Stem cells from fat – Plastic surgery’s new frontier

2 tubes of extracted fat.

There is no doubt that the most exciting frontier in medicine now is the use of stem cells. Stem cells have the power to restore beauty, heal damaged tissues, and the potential to treat and cure some diseases.

Embryonic stem cells vs. fat stem cells

Up until recently the media has largely focused on the more controversial embryonic stem cells. These are stem cells derived from embryos. The potential uses of these cells to cure and treat diseases remain vast, but the controversial source of the cells poses ethical questions which have delayed medical progress.

During the past decade, researchers have discovered that stem cells can also be extracted from your own fat tissue. These adult stem cells have the same potential as embryonic stem cells, except for the ability to differentiate into sperm or ova. Unlike embryonal stem cells, stem cells extracted from your own fat are abundant, easily available, and pose no ethical or political controversy.

Cosmetic enhancements vs. therapies to treat diseases

Due to FDA regulations, stem cell therapies to treat diseases are not yet available in the U.S. unless you are part of a clinical trial. In this capacity they are considered to be ‘drug therapy’ and subject to very strict regulation. Therefore, patients not enrolled in these trials are currently traveling outside of the United States to get these therapies.

But using your own (autologous) stem cells to restore a more youthful appearance is available now, from experienced plastic surgeons here is the U.S. There is no need to travel to China, Korea, or Europe to get stem cell enhanced facial rejuvenation or breast augmentation. These therapies do not fall under the FDA’s ‘drug therapy’ classification and are therefore not regulated as such because: 1) the injections are performed in the same operative session as the liposuction procedure to remove the fat; 2) the stem cells have been only minimally manipulated; and 3) the stem cell enhanced fat transfer does not alter the original relevant biologic function of the stem cell. Thus, when the cosmetic enhancement is performed in the same operative session, it is not regulated by ‘drug therapy’ guidelines.

However, if your autologous stem cells are reinjected in a separate or second operative session, it is unclear whether the FDA considers that application to be a drug therapy, even though it is used for the same cosmetic purpose. There is currently an intense legal debate about what constitutes ‘drug therapy.’

Plastic surgeons and fat grafting (fat injections)

Plastic Surgeons have been extracting and reinjecting fat cells into tissues for over a decade. Experienced fat grafting surgeons have known that successful fat grafting is highly dependent on the techniques used for extracting, processing, and reinjection of the fat cells. Surgeons are beginning to understand that fat processing techniques which result in high concentrations of adult stem cells produce not only long lasting results, but also have therapeutic results in injured tissues.

Stem cell enhanced fat injections

An illustration explaining how stem cells from your own fat make you look younger.

To perform stem cell enhanced fat grafting, fat is first extracted by Liposuction using low negative pressure. The fat is then processed. Proper fat processing techniques include centrifugation and decanting of the extracted fat. Long lasting results are only achieved with proper fat processing techniques.

In contrast, surgeons who rinse the tissue decrease stem cell adherence to fat cells, and do not increase the concentration of stem cells. These less concentrated grafts have a smaller percentage of success.

Reinjection of the fat must be performed in very small quantities and distributed through all tissue layers to facilitate reestablishment of blood flow to the fat grafts.

Areas which benefit from stem cell enhanced fat injections

Examples of stem cell enhanced fat transfers which can be performed in the same operative session by plastic surgeons at the present time include:

  1. Facial fat injections – The fat transfer to the face is not just a volume filler. The stem cell enhanced fat can actually rejuvenate your facial tissues and skin. Stem cells assist in increasing blood supply to tissues to make tissues look younger.
  2. Breast augmentation – Fat injections provide a natural alternative to breast implants
  3. Brazilian butt lift– Originally used for buttock enhancement, stem cell enhanced fat transfers are being used in body contouring to create an hourglass figure.
  4. Hand rejuvenation– As in the face, there is not only a volume enhancement, but aged hand skin is revitalized by the fat transfer.

Other areas of stem cell therapy which are being investigated and currently developed are:

  1. radiotherapy injuries
  2. tissue defects
  3. lumpectomy reconstruction
  4. breast reconstruction after cancer

Stem cells are the new frontier in plastic surgery

Stem cell therapy is a paradigm shift in cosmetic surgery. Instead of the surgeon using his talents to create the illusion of a more youthful body, the surgeon guides your body to rejuvenate itself!!

By Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez MD Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Cosmeticsurg Baltimore, Maryland Ricardo L. Rodriguez on American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

106 thoughts on “Stem cells from fat – Plastic surgery’s new frontier”

  • T. Brooks says:

    Hello Good Afternoon Dr. Rodriguez, Hi this is Brooks, Five years ago there was a medpor implant placed inside my nose to replace the collapsed cartilage. It hurts!!! It looks misshappened!! Is there a rhinoplasty specialist in the United States who takes fat cells and turns it into nasal cartilage yet. Four other countries perform this procedure however, the preference is to have the reconstruction done in America. Look forward to hearing from you, L. Brooks
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      T.Brooks: No such product has been approved by the FDA yet, and I think it will take quite some time to get tissue engineered therapies approved by the FDA. There are many good rhinoplasty surgeons in the US who can take care of your problem.
  • janet pedersen says:

