Recently there has been a great deal of interest in not only so-called “natural” breast augmentation, but also in the use of stem cells to increase the effectiveness of the procedure and predictability of results. However, the two major plastic surgical societies in the United States have issued a cautionary statement aimed at women who are considering the procedure. The statement comes after a joint task force commissioned by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) critically examined all available data on the procedures. It was summarized by the head of the task force: “There are encouraging data from laboratory and clinical studies to suggest that the use of adult stem cells is a very promising field, 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.” Although much of the report’s language is directed at surgeons themselves, there are some things you should take into account when considering breast augmentation using stem cells. In particular, you should ask your surgeon:
- Is this really a stem cell procedure? Some surgeons will describe regular fat grafting procedures as being “stem cell” procedures because there are stem cells present in fat tissue.
- Is there a scientific basis for the results you are promising me?
- Is this procedure being performed as part of a clinical study? Because the ASPS and ASAPS still consider stem cell procedures to be investigational, they should be performed only as part of a clinical study, along with proper reporting to advance the state of knowledge on the procedures.
- Is my procedure being performed in compliance with FDA guidelines? Some surgeons are using investigational technology that is not yet FDA-approved for marketing in the US. Make sure that the technology your surgeon is using is either FDA-approved or is being used as part of a registered approval study.
It’s also important to remember that at this point breast augmentation using fat grafting (even using stem cells) cannot currently give the same quality of results as that offered by breast implants. If you want to learn more about the science, safety, and options for breast augmentation, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Philadelphia plastic surgeon Dr. David A. Bottger.