stem cell face-lifts performed by Dr. Dhai Barr shown here in Oregon Regenerative Medicine's laboratory

by Dr. Dhai Barr

Stem cell face-lifts are rapidly gaining acceptance. For over 10 years we have used the tissue derived growth factors in our Collagen Induction with PRP to rejuvenate aging skin.  Now stem cells are also showing excellent results in both non-surgical face-lifts and hair regeneration.

What is a stem cell face-lift?

The stem cell face-lift is a completely non-surgical procedure. Dr. Barr expertly injects your own stem-cell rich lipoaspirate (adipose) into the skin to volumize areas of collagen loss, and to eliminate wrinkles.  The procedure requires no surgical cutting, lifting, or sewing of skin. This is known as a non-invasive face-lift because the procedure involves only injections. Compared to surgical face-lifts, recovery is very rapid, and mild to moderate bruising lasts for only a few days.

What are stem cells?

Our non-surgical stem cell face-lift uses a type of adipose-derived immature cell that is capable of differentiating into various tissues and cells necessary for healthy skin. These stem cells also secrete powerful growth factors, including exosomes and other compounds that help to stimulate and regulate tissue repair.

Four main characteristics of stem cells

Stem cells ….

  1. Proliferate and regenerate healthy tissues;
  2. Develop into multiple cell types that rejuvenate the structure of our skin; 
  3. Release growth factors, exosomes and immune regulators that enhance healing;
  4. Mobilize during angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels), improving circulation to aging skin.

four main characteristics of stem cells used in stem cell face-lifts

Sources of stem cells

Autologous stem cells are in adipose tissue and bone marrow harvested from your own body. Allogenic (donor) stem cell tissues are extracted from donor umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid and Wharton’s jelly.

  • Adipose stem cells are most commonly used in stem cell face-lifts and other aesthetic procedures due to the ease of accessibility and the relative abundance. The mesenchymal stem cells found in adipose tissue are capable of differentiating into skin, nerves, fat, muscle, cartilage, blood vessels and bone. They are a rich source of exosomes and growth factors.
  • Umbilical cord and amniotic fluid tissues are harvested from live birth donors. These are not fetal stem cells, but rather are extracted from birth products that would normally be discarded.  Depending on the source of donor tissue, they can provide a significant dose of cellular growth factors. 
  • Bone marrow stem cells are fewer in number and therefore secrete fewer growth factors when compared to adipose cells. They are not used as often in aesthetic medicine because of the large amount of bone marrow required for treatment.

Why use your own stem cells?

In skin regeneration, the primary role of stem cells and their secreted growth factors is to promote fibroblast proliferation and collagen synthesis.  The potential for collagen generation is one reason that stem cell face-lifts are so effective at rejuvenating the structure of our skin.  Studies have validated this potential by showing that injecting these growth factors stimulates type I and type III collagen as well as elastin in the skin. For over 10 years we have seen remarkable results using  collagen induction therapy with PRP.

What is a fat graft?

Adipose stem cell treatments are referred to as live fat grafting. The first live fat graft occurred in 1893 to fill a soft tissue defect. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that autologous fat grafts began being used to combat signs of facial aging by filling in volume loss, deep wrinkles and folds. When combined with PRP, the adipose (fat) tissue graft tends to stay active for several years as it creates new collagen and blood vessels in the areas being treated. It makes perfect sense that fat grafts would be effective in aesthetic medicine, as the use of fat grafts for osteoarthritis and in orthopedics has been well supported in the scientific literature and in our own patient outcome studies

aesthetic stem cells can be used to stimulate hair regrowth

A cure for baldness?

We have used PRP for stimulating hair growth  and combating hair loss for over 7 years. Although somewhat newer, the application of stem cell injections to regenerate hair has now been confirmed in the scientific literature. The majority of hair restoration studies have looked at either Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) alone or in combination with stem cells. 

Are stem cell face-lifts the new standard of care?

It is very likely that stem cell face-lifts will become the standard of practice in aesthetic medicine.  We have seen though our own clinical evidence that both stem cell face-lifts and PRP collagen induction therapy can reverse aging of the skin. We rely on PRP to reverse hair loss, and PRP can be an effective alternative to cosmetic surgery. We know that stem cells assist with wound healing and revascularization, cosmetically volumize facial areas in the form of a fat transfer, increase collagen and elasticity in skin, and regenerate hair follicles. Now is the time to reverse aging skin and hair loss without surgery. The future of stem cell face-lifts is skin-tight.

References

  1. Chen M, Przyborowski M, Berthiaume F, Stem cells for skin tissue engineering and wound healing. Crit Rev Biomed Eng. 2009; 37(4-5): 399-421.
  2. Zhang J, Guan J, Niu X, Hu G, Guo S, Li Q, Xie Z, Zhang C, Wang Y, Exosomes released from human induced pluripotent stem cells-derived MSCs facilitate cutaneous wound healing by promoting collagen synthesis and angiogenesis. J Transl Med. 2015 Feb 1; 13:49. doi: 10.1186/s12967-015-0417-0. 
  3. Author: Thomas J Gampper, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Mark S Granick, MD, FACS,  Facial Fat Grafting Medscape, Updated: May 06, 2019 
  4. Semsarzadeh N, Khetarpal S. Platelet-Rich Plasma and Stem Cells for Hair Growth: A Review of the Literature. Aesthet Surg J. 2019 May 20. [Epub ahead of print] pii: sjz146. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjz146.