    I live in California,san Fernando valley are there any doctors that carry out this procedure in this area Thank you
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Janet, the fat grafting procedures are very specialized and technique dependent. We have many patients in our practice who come from out of town. Contact Kelly at if you want more info.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Hooman: We don't know yet. I will be starting a research project on this in the spring doing a combination of Laser with Stromal Vascular Fraction cells. Check back with us in a month or two.
  • Anna says:

    Dear Dr. Rodrigues, My inferior turbinate was cauterized 4 years ago. I no longer have resistance on the nose and the inflow of air is too much particularly and I am layind down. I dont experience crusting or bledding but do experience dryness on the nose, back of throat and mouth and a great inflow of air. There is a doctor in Italy who claim the improvement of turnibates by the use of PRP or PRL.. even claiming the use of PRL helping to regenerate the turbinates. I am keen to do the treatment to help to reinstate some moist on the nose and also provide some resistance to improve the inflow of air. I have copied the link of the website, hope is not unapropriate, and would appreciate your opinion. Many thanks Anna
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      The concept sounds OK. Prior to committing to go there, ask for a list of patients who have had the procedure and would be willing to talk to you. Check it out with the patients who have had the procedure.
  • Coraline says:

    Dr. Rodriguez, I had a bimalleolar fracture on my ankle and I have a 12 inch scar because of the fibula fracture was fixed via ORIF. I am heartbroken to discover that my fracture could have been fixed using minimally invasive techniques, but that wasn't available where I was treated. Now I'd like to do anything to have this horrific scar removed from my ankle. I just had a second surgery to remove the hardware 3 weeks ago. The first surgery was 6 months ago. When can I have this removed and stem cell from fat can be useful to improve the appearance? The scar is bumpy and dark. I'm very fair skinned and the scar is very long and visible. It upsets me more than I could imagine. What treatment can I start immediately at least to improve the appearance? If I could just cut this off out of me now, I'd do! Thanks!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Coraline: At this point it is very hard to do stem cell injections in the US. What I recommend is fat injections because when properly processed, fat tissue has a good concentration of stem cells. You can start fat grafting immediately. The problem is finding somebody who does it properly as processing methods play a key role in making sure your fat graft takes. After you get a good base, then you can get a scar revision.
  • Ricki says:

    Thank you so much for your reply. Is it possible for me to forward you pictures of the scar before I underwent revision and provide you with pictures after the revision was performed? Really need some professional advise. I could be wrong for opting for the fat injection with my current surgeon. I'm just very concerned cause its my face.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ricky: The best way to deal with this is through a phone or Skype (or FaceTime) consultation. Contact Kelly for info on how to set it up. She's available at I think a discussion with pictures is the best way for me to give you an educated opinion.
  • Ricki says:

    Hi there, I have a question. I had a scar near my left eye, and i went for a revision with a board certified plastic surgeon here in Penang, Malaysia. Currently, after the revision, which has been around 9 months now, the scar is dark red and i still am unhappy with the results. However, my plastic surgeon has suggested for me to perform a fat injection on the area, but he said he cant guarantee that it will work. I am caught in a dilemma, and it has been bothering me for a long time now. The fact that the scar is in my face is what is really troubling. I would do anything to minimise the apperance of it even more. Could you offer some advise please ? Thanks
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      For a recent scar like yours the first thing to do is be patient. My usual routine is not to even think about scar revision until a year and a half after surgery. The second thing is location and orientation of the scar. If the scar is located in an area of tension or is aligned against the lines of expression (for example, the "crows feet" at the corner of your eyes), it may never completely resolve. The fact that your scar is red means it may still come down. In this situation you may accelerate the process by Laser. This is one of the few situations where I recommend Laser. Fat injections may help, but I would have to evaluate you. If you are interested in a virtual consultation, contact Kelly at
  • Chloe says:

    I received a laser resurfacing treatment on my face that ended up causing volume loss as well as more skin damage. My skin looks very unhealthy as well as has a few shallow scars after the treatment. Could stem cell fat grafting help my skin and those few small scars?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Chloe: Check this previous blogpost where I specifically address these issues. Yes, fat grafting, or high density fat grafting is exactly what you need. I have treated several patients in the past for this same condition after laser therapy. It works! Contact Kelly at for more info
  • Ila says:

    I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too.
  • ian says:

    hello you mention prp and fat can be injected into the nasal turbinates and nasal lining.. I hear they do that in Italy, germany and I heard Dr. Epply does it in the states? it seems safe so why don't you try it. I heard it helps with atrophic rhintis
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ian: I don't do it because I'm not an Ear Nose and Throat surgeon. One of my main problems is that people who do stem cell therapies should treat conditions they are familiar with. I'm sure prp and fat would help with atrophic rhinitis, but I wouldn't know how to inject it, where, how much, etc. and all those things are important.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Mr Pereira: At this point there are no stem cell procedures that i know of to stimulate turbinate regrowth. You should see a different Ear Nose and Throat specialist, preferably at a University medical center to advise you. You may need nasal airway humidifiers.
  • Pereira says:

