What Is a Stem Cell Face Lift?

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins
Stem cells and the types of cells they could become.
Stem cells and the types of cells they could become.

A number of cosmetic surgeries have been devised by modern medicine to lift the face and reduce wrinkles in an effort to hold back the hands of time. Until the turn of the 21st century, these procedures were typically invasive and often left visible scars. A stem cell face lift was devised in 2006, however, that involves extracting stem-cell-rich fat tissue from the abdomen, combining it with a stem cell growth factor, and injecting it into areas of the face in a manner similar to other common facial fillers like Botox® or Juvederm®. This non-invasive treatment also has proven to reduce skin blemishes and adult-onset acne, which strikes four women for every one man.

A stem-cell face lift can reduce adult-onset acne.
A stem-cell face lift can reduce adult-onset acne.

The stem cell face lift was devised by New Jersey cosmetic surgeon Vincent Giampapa, a professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, who also serves as director for the Plastic Surgery Center Internationalé. Giampapa first unveiled this technique at the Paris conference of the World Academy of Anti-Aging and Cosmetic Medicine. Since then, it has gained worldwide acceptance.

This procedure hinges on the use of a person's own stem cells — malleable cellular structures that can be coaxed into performing other duties. Liposuction is performed at the waistline, and the stem cells are extracted from the adipose tissue. By mixing these isolated stem cells with so-called growth factor, even more stem cells are born. These are then remixed with the patient's fat and injected at sites around the face for a stem cell face lift that reportedly fills out the face, reduces wrinkles, and improves skin tone.

Since the recipient of the stem cells is also the donor, the possibility for tissue rejection is moot for recipients of a stem cell face lift. Though as of 2011 further study appears to be needed to quantify the claims made about this type of procedure, many plastic surgeons agree that it is a marked improvement from other filler procedures. These inject artificial materials made of hyaluronic acid, with names like Jevederm® or Restylane® — each with the potential for inducing an allergic reaction. Further, this new procedure is the only one with allegedly constructive properties, able to generate new tissue while forming to the body naturally.

Not all physicians offer the stem cell face lift in 2011, despite mounting anecdotal and photographic evidence of its effectiveness. Due to this, many patients still opt for an invasive procedure. For the forehead and mid-face, small incisions can be hidden behind the hairline, with an endoscopic camera and thin probes inserted to do the work. When full endoscopic face lifts are undertaken, however, cuts are likely needed in more conspicuous locations, such as under the chin or around the ears.

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Discussion Comments


@talentryto- My aunt had a stem cell face lift last year. Though she likes the way her face looks, so doesn't think that the results are as dramatic as she had hoped that they would be. She wasn't a candidate for surgery though, so she is satisfied that the outcome is the best she could achieve.

Since a stem cell face lift doesn't include a lot of cutting, an operating room, or major medications, it is much less costly than a traditional face lift. However, since the procedure is relatively new and few doctors are offering it, the costs can still be high. You mother should expect to spend at least several thousand dollars, depending on where she lives, how many doctors in her area perform the procedure, and how experienced they are in the field.

Your mother should also keep in mind that if she has a lot of loose skin and deep wrinkles, a stem cell face lift most likely will not give her the results she would like. If this is the case for her, she will most likely get her money's worth and more favorable results from a traditional face lift procedure.


@talentryto- I have a friend who had a stem cell face lift, and she is happy with the results. The cost is significant, but not as high as it would be for a traditional face lift that also involves the costs of an operating room and anesthesia. Each provider's costs will vary, so it is important that your mother shop around to get the best surgeon for the most affordable price available.

Some doctors also refer to this procedure as facial fat grafting, so keep that in mind when you help your mother in her search for a cosmetic surgeon who performs this procedure.


My mother is considering having a face lift, so I am going to share this article with her. I would much rather her have a stem cell face lift than undergo invasive cosmetic surgery, but she also has to keep her budget in mind. Does anyone know if a stem cell face lift is expensive, and is it also worth the cost?

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    • Stem cells and the types of cells they could become.
      Stem cells and the types of cells they could become.
    • A stem-cell face lift can reduce adult-onset acne.
      A stem-cell face lift can reduce adult-onset acne.