Position statement of plastic surgery professional societies on use of stem cell term and fat grafting

by Alexey Bersenev on August 3, 2011 · 2 comments

in adipose, consensus, educational

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Recently I wrote about use of “Stem Cell” label as a marketing tool. I really worry about this issue. I believe, that widespread use of incorrect terms by professionals and absence of consensus is a part of this complex problem:

I am really puzzled by the widespread use of the term “stem cells” for the cell therapies utilized total mononuclear cell (MNC) fraction of bone marrow or cord blood. Physicians love to call it “stem cell therapy” when they use bone marrow MNC, even though they have no evidence whatsoever what type of cells underlie the therapeutic effects. The presence of stem cells in the cell suspension that you injecting into the patient, does not make it “stem cell therapy”!

I wonder why professionals can’t come to consensus and use the same language? By not doing it they are fueling marketers and mass media with misleading statements. Marketers are very good at picking up “stem cell in the title mistakes” and transforming it in profitable business.

The same thing apply to plastic and aesthetic surgery. Physicians consider fat grafting (processed or non-processed) as a “stem cell procedure” and widely advertise it.

Now, I want to quote the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) position statement on stem cells and fat grafting:

  • Terms such as “stem cell therapy” or “stem cell procedure” should be reserved to describe those treatments or techniques where the collection, concentration, manipulation, and therapeutic action of the stem cells is the primary goal, rather than a passive result, of the treatment. For example, standard fat grafting procedures that do transfer some stem cells naturally present within the tissue should be described as fat grafting procedures, not stem cell procedures.
  • The marketing and promotion of stem cell procedures in aesthetic surgery is not adequately supported by clinical evidence at this time.
  • While stem cell therapies have the potential to be beneficial for a variety of medical applications, a substantial body of clinical data to assess plastic surgery applications still needs to be collected. Until further evidence is available, stem cell therapies in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery should be conducted within clinical studies under Institutional Review Board approval, including compliance with all guidelines for human medical studies.
  • The collection and reporting of data on outcomes and safety by any physician performing stem cell therapies is strongly encouraged in order to advance the knowledge and science of stem cells.
  • Stem cell based procedures should be performed in compliance with FDA regulatory guidelines. If devices are employed that are subject to regulation by the FDA, surgeons should use these devices with appropriate approval in place, especially when used for investigational purposes.
  • Patients are advised to seek consultation for aesthetic procedures by a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. These physicians are able to properly evaluate a patient’s concerns and offer a wide range of safe solutions. Extreme caution should be exercised when a physician is promising results from any treatment that sound too good to be true.

(Credit: American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery)

I love this! The significance of this statement:

  1. This is an example of how professional societies should handle a problem of “uncontrolled stem cell marketing”.
  2. This statement will guide professionals, working in the field.
  3. This statement will protect patients from “marketing scam”.
  4. Very brief, clear and freely available for both – professionals and public.

Please spread this guys!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

GB August 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

This piece needs to be edited-badly! Grammar and verb conjugation are in need of help. Why don’t people check this stuff before putting it on line?

Example: “Recently I’ve wrote about” in the opening sentence. If you cannot write correctly is not what you say specious? It should say,” Recently I wrote” or ” I had written.” This is similar to people saying ‘I had went’ instead of the simple phrase-I went or I had gone. I have heard lawyers, writers and doctors speaking on TV make these mistakes. Yikes!


Alexey Bersenev August 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Thanks for feedback.
I admit that grammar is my weak part. Would you like to contribute to the project? I assume you like something about this blog. SCA is a collaborative project and I always welcome contributes.


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