    Dear Dr.Rodriguez, I have a question about Stem Cells,when are they to start doing trials for the empty nose syndrome? I lost my middle turbinates about nine years ago. Thank you so much.
  • DB says:

    Dr. Rodriguez, For the treatment of acne scars, if someone still had acne break outs, could the stem cell fat graft still be performed? What might be the downside to having this procedure performed while breakouts are still active? Thank you
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      DB: I have performed the procedure on patients with acne. The acne seems to get worse in the immediate post op period but then settles in nicely. The skin improves in quality and becomes softer. It is up to you to decide, as I can't guarantee that it will cure your acne, but i can tell you I have used it on a lot of patients with acne before and they liked it. I definitely cannot think of a case where it has got worse. If you are interested contact Kelly at
  • Waleed says:

    Dear Dr.Rodriguez, Regarding stem cells culturing , is it possible to harvest lets say 25 cc of fat ,isolate and culture the stem cells, and inject 200c for buttock augmentation ? thank you
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Waleed: Your weight is a function of how many calories you eat versus how many calories you expend. I could theoretically do what you say, but there is no guarantee the cells would continue to store the fat. Once in the body they would be in competition with other fat storing cells in your body for circulating triglycerides. If the other cells are metabolically tuned to avidly store triglycerides better than the fat grafted cells, after a while the grafted cells would just atrophy.
  • Carol says:

    Dr. Rodriguez, I came in to see you a year ago regarding a loss of skin elasticity. I am 47 years old and was an avid sun worshiper and now I am paying the price. The area that bothers me the most is the skin around my knees and on my thighs. I work out at the gym religiously and have very toned muscles but my skin detracts from it. I am not comfortable wearing shorts. When I came in you had said that at that time nothing could be done but within a few years, there should be breakthroughs in technology. Would you please tell me if there is any hope on the horizon for improving my situation? Is this something that fat/stem cells could improve?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Carol: You could try a combination of fat grafting and skin tightening procedures. I'd have to see your pictures again to remember your appearance, but I am doing a lot of fat grafting for a lot of conditions I didn't even think about a few years ago.
  • HW says:

    Dear Dr. Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez, I have a question to ask, why not culture the stem cells seperated from fat tissue into a large amount and then reinjected instead of centrifugating and get the good fat tissue to reinject?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      HW: The short answer is you could. The problem is the FDA which will not allow us to culture your own cells for reinjection unless we go through a prolonged and costly period of laboratory and clinical trials. We are talking millions of dollars and 5-7 years. We have posted a lot on this subject, here's one post you might be interested in.
  • John A. De John says:

    I am 70 years old and have type 2 Diabetes and I’m still taking the pill with sugar levels around 200. I’m looking for a clinic that is located as close to Georgia as possible. I don’t have a lot of money but found that adipose stem cell treatment could be within a low cost budget. Please advise if there is any clinics available in my area. Thanks, John A. De John
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      John: At this point in time there is nobody I can recommend to you. There are no clinical trials that I am aware of, but you can check with the National Institute of Health to see if there are any clinical trials they can refer you to. Merry Christmas!
  • Brittany says:

    Hey, I was wondering can you please answer my question from Here is the link.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Brittany: We have done many patients that are not heavy. The key thing is the waist to hip ratio. We can definitely change that. The whole basis of the procedure is to get the fat cells from your stomach, which is where you gain weight now, and to put them in your butt. That way, when you put on weight, it will go to your buttocks instead of your belly. Merry Christmas, and we'd loves to hear from you!
  • Tanzania Mosley says:

    I think I'm a good candidate for the autologous i sed to be a C cup now I'm a floppy A cup wen my fiance first saw my breasts 4 yrz ago I could see how disgusted he was wit my breasts i haven't let him seen my breasts again ive been trying creams gels teas & pills plus all kinds of exercise that dont work im so depress & I wish I could afford the fat cells transfer but i fell on hard times! I will luv to be part of this study! I'll do any thing desperate even! I wish i can get this done so I can feel beautiful again but instead I'm left with nothing but skin & nipples
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Tanzania: Unfortunately, there are no studies that i am aware of. When I find out I will tell you. Until that time, you could consider financing, or a conventional breast augmentation. Don't give up hope, you can really do this if you set your mind to it. Our office can give you info on financing. You can contact Kelly at if you are interested. Don't lose hope!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      JM: It depends on what the actual problem is. If the problem is an excess of fat, then fat removal may be necessary. If the problem is with the platysma muscle, then a repair of the muscle is necessary. If there is a poor skin quality with a lot of wrinkling, then stem cells might help.
  • jm says:

    Hello Dr Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez, I live in Canada, how many visits would i have to make to have my breast and face done? and when would i be able to return on a flight?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      JM: We have had several patients from Canada, as a matter of fact I have one right now from Quebec staying at one of the extended stay hotel. Usually, I will do a virtual consult with the patient (Skype, IChat, or phone) so we can make recommendations based on photographs and the patients expectations. Then I see the patients the day before surgery. For a procedure such as what you suggest (face and breast) I would recommend a 1 week stay. By one week the vast majority of issues would be resolved or well on their way to resolution. It is not unusual for me to do the follow up visits at the hotel if the patient so desires, as a courtesy for those who come from out of town. Contact Kelly at
  • C S says:

