Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fat To The Future: Is Fat The Future of Plastic Surgery?

Fat Stem Cells Could Make Current Plastic Surgery Procedures Obsolete
Silicone implants and botox may soon be obsolete; followed by face lifts, skin grafting and hair transplants (which may soon become a new procedure: hair implants) due to new uses found for adult stem cells found in human fat tissue.

The better know stem cells, embryonic stem cells found in fetal tissues are pluripotent or multipotent cells and are capable of growing a wide array of tissues (from skin, to bone, to more fat tissues and beyond), but not all multipotent stem cells occur in embryos. Adult stem cells found in an adult human body also exist and some of these cells are multipotent as well, most notably adult fat stem cells.

Fat stem cells could soon replace silicone implants and fat grafts transplanted to other areas of the body as both have major drawbacks, not the least of which is an unnatural aesthetic. The primary issue with fat graphs is that they have the tendency to breakdown or be reabsorbed and redistributed by the body once grafted leaving the areas to which they were transplanted looking withered and uneven. Fat stem cell enhanced grafts, however, continually produce new cells, keeping the existing cells from being broken down or reabsorbed.

Similarly, botox injections are rapidly absorbed systemically with results of the fullness they originally offered disappearing. Other wrinkle fillers, much like fat graphs, have a tendency to break down, leaving the area to which they were injected looking rather deflated. With stem cell enhanced fat injections, the filled area would remain full more permanently. All possibility of reaction to the toxicity of current wrinkle fillers would be negated by the healthy enhanced fat tissue.

Multipotent stem cells are not the only stem cells that may have major cosmetic usage. Stem cells found in hair follicles are currently being studied as scientists have discovered that a stem cell harvested from a healthy human follicle can be injected into a new area of skin and can grow a brand new, hair-producing follicle. Should the process be understood and refined, it would be the holy grail of hair restoration. Current hair restoration surgery must rely on moving existing, bald-resistant follicles to balding areas - these bald-resistant follicles are found only on the back and sides of the scalp and are finite in amount. The hair transplantation patient's grafts are restricted by the amount of hair that can be removed from the donor area. With functioning hair stem cell injections, this supply-and-demand problem would be a thing of the past - stem cell follicle growth injections would allow for an unlimited amount of follicular units to grow in formerly balding areas.

Skin grafting and face lifts may also soon reach a new level of sophistication as skin stem cells are also capable of growing new skin to repair damaged or aged areas. A surgeon could soon be stimulating facial skin to replace damaged areas at a rapid rate, removing the need for invasive surgery.

The future is looking beautiful already.


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