Major Plastic Surgery Societies Commend Los Angeles Times’ Balanced Reporting of Controversial “Stem Cell Face Lifts”

Organization leads multidisciplinary group to bring Evidence-Based Medicine to Plastic Surgery Procedures and Devices

New York, NY & Arlington Heights, IL (September 24, 2010)The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) laud the Los Angeles Times for its balanced reporting on a controversial cosmetic procedure, the so-called “stem cell face lift.” Stem cell face lifts and other similar procedures and devices lacking anything more than anecdotal scientific evidence are a major focus of the medical organizations as the growing trend of marketing trumping science proliferates in the plastic surgery field. 

In the September 13, 2010 special to the Los Angeles Times, called “Stem Cell Face-Lifts on Unproven Ground,” reporter Chris Woolston writes about the demand for cosmetic procedures that use stem cells to rejuvenate the face, a so-called “stem cell face lift.”  Retrieved through liposuction, the stem cells, along with fat cells, are injected into the face. Woolston notes the lack of scientific evidence at this time to support the claims made by those currently marketing these procedures, such as the claim that the injected stem cells rejuvenate the skin with new collagen and blood vessels.

“Although stem cells certainly have potential for use in the cosmetic surgery field, some of the claims being made about the procedures that are currently being marketed as ‘stem cell face lifts’ seem far-fetched. We simply don’t know enough about the safety and efficacy of these procedures. One of the major unanswered questions is whether the stem cells actually contribute to any of the positive effects that might be observed, or whether we are simply seeing the effects of injecting fat cells into the face, which can give the face a younger look” said Jeffery Kenkel, MD, Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and President-Elect of ASAPS.

"Stem cells have incredible potential. But nobody knows exactly what they can do. So they're marketed to do everything.  In time, maybe a decade from now, science will tell the real story, but until then, marketing regarding stem cell face lifts should be considered fiction," said Michael McGuire, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and a clinical associate professor of surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles.  

“Procedures with no solid science behind them, stem cells included, give unproven hope to patients and the marketing of them brings dishonor to our entire specialty,” said Felmont Eaves, III, MD of Charlotte, NC, President of ASAPS.  The Aesthetic Society is working together with the other core societies to address this through an evidence based medicine program that will rate any procedure or device on the legitimacy of the scientific evidence behind it.  This program is in its development stage and will be available to the public within the next 12 months”.

“The use of ‘stem cells’ in advertising for cosmetic surgical applications is a global problem," says Doug Sipp, Head of the Science Policy and Ethics Study Unit at the Center for Developmental Biology of RIKEN in Kobe, Japan, who monitors supposed stem cell treatment claims worldwide in all different specialties.  "There have been many cosmetics, nutraceuticals, and device makers who claim either to use stem cells in their products, or to use ingredients that activate the customer’s own stem cells. To the best of my knowledge, none of these has a basis in scientific evidence."

The Aesthetic Society and ASPS recommend that patients considering facial rejuvenation procedures avoid “stem cell face lifts” or other fad procedures that have not been demonstrated to be effective in clinical trials. Current facial rejuvenation procedures that are supported by clinical evidence are described in the “Procedure Facts” section of ASAPS’s website, www.surgery.org, and include surgical face lifts, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and various injectables.  Information is also available in the Procedures section of the ASPS website, www.plasticsurgery.org

 About ASAPS
The over 2,600-member American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is the only plastic surgery organization devoted entirely to the advancement of cosmetic surgery. ASAPS is recognized throughout the world as the authoritative source for cosmetic surgery education. U.S. members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Canadian members are certified in plastic surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Toll-free referral line: 888.ASAPS.11 (272.7711). Website: www.surgery.org.

About ASPS
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 7,000 physician members, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. The ASPS comprises more than 90 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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