    Hello Dr Rodriguez, I am thinking about having adjustable breast augmentation done, following an augmentation that I had in 2002, in order to get hopefully, some lift and projection. There has been some sagging that I hope can be corrected without the anchor lift procedure ie ugly long scars. I have seen many of these as I am an RN (Masters degree and doing another Masters) in patients and they don't look too good especially if there is a thick faded reddish scar years after the procedure. A lollipop may be an option with a circum- areolar incision I suppose. I had 400cc retropectoral implants with Benelli "lift" which temporarily gave me 34 GG size and now I have approximately 34EE size , 8 years later. The adjustables will give ME some control of the outcome and correct asymmetry. I realize that you will need close up pics to decide whether this is at all possible. The next issue concerns FAT transfer for Buttock lift. Cytori, as you know, came out with the Celution process which seems to offer a safer method, with hopefully better outcomes. Of more importance is the tissue matrix added now to the fat cells to give scaffolding and even stem cells in Japan, to give results that appear to have only 20% fat re absorption. With current methods giving one at best 50% fat survival chance, no matter which surgeon boasts about 70 to 80%, a second procedures becomes necessary down the road unless the surgeon overfills dramatically and hopes that the end result will be fine. Is there any truth that VASER liposuction and smart lipo are used for fat transfer instead of tried and trusted aspiration using a large syringe, as practised by the Brazilians for decades. I also realise that many surgeons boast about all sorts of latest gizmos which, if real, are no use if the skill is lacking. After all a smart tool in poor hands is no use at all. So after cutting through all the hype and promise which one sees all to often in a competitive market such as cosmetic surgery, I have come round after looking at hundreds of comments by hundreds of surgeons that you appear to be cut above most other surgeons websites, who are competing for the same "real estate". Of cousre I realize that you will need pictures AP, lateral and oblique to give you some ideas as to what is feasible. I live in Canada and will have to travel to USA so the least trips the better. Thank you very much in anticipation for your considered opinion. PS I have never been pregnant, don't smoke and I am 5ft 7ins tall and weigh 150lbs
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      C S: It is obvious you have done your research. I am very familiar with Cytory, but do not use it. Furthermore, I cannot even begin to guess how much of my fat graft remains, as there are other issues that come into play, such as the way fat redistributes when adjacent areas are liposuctioned. Finally, the secret of a successful Brazilian Butt lift is What you sculpt before the first cc of fat is injected. In the end, the proof is in the pudding and my results speak for themselves, my patients render their opinion in their own stead. Please contact Kelly at to set up a virtual consultation, and I know from my reading your brief message, that I will enjoy the consultation. Until then, sincerely, Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez MD
  • Gloria says:

    Hi, I'm getting the buttocks surgery. The doctor said I might lose 2/3 of the butt fat and I may lose moe why? I thought this procedure last forever.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Gloria: The results of fat grafting, when done correctly, are very long lasting. We have done over 200 of these cases, and frankly, I have never lost 2/3 of the fat. Call our office, we'd be more than glad to help you. If you want it done right, take a look at how I do it, I know you will do the smart thing once you know the facts. You can contact Kelly at
  • Zahid says:

    Sir I am having dark sunken circles around my eyes. I want to have a stem cell fat grafting. Will the effects be permanent and is it same like permanent fillers injection? Is there any difference between terms permanent fillers and permanent filler stem cells? And will this stem cell grafting last forever or a limited period?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Zahid: Fat grafting to get rid of the dark circles under the eyes is a great procedure. The theory is that as we age the very thin fat layer between the thin skin of the eyelids and the muscle layer is what makes the dark shadow. By thickening this layer with a very thin layer of fat and the extra collagen laid down by the stem cells you get a very natural result. Many people get into trouble by injecting the fat too superficially. The trick is to inject most of the fat in the underlying cheek tissue to give you a smooth result. Fillers are not permanent. More importantly, they may fill the volume, but they do not change the character of the skin. Stem cells really do increase the thickness of the dermis and make it more like younger skin. As far as how long they last, I have answered this for you in another post
  • Rosemary Bray says:

    Hello Dr Rodriguez I am from the uk: I am a lady of 51 years old and have had Discoil Lupus since I was 28 years old. I have been using a steriod cream on my face for 23 years now and it has taken its toll around my mouth area. I have seen a plastic surgeon today who is going to correct the area with my own body fat fron around my belly button area. After watching you videos and reading your notes I was wondering if it wouls be worth me asking him to put in other parts of my face as it may help my Lupus and regenerate my damage skin areas. Have you has any success with paitents with my skin condition. The lupus has always been on my face but over the last 4/5 years my wrinkles have got worse. I have stopped using the steriod cream now and have other alternatives to use although takes longer to clear when i have an outbreak. I think my lupus is more sun sensitive so use a factor 50 every day. Would it be possible for my surgeon to inject my head are as my lupus comes here as well. Kind Regards Rose Bray
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Rosemary: The stem cells in your fat also have immune suppressive qualities, so yes, I would recommend using it in other areas of your face. Good luck with your fat injections, and let me know how it works out! I'd be very interested in seeing how it turns out for you. Best Wishes
  • Tom says:

