you've actually put in stem cells, that they're behaving like stem cells, that they're making a variety of different cell types and that it's long lasting, no threes no proof," a stem cell biologist told FOX Chicago News. "There may be a couple stem cells in there, but overall I think its being hyped a little too much."

Dr. Lavker believes some stem cells are being harvested then injected, but overall, it's the fat that is simply acting as a filler.

But after having undergone the procedure, Sarah is a believer.

"I was delighted, delighted with the results!" Sarah said.

Sarah experienced minimal pain and swelling for a few days after stem cell facelift. The stem-cell facelift is often used in conjunction with a traditional facelift for optimal results.

Dr. Lavker says there is a big future in stem cell usage in medicine and aesthetic surgery but we are just not there yet.

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