Dr. Wigoda’s Opinion: Suzanne Somers’ Stem Cell Face Lift

Suzanne Somers brings stem cells to the big screen with her recent appearance on the Dr. Oz show where she unveiled her recent stem cell breast surgery and discussed the stem cell face lift.

Suzanne traveled to Japan to take part in an experimental procedure to preserve her breasts after a mastectomy. The doctors removed fat, blood and stem cells via a small needle from Ms. Somers’ navel and put it through a centrifuge to separate the blood from the other needed “by-products.”  The surgeons then injected the stem cells along with the fat to create a new symmetrical breast for Suzanne.  In her own words, “It is me!” This method is a natural form of reconstruction without the use of implants or foreign materials that the body may reject.

In Breaking Through, Suzanne’s talk show, she recently discussed the opportunity for stem cell facelifts, stating that she recently banked her own stem cells for future use. “As we age, we age in the lower 3rd first and we are able to inject your own stem cells to rejuvenate your own skin. This is the future and so much better than ‘that look.’”

A joint task force of the two leading plastic surgery associations, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) both hold their stance that there is great potential for stem cells in aesthetic surgery but at this point in time, more research and actual data are required before they should be used in every day procedures. They are quoted as saying “…the scientific evidence and other data are very limited in terms of assessing the safety or efficacy of stem cell therapies in aesthetic medicine.”

The task force is led by J. Peter Rubin, MD, plastic surgeon and noted expert on fat-derived stem cells who stated:

“There are encouraging data from laboratory and clinical studies to suggest that the use of adult stem cells is a very promising field,” said Dr. Rubin, “but as our comprehensive review of the current scientific literature shows, the data available today do not substantiate the marketing claims being made to patients seeking aesthetic surgery and aesthetic medical treatments.”

Injecting fat into the face is nothing new.” says Dr. Paul Wigoda, “If the procedure is done correctly, about 50% of the fat will usually survive.”  As we age, portions of the face deflate partially due to fat loss, therefore, facial fat injections will assist with rejuvenation. It is important to note that should the individual gain weight, the fat will expand.

Stem cell research has been going on for a few years in hopes of being able to treat a variety of diseases and that will occur but not until 5-10 years from now.  According to Dr. Wigoda,

  • “There is absolutely no proof at this time that injecting stem cells anywhere is of any use for cosmetic enhancement. In my opinion, this is a gimmick as “stem cells” is the latest buzz word, similar to what “laser” was a few years ago.
  • You could add the word “laser” to any procedure, and people would think it was a magical procedure. To market this as the latest and best thing out there is deceptive in my opinion.
  • It seems to me that surgeons are constantly looking for gimmicks to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
  • Patients should always be wary of anything that is labeled as the “new best thing out there. The hype often precedes the research which, unfortunately in many cases, shows that the treatment did not have nearly the benefit that was claimed.”