    Dear Dr. Rodriguez, First of all, congratulations for blazing the path in this field. I am considering a fat transfer procedure from belly to vocal chords. I am a teacher and my voice has major problems of projection due to defective glottal closure and a voice doctor once told me the procedure of fat grafting would be a solution. Because of a longterm, strained voice my pitch is also a bit too high and sounds unpleasant to some. Fat grafting to vocal chords has been proven to deepen the voice as well. I wonder, would the procedure be much more effective if the fat is stem-cell enhanced, as you explain it? I would like to request that my doctor centrifugates the fat and follows the procedure you do so the vocal chords remain permanently fat (not uncommonly more injections are needed to keep the voice from becoming thin and strained again, I've read). What do you think? Thanks for your opinion on this. If you agree, could I ask the doctor to become in contact with you? We are in a Latin American country. Greetings, Jose.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Jose: I actually do not know much about your condition or how to treat it. I would be hesitant to place any fat graft in the vocal cords for the same reason I don't like doing it in the lip: they move too much. Grafts don't do well when they are placed in a bed that moves a lot. I do not think a higher proportion of stem cells will ensure better take. Again, this is only an opinion, based on incomplete knowledge.
  • firoozeh says:

    hi dr Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez thank you for yuor article' i m plastic surgeon and starting fat transplant in my paitients. i have a question ,how do you rich the fat by stem cells to have permenant transplant?and do you use platelat rich in fat transplant also? best regards
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      firoozeh: If the fat graft is done correctly, it will be permanent No, I do not use PRP (Platelet release Products) in conjunction with fat grafts. The stem cells in fat are very responsive to chemical signals and PRP's release a host of signals. I'm afraid we don't understand enough about this.
  • Jane says:

    Hi Dr. Rodriguez I want to know if fat keeps growing once after it has been transfered? I was told that after 4 to 6 months, what fat has taken to the body area will keep growing and that one may want to think over first how much fat they want or need transfered since as time passes it may become a little to much fat then in that area. How correct is that?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Jane: Transplanted fat behaves just like it did when it was at its original site. If you gain extra weight it, and it was from a fat pocket area that used to gain weight, it will also gain weight in its new location. If it was from an area that did not tend to gain weight before, it most likely will not grow in its new area either. As long as you keep your normal weight, you should have no worries. Hope this helps!
  • Dede says:

    Hello Dr. Rodriguez, I see in some of the posts below that you mentioned that fat grafts with stem cells would help soften acne scars. I was wondering if it could be done to soften the acne scars without making the volume of the whole face much larger. I have severe acne scarring, but already have a round/full face...I would not need, or want much more volume. Also, in addition to hypotrophic scarring, have you seen the effects of the grafts with any hypertrophic scarring? Could they help, make it worse, etc? Thanks!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Dede: Stem cells have active compounds that help dissolve scar and remodel tissue. This is my field of research. As far as a case like yours there are two answers. One is to do a very thin layer of grafting at the scar layer right underneath the skin. The other is to do a thin cannula lipo in the deeper layer, then a fat injection in the scar layer. With this second alternative you could have a leaner face even after a fat injection. You don't have to accept this condition now that there is a good alternative such as fat grafting. We'd love to hear from you!
  • sandy d. says:

    hello i wanted to get a breast lift without implants this summer. and i wanted to make my breast full using the stem cell and fat tranfer. i think im a 36C and i wanted to go to like a DD. do you thank that would be possible. and i wanted to have the stem cell and fat tranfer into my butt as well and into my thighs for thicker thighs. i want my butt to be really big and juicy looking. and i also heard that if you can eat alot then your breast,butt,and your thighs will grow alot bigger after getting the proceducer done. is this true? and please give me the price for this thank you and god bless!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sandy: If you are serious about this, contact Kelly at so we can set up a virtual consult and address the many things you brought up in the post. Have a great weekend!
  • tim says:

    Can this stem cell process help patients that suffer from Empty Nose Syndrome by injecting into the inferior turbinates to help restore back to normal function?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Tim: In theory, stem cells can replace any cell type. In reality, a lot of specific conditions apply. I don't think anybody has done work on turbinate augmentation. I suspect other factors such as local tissue matrix will be really important in determining how the stem cells differentiate once they are injected into the turbinate.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sarah: It depends. As a minor, It would depend on your parents or guardians approval. If you are really interested, we'd love to help you. Contact Kelly at
    • Kelly Warner says:

      Hi Sarah, Dr. Rodriguez would need to evaluate you in person. Please call me so that I may set up an appointment that is convenient for you. Thank you, Kelly Warner Patient Coordinator 410-494-8100
  • keuleya friebely eloge says:

    hi dr rodriguer sorry in want to know if the stems cell fat is for the breast augmentation too beacause i'im interested by this proccess and i want to know in how many time i have the result.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Keuleya: Yes, we can do breast augmentation with fat. The procedure can be done in one sitting. Contact Leeza at if you want more info. She'd be happy to help you.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Molly Results will be permanent if the fat is properly harvested and processed. That is technique dependent. As for the natural look, that depends on the judgement and artistry of the surgeon.
  • molly says:

    ok thanks for the info :) but in about how many years can you get this done? is it like one year from now?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Molly: We'll be doing it within a few months, and for sure in a year we'll be already well into it.
  • molly says:

