As recently reported in the June edition of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal, stem cells derived from fat possess many qualities that may be potentially beneficial when used in soft tissue augmentation. However, clinical research studies are in progress and the safety and treatment recommendations have yet to be elucidated. To date, most studies evaluating the use of adipose-derived stem cells have been performed in Europe and Korea, with only 3 studies in the US because of stringent FDA regulations.
Fat contains stem cells and the fat removed during liposuction may be used for autologous fat injections or structural fat grafting to augment soft tissue or correct depressions. Laboratory treatment of the fat may yield a more purified form of stem cell extract. Stem cells have proven anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, have an effect on the immune system, and have also been shown to stimulate new vessel growth and hence increase blood flow. These attributes may have positive roles in wound healing, tissue augmentation and regenerative medecine but clinical studies have yet to be performed to determine their application in human beings. Although previous research has evaluated the use of stem cells in breast augmentation and to correct lipoatrophy, further studies need to be conducted to define their precise role in plastic surgery. Questions remain as to the method of isolation and purification of stem cells, as well as to their potential effect on tumor growth. Issues such as type and number of stem cells used and number of treatments indicated remain to be answered with further clinical trials.
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