We are now in the era of "lift or fill?" and unfortunately due to YouTube® and media buzz, the public is often mislead into thinking that both are the same thing.
Over two years ago, Maven (a dear friend of mine and a plastic surgeon) called me up and said she was going to have a "stem cell face lift" and quoted a substantial fee she would be paying for the treatment.
I was alarmed. Since I have been following stem cell research for 20 years, I called a couple of my top plastic surgeon friends – including world famous Dr. Henry Kawamoto, UCLA Plastic Surgery Guru – and asked what they thought about the procedure. Dr. Kawamoto chuckled and said it was semi-bogus, but a buddy of his in Japan was doing it and "making plenty of Yen!"
Further digging brought to light that the procedure was nothing more than adipose fat transfer. This is a surgery I highly approve of, because there is no better filler than your own fat and some of it is permanent when injected properly.
The "stem cell" part was the bogus area; the claim being made that certain nutrients are added to the fat that stimulate the stem cells in your face to act and become younger – thereby lifting the skin.
In actual fact, adding fat volume to hollows in the face will make you look younger – but the stem cell additives are not working.
This stem cell passion has now made its way into skin care products. I have written several articles warning of this a few years ago when I suspected that companies would seize on this "play on words;" taking advantage of a popular issue – brought to light during the Bush administration – leading people to believe creams and lotions contained plant stem cells. Technically, a company can get away with making this claim on their product label if it is formulated using crushed up "steams" from plants and flowers. Despite the fact that it is usually the roots, berries or leaves of plants that contain useful, botanical actives (aside from aloe vera).
As a result, companies have gotten away with it so successfully that now many companies are going several steps further – the old "give an inch and take a mile" syndrome.
Eventually the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Union (EU) will crack down, but there are years of slow administrative grinding with these government departments and a lot of money to be made in the interim!
Facts About Stem Cells
When wondering how plant stem cells in a cream work with your own stem cells there are certain facts that should be considered.
First of all, lab chemists extract plant tissue and then scratch the cultured tissue to inflict a tiny wound. This would stimulate the plant's stem cell to induce the formation of new cells on the wounded surface. After a very slow replication and division on the outside of the scratched plant surface, the new cells create a large body of colorless cells, known as a callus.
The cells making up the callus have been divided into cells that do not carry the specific features or information of the actual plant cells. It is this that is put into skin creams.
Plant stem cells are not leaders, they are followers and the downstream differentiated plant cells are the only ones that have the biochemical ability required to produce the many known substances derived from plants that do have active botanical and therapeutic abilities (e.g. digitalis, quinine, aloe vera, et cetera).
Plant totipotential stem cells do not produce anything capable of affecting other cells of the plant itself – never mind being any good for influencing the actual behavior of human skin cells!
It is a shame that an incredible science researching human stem cells that will one day save the world from a lot of misery including the indignities of age is banded about in this manner. Human stem cell therapy, despite the face lift claims, still has a way to go before it becomes mainstream. And even now, specific human stem cells have to be surgically implanted at the organ site to initiate even short term remedial effects.
Stem Cell Trends
The latest trend of the stem cell face lift shifted quickly away from the Stem Cell Face Lift and became the Vampire Face Lift. How did this transition occur?
It all came out of a very good product called Selphyl. Much the same as BOTOX®, before it was approved for cosmetic use, Selphyl is FDA approved for use in orthopedic surgery. Then, a Doctor Runels, who had been using Selphyl in conjunction with Juviderm Filler, began to brand his procedures online as The Vampire Face Lift – due to the platelet-rich fibrin matrix involved in Selphyl, and a great deal of good clinical data behind it.
As a result, this has led to a plethora of other "vampire" procedures. Unfortunately, there is nothing illegal about this misrepresentation. The only course of action that can be taken is to complain about the ethics of misleading the public!
Like the Stem Cell Face Lift and your own fat, the Vampire Lift is similar. It involves injections of hyaluronic acid fillers followed by platelet-rich plasma (PRP). It is not a "face lift" but a filler! The process that is actually occurring is the filling of volume with a filler. This is an increasingly standard and non-permanent procedure which is quite effective if done with the aesthetic mathematics of balance and facial topography – then filling around the hyaluronic based filler with PRP. The color, tone and texture of the skin are improved, but it takes eight to 10 weeks to see a real difference. Lifts – LIFT … fillers – FILL!
In my experience, a therapists or physician practicing good skin revision treatments cannot only achieve results like this in 10 days, but can also offer a sort of permanence with ongoing professional and home maintenance. This however, takes many different types of skin procedures and a commitment on behalf of both the practitioner and the client, who vigilantly follows their home prescriptive.
We are in the era of the exo-skeleton where loss of fat and volume from age, HIV positive, or rapid weight loss ages people. Lifting the skin is basically cutting away excess tissue with no elasticity left and restructuring some muscle placement. This alone does not give the youthful appearance of turgidity and bounce that the volume of fat does.
But neither lifting the skin nor filling it out with injectables or good implants, can give us "new skin." Only our body can do this – and it is perfectly willing to do so if given the right shove or kick start.
All we see on faces in the way of lines, hyperpigmentation, sags and scaling are just defense mechanisms of the skin being asked to perform as "guards" against free radical and solar attack for years. The skin on our buttocks tells our true age – usually appearing to be 10 or 20 years younger than the face, neck, backs of hands, or any other part of the body that has been hanging out in the atmosphere.
Professional skin revision can reverse this damage, bringing the skin back to the way it wants to be. By removing the dead and dying cells, offering the living and newer cells chemistry that they recognize, the skin is protected from further damage and maintaining it for a lifetime. Which is why, despite all of the current trends in aesthetic medicine and surgery, aestheticians still have a job!
Knowledge is power.
Danné Montague-King is a worldwide leader in the field of skin rejuvenation. He was one of the first biochemists to recognize the power of enzymes to hydrate and tighten the skin and the benefit of vitamin C therapy for collagen in human skin. Danné is a tireless educator who annually travels throughout the world conducting lectures and training for professionals and consumers. As a journalist, Danné is a regular contributor to many of the world's most important professional journals including: Australian Beauty, Beauty New Zealand, DERMASCOPE Magazine, Health & Beauty, Irish Beauty, Les Nouvelles Esthetique, Professional Beauty, and Shjkonnet og Helse. www.dannemking.com