Fat stem cells used to transform from inside out
The secret to looking years or even decades younger could lie in your own fat.
We recently told you about natural breast augmentation. An Oklahoma City surgeon is giving women fuller, bigger breasts using their own fat, liposuctioned from other parts of their bodies.
But that's just the tip of the ice burg, as cosmetic surgeons are discovering just how much our fat can do.
Inside these vials is something you can't make in a lab. There's a reason some doctors call fat "liquid gold."
"We're just at the very edge," said Dr. William Ehrlich. "And it's really exciting."
Our cameras rolled as Dr. Ehrlich worked on a 63-year-old patient, "Sally."
She's in great shape, but even with diet and exercise, she couldn't get rid of her love handles.
Sally also wanted to restore volume in her cheeks and around her mouth that she's lost with age.
"She's getting a '2 for'," said Dr. Ehrlich. "She's getting her flanks completely lipod. And she's getting rejuvenation of the face."
Some call it a stem cell face lift. After it's liposuctioned out, Sally's fat is processed, then the fat is immediately injected into and around her facial muscles in tiny amounts.
"Where ever you put it. It becomes that tissue," said Dr. Ehrlich.
There's no cutting, stitches or scars. And the results will last a decade or longer.
Dr. Ehrlich has done procedures like this, called fat grafting, for 13 years, but only recently have doctors discovered just how precious our own fat is. It's packed with valuable stem cells, more than any other place in your body.
"We're finding that the stem cells are actually much smarter than we thought they were," said Dr. Ehrlich.
Because of the stem cells, patients are noticing a change in their skin surface and texture, something you can't get from artificial fillers, which are temporary and very expensive. Not just faces, fat can also enhance breasts, erase scars, and rejuvenate the neck and hands.
"There are many studies that show having put it in the hand, six months later, the skin is twice as thick as it was," said Dr. Ehrlich.
The fat is literally transforming patients from the inside out. And now you can freeze any fat you don't need right away for later.
Dr. Ehrlich said, "A patient may come in and say, 'I'm doing liposuction anyway. Why don't I just bank that fat.? Because I may need it in 3 or 4 years.'"
It's an exciting time for cosmetic surgeons and for patients like Sally. Thanks to stem cells, the future of fat grafting is almost limitless.
Because patients are awake and relaxed for the procedure, they can get up and return home within an hour. And they are usually back to work in several days, although the swelling can take a few weeks to subside.