Published July 27, 2010
Working in sales means dealing face-to-face with clients. So when Larry Webb looked in the mirror and noticed he looked "gaunt" due to aging, he began to feel inhibited in his career.
“I didn’t want people looking at my cheeks, but to look at my eyes,” Webb, 65, said.
So in an effort to gain a more youthful appearance, the Dallas man underwent Cell Enriched Cosmetic Surgery, an experimental procedure that transfers a combination of fat cells containing stem cells to other areas of the body .
The procedure was performed by Dr. Jeffrey Caruth, medical director of Plano Aesthetics in Plano, Texas, about three months ago, and it gave Webb more volume in his face to reverse the “aging and deterioration of muscle tissue in the cheeks,” Webb said.
The procedure is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but Caruth estimates it will be within six months. Stem cell fat transfers have been approved and performed in Europe for years, he said.
Cell Enriched Cosmetic Surgery, which Caruth began performing in March, involves removing fat cells from one or multiple parts of the body, treating the fat cells to multiply the amount of stem cells within them, and then transferring those stem cell-rich fat cells to the breasts, face, or other areas of the body to provide more volume and a longer-lasting result, Caruth told FoxNews.com.
Multiplying the stem cells by thousands, Caruth said, allows for a better survival rate of the transported fat cells in addition to helping “in the anti-aging process because the stem cells will promote better tissue regeneration and tissue healing.”
But some plastic surgeons are wary of the effectiveness of stem cells in these procedures and say not enough research has been done to prove their benefit in cosmetic surgery.
Dr. William Adams Jr., who practices in Dallas, said there is a lack of research in this area to prove that stem cells add any benefit to the regular fat transfer procedures, which plastic surgeons have been using for years.
“Although stem cell things is the sexy thing to talk about right now … the reality is that the science right now hasn’t necessarily shown that it’s any better than the standard technique,” Adams said.
In Webb’s case, Caruth removed fat cells from the abdomen and transferred them to his face. Webb said that appealed to him because it used something natural from his own body.
He said he has had no complications and would recommend the procedure “definitely for people that need it not only for their job, maybe possibly if they’re in sales, or for themselves and want to look the best they can.”
Advantages of the stem cell fat transfer procedure over other types of cosmetic surgeries on the market are the ability to use more volume of the fat cells than the popular, more expensive synthetic fillers like Resilin, and the longevity of the procedure – about five to 10 years, according to Caruth, who has performed about 20 to 25 of these autologous stem cell fat transfers.
And compared to other plastic surgeries, Caruth said, the stem cell fat transfers are much less invasive, as they are done using local anesthesia either through an outpatient procedure or right in the office.
But for a procedure that hasn’t been fully proven to be effective, Adams said the cost of these stem cell fat transfers is relatively expensive – about $3,000 more than standard fat transfer procedures. A face lift that uses the stem cell fat transfer costs about $6,500, while breast augmentation costs an average of $15,000, Caruth said.