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Dallas doctor uses stem cell injections in cosmetic surgery

SHELLY SLATER / WFAA, March 1, 2010


Dr. Jeffrey Caruth, a Texas OBGYN who is performs cosmetic surgery has started using adult stem cells to increase the effectiveness of "fat grafting".  The use of fat as a filler has been used in plastic surgery for decades.  The only problem has been that as time passes, the fat gets resorbed by the body.  A publication from Japan (Yoshimura et al. Cell-assisted lipotransfer for facial lipoatrophy: efficacy of clinical use of adipose-derived stem cells. Dermatol Surg. 2008 Sep;34(9):1178-85) demonstrated that if fat stem cells are mixed in with the fat, the rate of resorption is markedly diminished.  Given that the cells administered are the same cells of the body, the possibility of immunological reaction is absent. 

 Jackie Jones is the second patient in North Texas to undergo this type of cosmetic surgery.  "I will be happy to see the lines on my face go away," she said. "I will be happy with the new shape of my body and that in itself is really exciting to me."

Dr. Caruth said stem cells help solve a problem that has plagued prior procedures. "The problem has been with traditional fat grafting that you put a volume of fat into the face, the buttocks and then in a month or two or three there is significant volume loss due to death of the fat cells you put in,"  he continued "You're going to get twice the graft survival versus other methods," Caruth said.

 It is known that conventional artificial filler injections usually last up to a year and regular fat grafting lasts anywhere between three to five years.  It is anticipated that addition of stem cells will allow the grafts to maintain shape for up to 10 years.

 Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, the vice chairman of plastic surgery with UT Southwestern, stated "There is a tremendous amount of excitement about stem cells," he said. "We just don't have a lot of information about them, about how they work and how we control them to do what we want them to do."

 After the procedure Jones commented "I can really tell a difference. The lines between my eyebrows are gone."

Human fat contains not only stem cells but other cells such as T regulatory cells that control inflammation.  Given that inflammation is associated with aging, there may be several mechanisms at play responsible for the effects seen by addition of fat stem cells to fat grafts.  An example of fat stem cells exerting therapeutic effects can be seen in multiple sclerosis as reported in this publication

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