Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stem Cells and Fat Grafting - Word from Dr. Brueck, MD

Dr. Robert J. Brueck MD FACS frequently contributes articles and thoughts about plastic and cosmetic surgery, skin care and general health. He also maintains a Web site at


One of the exciting aspects about plastic surgery is the never-ending cascade of new technologies and therapies. One topic is appearing more and more in the plastic surgery literature and in the headlines around the country.

This has to do with the concept of fat grafting and the more recent ideas of stem cells.

It is important to understand that these stem cells are NOT embryonic but stem cells found in one’s own fatty tissue. Just when you thought there was no use for your extra love handles.

For the last several years I have found myself doing more and more fat grafting when I do a facelift. I find that replacing the depleted soft tissue of the face at the same time of lifting enhances the end result and gives a more youthful appearance.

The areas we mostly address are the areas just under the cheek bones, around the corners of the mouth and the nasolabial fold areas or the "smile lines".

When we do fat grafting, we perform liposuction on the abdomen or the thigh and use this area as a donor site. We then spin the fat down and mix it with PRP (protein rich plasma) and some growth hormone. This “filler” cocktail is very successful in restoring volume to an aging face.

What is PRP?

This is derived from a patient’s own blood. We draw off 30 to 50 cc or sometimes more depending upon the need, spin the blood down and take what we call the Buffy coat/which is in the middle.

This contains essential growth factors that enhance the survival of the transplanted fat. By spinning the fat down you can concentrate the number of stem cells present in the fat. What is interesting is that the number of stem cells in our body fat remains fairly constant throughout our life span whereas stem cells found in our bone marrow will diminish as we age.

This advantage of fat is obvious; it’s your own tissue and lasts, unlike fillers that fade away with time. So this will be a new and exciting area to explore and do research on. Many more questions need to be answered.

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