Any doctor advertising stem cells for cosmetic surgery is basically selling snake oil right now. And ballyhooed fat-based breast enhancements pose a cancer risk. On the other hand, plastic surgeons can now bubble away a belt loop worth of waist fat with ultrasound or will soon be freezing away forehead folds without Botox.

These are just a few of the “hot topics” emerging in the field discussed by a panel of top practitioners at the annual American Society of Plastic Surgeons convention in Toronto last week.

The overarching message for anyone looking to improve their appearance through cutting-edge cosmetic techniques was “buyer beware.” That is especially the case for stem cell procedures now being pumped on the internet as a fountain of youth for faces and other body bits.

“Be cautious of any doctor who is promoting these procedures,” California plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD, FACS, says of stem cell cosmetics. “This is a marketing term and I can tell you at this point it’s a marketing scam.”

Peter Rubin, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, says there remains no clinical data to show that stem cells can regenerate a youthful facial appearance. Indeed, he says, there is no known plastic surgical procedure for even extracting and isolating them for such use. “This is an area where I’d urge our (patients) to exercise great caution when confronted with promises,” he says.

The thinking that stem cells can release growth factors to heal wounds, radiation scars or plump up facial volume has simply not been proven yet, he says. “If somebody is promoting that, I wouldn’t do it,” says Singer. “And I certainly wouldn’t allow a family member of mine to do that at this point.”

The panel also heard that a newly touted technique of using fat injections for breast enlargement may increase the risk of cancer. Fat cells release a hormone called leptin that can promote the growth of breast cancer cells, especially those that are estrogen dependent, says V. Leroy Young, MD, FACS, a St Louis-based surgeon.

On the other hand, new techniques for “non-invasive” liposuction have been showing promise, especially in ridding midriffs of those last stubborn inches of fat, the panel heard.


[Source: Toronto Star]