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 SyringeStem 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.MORE: All You Need to Know About Stem Cell SkincareIn 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.According to Renato Calabria, M.D., F.A.C.S., a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills who has performed about 50 of the procedures to date, the growth factors boost collagen growth, which plumps the face, and help build new blood vessels, which support the new tissue. Calabria uses a fat grafting system called PureGraft from Cytori, a company that develops ASC therapy technologies. The procedure costs between $5,000 and $10,000.Platelet-enriched treatments (many doctors are against the gimmicky term “vampire facial”) follow a similar process, but instead of fat, they use blood. And, instead of stem cells, the procedure targets blood components called platelets, which are rich in the growth factors the help cells grow. The claim here is similar. The platelet rich fibrin matrix, a mix of platelets and plasma from the blood, also boosts collagen and blood vessel growth, says Anthony Sclafani, M.D, F.A.C.S., Director of Facial Plastic Surgery at the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary. Sclafani has performed 250 treatments to date using a product called Selphyl to separate the platelets and plasma. The procedure costs between $1,000 and $2,500.QUIZ: How Healthy is Your Skin?FDA UnapprovedFor now, the use of the Cytori and Selphyl products for facelifts is off-label—neither are approved or cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use on the face. While the FDA has approved the machines and filters that separate blood and fat, the uses are extremely limited.  Cytori’s system is approved for body contouring, but not for the facelifts. Furthermore, the FDA currently has not approved any stem cell therapies in the U.S., although Cytori doesn’t explicitly state that PureGraft utilizes stem cells. Selphyl’s technology is approved for use only in orthopedic surgeries to help heal bone grafts.An FDA spokesperson wouldn’t comment directly on the use of the devices for cosmetic purposes, but did say that “due to the complex nature of human cells, tissues and cellular and tissue based products, many need to be evaluated individually to determine how they are to be regulated.”It isn’t clear how the regulation is proceeding, though. In August, for example, Aesthetic Factors, LLC (the company that markets Selphyl) received a letter from the FDA citing violations of its advertised off-label use in cosmetic procedures, yet off-label procedures can proceed.Glorified Fillers?Both “facelifts” claim to plump the face and smooth out wrinkles. But, the results may have nothing to do with the stem cells or platelets.While some of the biology is okay in theory—growth factors can indeed boost cell growth and blood flow, and researchers are working on valid ASC therapies to treat a myriad of diseases—objective peer-reviewed research on stem cell and vampire facelifts is non-existent. Also at issue is the use of growth factors, which may pose a cancer risk to certain patients.MORE: The full story on potential hazards of growth factors in skincareMost likely, the materials used in both “facelifts” simply act as fillers, says June Wu, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, referring to approved materials (Juvederm and Restylane are two commonly-used brands) that are injected into wrinkles to temporarily smooth them.“I could inject saline into you and fill you up and make you look good for a moment until the saline gets reabsorbed,” adds Wu, “If you inject fat, eventually over the course of a year, for most people, they reabsorb it. I have seen no proof yet that [the facelifts are] in any way different than how other fillers are being used now.Interestingly, the FDA did just approve a new filler called LaViv, which involves complicated technology for creating collagen from the patient’s own cells, which can then be injected into wrinkles.However the jury is still out on whether or not this expensive process is superior to good ol’ fillers that are already on the market.MORE: Arthur Perry, M.D., F.A.C.S. explains LaViv