If you’ve scanned the tabloids in the past year, you may have noticed a puffy-faced Suzanne Somers, whom the National Enquirer claims had a stem cell facelift last February.
Another procedure called the “vampire” facelift (so called because you use your own blood to stay “forever young”) is surely capitalizing on the current pop-culture vampire craze.
What are these creepy-sounding, celeb-infused cosmetic procedures?
Neither is a facelift in the traditional sense, although both are sometimes paired with one. Instead, they involve injecting what some cosmetic surgeons say are wrinkle-busting components from your own body into your face. But, YouBeauty finds that the science and legalities are murky.
Hope in a Syringe
Stem cell facelifts use adult stem cells (ASCs), which differ from the embryonic stem cells (ESCs) at the heart of most ethical stem cell debates in that they come from different sources and have different properties. Unlike ESCs, which come from embryos and can morph into nearly any type of cell in the body, ASCs reside throughout certain tissues in a developed body and can only make a limited number of cell types. Adipose tissue, or fat, is a rich source of ASCs.
In a stem cell facelift, cosmetic surgeons take a person’s fat—possibly obtained through liposuction or breast reduction surgery—and run it through a machine or filter to separate the stem cells from the fat tissue. This super-concentrated mixture of stem cells, which secrete proteins called growth factors that boost cell growth and help cells talk to each other, are then injected into wrinkles or hollowed-out areas on the face either after a traditional facelift or as a stand-alone procedure.
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