    Hello! can you use stem cells in the lips? how much bigger would they get then or can you actually choose the size? have you started using stem cells yet or is it something you're still developing, if you've started using it which doctor is preforming it?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Molly: We are using stem cells with our fat grafts. As far as lip augmentation, I recommend you watch this video to find out wether you would be a better candidate for lip lift or lip augmentation or both. Stem cells can be used in the lips, if indicated.
  • pimple removal says:

    I had no idea that stem cells were even being used in plastic surgery. Sounds like it would be better than the other artificial things that are injected into your body; definitely more natural at least. I just wish that more conclusive evidence were forthcoming to prove to the FDA the validity of using stem cells for medicinal purposes as well.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Stem cells are being used in a variety of ways, including reconstructive surgery of the breasts, reconstruction of entire organs, and immune modulation. Clinical research is hard to do, as I am finding out myself. There will be a glut of information coming in soon, and you can expect foreign clinics to aggressively push their therapies here in the US. The FDA has no problems with the efficacy of stem cell therapy, they just are concerned with the safety issues.
  • Christopher says:

    I was wondering if there where an surgeons preforming the stem cell injections in the Chicago area? I am very interested in this procedure. I am 38 and just starting to see some frown lines. I guess it could be any where around in the mid west or north east area. Thank you, Chris
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Christopher: Stem cells are great, but I am not sure they are what you are looking for. The best way to approach this is to figure out what the cause of the frown lines is and then decide what the best therapy is. Frown lines are caused by a habitual muscle contraction. Paralysing the muscle with Botox works, but it's only temporary. Interrupting the muscle with an endoscopic brow lift is permanent, but it's a surgical intervention. Injecting stem cells into the frown line will not correct the deformity, it will only mask it temporarily. Check out this blogpost on brow lift. If you would like to know more, contact Kelly at, we'd love to hear from you.
  • James says:

    Thank you. I am going to pursue a rheumatologist . The bloodwork is getting expensive as I don't have provider's insurance and I am anxious to find out what is causing this condition so I don't lose my mind and by face at the same time. I am finding my frustration level challenged to find the right Dr. in Tucson that is knowledgable in muscle and cell degeneration. You indicated that some antiviral therapies can cause atrophy of facial fat. Can you elaborate on that for me?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      James: There is a relatively well known syndrome of facial fat wasting and lipodystrophy in patients who have been treated for HIV with certain drug "cocktails". I am not that knowledgeable in it, but anybody who treats HIV will be familiar with it. I have treated some of these patients with facial fat injections, but in some cases the fat loss is generalised and finding donor fat is difficult. In those cases I find the use of an injectable, "Sculptra", beneficial. Remember, getting a diagnosis is your first step.
  • Litsa Stefanaki says:

    Dear dr Rodriguez, because of a problem which requires nasal reconstruction with very uncertain (rather discouraging) prognosis, I have been advised to look for advancements in the use of autologous stem cells for engineering nose cartilage, etc. A couple of leading labs have e-mailed me that they hope to get approval for trials on people quite soon, as they have had successful results in generating cartilage with structural integrity, but I do not know whether it would be worth waiting for a medical application on volunteers in the very near future. As I have postponed surgery in the hope of this, and as disfigurement has enormous psychological implications, I would be extremely grateful if you could offer me your opinion on the possibilility of such a revolution in cosmetic reconstructive surgery. If you will be willing to use this procedure some time soon, I would certainly be interested in trying it and would greatly appreciate a notification from you, as you have already had experience with stem cells in some areas. I have heard of something like fat+stem cells enhancement for the nose being offered already, but I do not know if this could help with adding even mild length to / counter-rotating the tip. Many thanks for your kind attention and any suggestions you may have. Litsa Stefanaki
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Dear Litsa: Sorry for the delay in answering. In cases of nasal reconstruction, the key is not so much the availability of this or that type of cartilage, but the experience of the surgeon in reconstructing the nose. There are plenty of good options presently available for total nasal reconstruction. There are several surgeons in the US who have unparalleled technical expertise and I would advise you to concentrate on that rather than on the availability of stem cell enhanced cartilage grafts. You should look up John Tebbets in Dallas and Gary Burget in Chicago. They are both artists in nasal reconstruction. It is well worth your time and money to see them. Please do not make the mistake of seeing somebody who has a stem cell cartilage but no artistry in nasal reconstruction. God bless you and let me know when you get in contact with Dr. Tebbets or Dr. Burget!
  • James says:

    Thank you, I did go to UMC but the doctor I saw told me he didn't see anything wrong and told me it was because of my age being 40, changes occur. As far as the joint pain it was just that I was getting older as well. I was very dissapointed with UMC. I will try your advice with getting in touch with a Rheumatologist and let you know.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      James: Thanks for keeping me in the loop! Sometimes it takes being seen by a few specialists before you get a diagnosis. Best of luck in your search.
  • James says:

