How Stem Cells Could Revolutionize Cosmetic Surgery

cosmetic surgery stem cell

Plastic surgery is a thriving industry not just in America, but across the globe. According to a recent study published in the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), cosmetic surgery procedures are predicted to exceed 55 million annually by the year 2015.

However, it is often forgotten that a significant portion of these cosmetic surgeries are for reconstructive purposes; to improve the functionality of physical abnormalities and help restore them to a more normal appearance. Despite modern medicine, most of these reconstructive procedures are still rather primitive in nature. They still require invasive cutting and lengthy recoveries. For a one year old infant undergoing cleft chin plastic surgery, this can be especially detrimental. Fortunately, stem cell technology may some day revolutionize procedures such as these.

What are stem cells?
As you probably already know, stem cells are a type of cell which has the unique ability to develop into various types of tissue – muscle, skin, nerve, brain, etc. In other words, their cell type has not been pre-determined (as is the case with the other cells in your body). While it’s true there is ethical and moral controversy surrounding human embryonic stem cells, fortunately scientists have discovered other sources for obtaining them. For example, umbilical cord blood is extremely rich in stem cells; this can be harvested during birth without affecting the baby. There are also a variety of other stem cell sources which do not involve the use of human embryos.

How will stem cells be used in plastic surgery?
The possibilities are endless, but let’s take a look at a few of the ways researchers believe they will someday be incorporated in both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery:


Scar Revision Surgery: This procedure has remained largely unchanged over the past several decades. Basically, it involves a plastic surgeon cutting out scar tissue and suturing the skin back together, in hopes that it will be more aesthetically pleasing after healing. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of scar revision is extremely limited. By using stem cells, doctors may be able to actually re-grow skin which has been damaged. This will be especially helpful for burn victims.

Cleft Palate Surgery: A cleft palate is a congenital abnormality where the two plates that form the roof of the mouth are not fused together. This results in an open gap between the nasopharynx and the nose. In order to correct this abnormality, plastic surgeons must remove tissue from one or both sides of the mouth in order to rebuild the palate. Sometimes multiple surgeries are required. Scientists believe stem cells may offer an alternative; they will be used to grow the appropriate tissue to fill in the gap.


Breast Implants: Instead of using plastic bags filled with saline or silicone, eventually it might be possible to actually grow new breast tissue through the use of stem cells. Breast augmentation is typically considered a cosmetic procedure, but that’s not always the case. We receive a high percentage of posters on our breast implant forum whom are inquiring about reconstructing their breasts following a mastectomy.

Jaw, Chin, and Cheek Implants: Today’s facial implants consist of hard silicone which is shaped to fit over the bone’s natural contours. Being that these implants are made out of a foreign substance, it’s not uncommon for the body to reject them. The other drawback is that jaw and cheek implants rarely look natural. In the future, cheek implants may be replaced with natural cheek augmentation using stem cells instead.

Rhinoplasty: This is largely considered to be the most complicated facial plastic surgery procedure. The internal structure of the nose consists of a wide array of parts, as well as different types of tissue. When a nasal valve is collapsed due to weak or damaged cartilage, currently the only option a plastic surgeon has is to use cartilage from elsewhere on the body. Unfortunately, nasal cartilage is very unique and vastly different than that which is found in the ears and ribs. In fact, it has a tendency to warp deform, sometimes years after it has been placed in the nose. However stem cells may make it possible for doctors to generate cartilage which is virtually identical to that which is found in the nose.

Author: Michael is a forum administrator at; a consumer resource consisting of plastic surgery message boards, research articles, and physician interviews. In this article, he will discuss the future role of stem cells in plastic surgery.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. jenny Says:

    i think stemcell still in progress ….it might cost a lot of money to pay

  2. Cathy Says:

    We recently began looking at using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood to use as a treatment for anti aging. Scientists are now taking a different approach to the aging process and considering it a disease rather than a natural progression of life, therefore, cellular therapy from the inside is beneficial.

    The cosmetic end of the spectrum is something very exciting as we move more aggressively towards using cord blood stem cells and treating cosmetically the area of concern. This is an exciting time as we may have life extension and beauty all in one.

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