Stem cell facial

What exactly is “Stem Cell” Lipo-Transfer?

Stem cell myth debunked

With all the hype about Stem Cell Therapy out in the media, patients ask all the time whether we perform “Stem Cell Therapy”. The answer is simply “no”. However we advise our patients that every time we perform Lipo-transfer, they are receiving added benefit from the patient’s own “adipocyte derived stem cells” that coexist in the fat matrix. This is the reason why the quality of your skin always brightens and appear better hydrated after Lipo-transfer procedure. In other words, unbeknownst, the unloved pouch of fat on your belly, flank, and thigh area could very well be your own source of “fountain of youth” when it comes to reversing the aging signs on your skin.

Over the years, as we become more aware of the importance of 3-D rejuvenation of the face, Lipo-transfer has proven to be best surgical option for addressing the volume loss and deflation part of the aging process. As a result, most patients have come to understand how important fat transfer has become for volume replacement and 3-D recontouring of our face. However most patients are not aware of additional benefits from the adipocyte derived stem cells which coexist in the fat matrix.

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The droplets of fat which is transferred back into your tissue consist of more than just mature fat cells. The fat matrix also contain “stromal vascular”cells. At a cellular level, the stromal vascular cell fraction (SVF) contain many important cells including

1. Adipocyte derived stem cell (ASC)
2. Pre-adipocyte
3. Endothelial cells
4. Pericytes
5. macrophages
6. Fibroblasts

All these cells within SVF is an amazing array of cells involved in the building block of your tissue matrix. In fact as more studies come out, it is becoming clear that it is the Pre-adipocytes (young fat cell) which survive the trauma of fat harvest from the donor site then survive the transfer process into the new host site. I can discuss more about Pre-adipocyte in another blog, but today I want to share with you what we understand so far about Adipocyte derived stem cells (ASC). This is a heavily researched area and we still have so much to learn about ASC, but these are some of the basic information I want to share with you today.

Did you know that every gram (just shy of 1cc) of fat contains 1 to 2 millions cells, of which roughly 1% to 10% is considered stem cells depending on which published study you are quoting from. To be conservative at 1%, that still means that with each 1cc of fat you are transferring to the face, roughly 10,000 to 20,000 cells that are adipocyte derived stem cells. In 30cc of fat which is a typical amount in a Lipo-transfer procedure, conservatively you are introducing 300,000 to 600,000 stem cells that would not have otherwise entered to enrich your skin. These stem cells can release growth factors to help stabilize the degeneration of your elastin fibers as well as develop “young” elastin fibers, and also help with formation of new microscopic blood vessels all working toward improving the quality of your aging skin… almost helping to slow down or maybe even reverse some of the aging changes to your skin.

This concept is very close to using Platelet Rich Plasma to rejuvenate the skin. The key difference is that PRP is an infusion of growth factors concentrated from your blood, which will dissipate with time while the adipocyte stem cells continue to produce the growth factors and help produce new vessels to sustain life to the newly transferred fat cells and rejuvenate the overlying skin. A good analogy is if the PRP is the egg, adipocyte stem cell is the chicken that keeps on laying the egg.

One very important caveat is that some business minded practitioners claim they can modulate the stem cells to produce better results. They are calling themselves “Stem Cell Centers” and charging exorbitant prices and making false advertising claims, deliberately misleading the public. As a result, FDA has come down on these centers and practitioners with stern warning to stop making false claims. I want to make it very clear that Lipo-transfer alone can do wonders in providing a “volume-lift” and as an added bonus, the abundance of adipocyte derived stem cells can help to rejuvenate the overlying skin…. however, all this benefit is inclusive in the Lipo-transfer procedure and you needn’t pay extra for gimmicky “stem cell” procedures.

Historically many surgeons have struggled with the concept of converting Lipo-transfer from surgical case under general anesthesia or deep sedation into simple office procedure under local anesthetic with just mild oral sedation, which makes this procedure much less cumbersome for both the surgeons and patients.


Because I have been performing this procedure for over 20 years using atrumatic, micro technique, all under local anesthesia, the fat can be easily harvested from the donor site, carefully processed, and transferred back into the face, usually all under an hour. As a result, repeated sessions are simply in and out procedures with many patients choosing to have it done on a Friday afternoon, rest over the weekend, and return back to work the following Monday. With every session, new fat is always harvested; repeated sessions using refrigerated fat is a concept foreign to me for many reasons. Most patients have almost no bruising and only mild swelling, allowing them to return back to work in matter of days.

Due to this easy protocol we have created, many of our patients undergo repeated sessions of Lipo-transfers no longer for the volume restoration; but, for continued regenerative gain of their skin from the Adipocyte Derived Stem cells in the Stromal Vascular Cell fraction of the fat matrix….. your very own personal source of “Fountain of Youth”!

You can also find related article in New Beauty site by Dr. Kang