    I would welcome your advice on a condition I have with the skin around my eyes. I am 40 yrs. and about 2 months ago I noticed a severe change in my eyes and the elasticity around the eyes deteriorating and the muscle structure breaking down in what appeared to me to be the loss of my checks and my eyelids drooping. I went to an opthamologist and they could not give me any advise. The dermatologist gave me no direction either after running a blood profile on me and not finding anything. Can you advise me on whom to see for help? I am in Tucson, AZ. Your help is most appreciated as I feel my face is changing right before my eyes on a daily basis. I was concerned that I may have contracted some form of bacterial infection or parasite that was in my bloodstream and concentrating on that are of my face.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      James: The cardinal thing in Medicine is that diagnosis comes before therapy. You may need to see several different specialists before you get a proper diagnosis. I would recommend you go to a University Hospital. in Tucson. Start out with a Rheumatologist, they deal with autoimmune disorders. It may be an infectious process, but it does not sound like it. Some kinds of antiviral therapies can cause atrophy of facial fat. Good luck in your search. Let me know when you get a diagnosis.
  • Kerri says:

    Hello Doctor, My name is Kerri, I am 28 years old and have had 4 children. My body is very hard on the eyes. I was always able to pull my body back together after my pregnancies until, my last one. I went from 135 lbs. to 247 lbs. My skin hangs and the extra skin on my arms hang about 3 inches down from my muscle. I was wondering if this fat stem cell injection or reconstruction will help keep my skin tight? Even when i lost weight, my skin still hung. I tried everything from tightening and toning work outs to heat wraps and creams, nothing will help. If it can help, is there something i can do to have a procedure done at little to no cost. Maybe a type of market research or some testing. My budget is very low but, my confidence about myself is even lower. I thank you for your time reading my comment.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Kerri: My best suggestion to you is to go to a University medical center near you where they have a Plastic Surgery training program. Usually these programs have a clinic program to help patients like you. Good luck on your search, I am sure you will find Plastic Surgery training program near you.
  • ann says:

    Is there any possibility in the near future that there will be the ability to grow more of a patients own fat from stem cells so that it would not be necessary to rely on fat that the person already in the case of someone who has had lipo in past and does not want any more significant amount of fat removed. Thank-you.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ann: Yes, there is. Already scientists are able to grow fat from a small sample. It takes time and resources to grow, so it is costly, but yes, it can be done now. Thanks for reading our blog!
  • Marko says:

    Hello Dr. Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez. I am interested to know if this procedure would be helpful for softening acne scars? Thanx
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Marko: Yes, it works wonderfully for acne scars. One of my earliest fat grafting cases was for acne scars, and I was amazed at how good the skin looked. Now we know it was the stem cells in the fat. We'd love to hear from you, call Kelly at
  • Carol says:

    Dr. Rodriguez: I am slender built. Approximately 20 years ago, I had liposuction in my thighs and buttocks and 1000 cc of fat was removed. I feel that too much fat was removed. I am having problems sitting and have pain. I would like to have some fat cells replaced to those areas. Because of my slender built, I don't have any fat cells in my body to spare. What can I do?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Carol: You should go to a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist to see why you are having pain sitting. It may indeed be because of lack of fat, but you need to rule out other possibilities too. As for being of a slender build, you'd be surprised how much fat we can find in other areas of your body. If your objective is just to pad some areas, you may have enough.
  • Sandy Barber says:

    How much does it cost for the fat/stem cell transfer to the face.. I have already had a fat transfer to the face and it did not last long. Thank You.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sandy: Fat grafts, when done well, are permanent. I don't "repeat" fat grafts. If you are interested, contact Kelly at Looking forward to hearing from you!
  • Nikki says:

    I've read that fat transfers for breast enhancement cause breast calcifications. If this is true, what's the likelyhood that cancerous calcifications will form as a result of this procedure? Also, would you recommend this procedure for young women who are interested in this method as an alternative to implants and don't need reconstruction or want to fix sagging breast due to breastfeeding or age?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Nikki: Calcifications from fat injections are secondary to poor injection technique. When fat dies, cell membranes disrupt and the cell contents interact with calcium. These calcifications do not turn malignant but some people were concerned that they would be confused with or obscure cancerous calcifications. Experienced mammographers can tell them apart. The issue of sagging breasts is a little bit more complex. If the areola is low on the chest wall, or below the fold of the breast, the patient needs a lift. Would I recommend it to young women? Yes, but the barrier is price. Implants are relatively cheap compared to fat injections to the breast. Hope this helps!
  • Laurie Hochheimer says:

    Dr Rodriguez, Sven was just telling me about this new procedure which was started in London by a French Doctor named Dr. Sister. Anyway, it is called Vampire therapy or S3 therapy. I found it to be quite interesting and I thought about you and wondered if you were aware of it. Anyway, below is a comment from a doctor in Utah about it. So, I guess you know where I am going with this, what do you think? Would you consider trying it? I am still looking for something to help my acne scars...that is why Sven mentioned it to me. However, I guess it is great for wrinkles, sports injuries etc. and has been used for a long time to help people with receding gums. Which, begs the question of WHY my dentist continues to fill in the spots on my teeth where my gums have receded, and the fillings never last more than a few months. Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, I know you are busy but let me know what you think (of the physician's note describing the technique below) if you have the time. Thanks, Laurie Hochheimer "Hi, Christine I'm a doctor and have been performing platelet rich plasma injections (the scientific name for stimulated serum) for orthopedic/musculoskeletal conditions for almost 5 years with excellent results. The way it works: At the time of injury platelets congregate at the site of the injury to create a blood clot (everyone knows this) but platelets also release proteins that are directly responsible for tissue healing and regeneration - so basically injecting platelets into an injury that never fully healed such as a tear, chronic tendonitis, (even arthritis), tricks your body into thinking that it has undergone a new injury (but it has not) and this launches your body's natural healing mechanisms to grow new, healthy, collagen. About a year ago I learned of the cosmetic applications so I tried it on my girlfriend (of course) - to date I've performed this on about 18 women and 2 men and they have all been THRILLED. The 2 main applications are for filling folds and for rejuvenating aging skin (can be done anywhere on body such as face including eyelids or hands). Now - onto a comment on your article. I can totally appreciate that you might be grossed out by PRP into your face if you are squeamish about blood and also if you have strong opinions about society's pressure on women to look like 22 year old anorexics. However the reality is there are many women (and men) who feel younger than they look and would like their skin to match their vitality and also attention to other aspects of their appearance (hair, clothes, etc). If you look at PRP therapy this way without judgement (and if you can look past the vampire stuff), really, triggering your body's own ability to regenerate is really a naturopathic approach. Additionally, even though I've only been doing this for a year, so far the results are lasting and in fact you continue to notice improvement many months out. Anyway, hope this helps. Dr Harry Adelson"
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Laurie: Hi! Funny you should mention this. I just came back from a medical conference where stem cells were being discussed along with other therapies for "antiaging". PRP is being used for a lot of stuff and it does have its uses. I worked 14 years with platelet derived growth factors (Procuren, Regranex). Procuren is autologous platelet derived growth factors, Regranex (beclapermin) is recombinant platelet derived growth factors. They are, essentially, signaling proteins. They can stimulate local tissues, the question is, to do what and how much. Stem cells are better, because they can differentiate into structural as well as functional cells. Fat, when processed correctly, has a high percentage of stem cells. It is, in my opinion, superior to PRP because it has the endogenous building blocks (fat), as well as pluripotent cells to do whatever is necessary. By the way, stem cells have may beneficial neurologic effects, but I would never dream of treating nerve related disorders with stem cells, as that is not my area of expertise. Any Doctor with expertise treating orthopedic/musculoskeletal conditions who ventures into treating a totally different area because he has a tool that "works" is, by definition, out of his area of expertise. At that convention I mentioned above, a doctor came to me to talk about PRP for esthetic applications. I told him I preferred fat. His astonished answer was, You can inject fat like that? Yes, I can. He followed with Who else uses fat? Well, most plastic surgeons! Yet, there are many doctors working outside their area of expertise out there, happily injecting PRP into unsuspecting patients who trust their judgement because they're doctors.
  • Jaime says:

    Dear Dr. Rodriguez, This is to request permission to print your story "Is stem cell facelift a new phenomenon?" that was posted on 14 Apr 2009 on Your story will be printed with your photo as author, a short bio about you at the end of the story, and your website address, in Medica Tourism magazine, a monthly magazine in Bangkok, Thailand, which is distributed free to help readers with information about the medical tourism industry. I'd be happy to mail you a copy of the magazine. Yours truly, Jaime Alfredo Cabrera Editor, Medica Tourism Magazine 12-I Ocean Insurance Building 163 Suriwong Road, Bangkok, Thailand Phone: 02-236-5399 Fax: 02-236-5398
  • Suzi Savino says:

    My sister has Parkinsons. Because so many people are against using stemcells, because they come from infant stemcells. Would it be useful, using adult stem cells, or should I say, successful, with adult cells being used? I would love to hear from you, regarding this process, since, so many people are against using "infant" stem cells. Thanks so much
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      The most exciting research in stem cells is now coming from "Adult Stem Cells" collected from the patients own body. I am particularly interested in fat cells as they are abundant in the body. There are several clinics overseas which are treating Parkinson's with the patients own stem cells, bu tthe techniques aren't quite refined yet. I do think that we are only a couple of years away from making significant improvements in treatment of Parkinson's. Check out this link for information from the NIH (National Institute of Health) about clinical trials and stem cells.
  • Katie says:

    Stem cells have the power to restore beauty, heal damaged tissues, and the potential to treat and cure some diseases. I think it true and the benefits are countless. Only concern is what about side effects ?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      In the case of stem cells not manipulated or treated other than in reinjection (which is what I do) there are no reports of "side effects". I suppose that as people try to get more involved with techniques such as getting cells to differentiate into other cell lines there might be unexpected results, but so far, nothing that is raising concerns.
  • Psychologist says:

    using stem cells from patients' own body fat. Why not? The patients own DNA is already there. It's compatible. Dead baby bodies have their own DNA. Like any organ transplant, they'd be rejected without a life time of medication.