Recently I was lucky enough to have Dr John Flynn perform what is commonly thought of as a ‘stem cell facelift’ on me.
In fact, I didn’t have the facelift component – he simply injected the stem cells into my facial skin.
Apparently this could give me a 5–8 year boost on my skin aging. There’s no real evidence yet that these procedures will work, however, so only time will tell.
The goal is to try and ‘re-boot’ my skin’s performance when it comes to cell turnover (the process by which our skin produces new skin cells) and my ability to produce new collagen and elastin, which are vital to healthy skin.
What is a stem cell facelift?
Stem cell therapy is a relatively new technique to add volume and/or reduce wrinkles and sagging in facial skin.
Stem cells are elements in our body that stimulate other cells into action – in this case tightening the skin, renewing skin cells and improving collagen production.
Unlike a surgical facelift, which lifts and repositions tissues, stem cell therapy simply helps the skin rejuvenate itself.
Everyone’s stem cells are unique, so the procedure involves extracting stem cells from one part of your body and adding them to your face.
And don’t worry: adding stem cells doesn’t mean you grow an extra nose on your face or anything. The stem cells respond to and stimulate the cells around them, meaning if you add them to the face they will only cause natural processes to occur.
If you used another person’s stem cells, your body would treat them as foreign bodies and destroy them.
I interviewed Dr John Flynn before the procedure, and you can check out the video below.
What effect does a stem cell facelift have on the face?
Often you will undergo a stem cell facelift to add volume to your skin. Specifically, this involves combining the stem cells with fat and injecting them into targeted areas.
If, however, you want to achieve a tighter skin texture, rather than volume, you use stem cells on their own.
In both cases, you should see visibly younger looking skin soon after treatment.
What to expect during the procedure
There are two parts to the stem cell therapy treatment, requiring two separate visits to the clinic.
The first visit: Extract stem cells through a fat harvesting procedure.
The practitioner will apply a local anaesthetic to the abdomen or upper part of the buttocks, which are typically where they will take fat from.
They extract fat using a needle and send it to the laboratory. The lab will then separate the fat from the stem cells.
This typically takes a couple of weeks, as it checks the sample for infections and the stem cells for viability.
(Experts recommend you choose a practitioner who manually checks stem cell viability, as they believe automated checks can return false results.)
The laboratory will then stimulate the stem cells to increase in number.
Here’s a video of Dr John Flynn performing the fat harvesting procedure on me. Be warned: if you have a queasy stomach then don’t watch it.
The second visit: Inject stem cells into your face.
Once the laboratory has produced a sufficient number of stem cells, you will return to the clinic where the doctor will inject them into the target areas of your face.
Watch Dr John Flynn performing the stem cell injection procedure on me. This isn’t as confronting as the above procedure, but if you don’t like needles maybe give it a miss.
What to expect after the stem cell facelift
Following the treatment, your face may sting somewhat, and might be a bit red or tender for a few days.
There can also be pinpoint bleeding from the injection sites, but this will usually settle within 24 hours.
If you notice excessive swelling or bruising, this is usually the result of an inexperienced practitioner and can be easily remedied.
I had bruising for a few days following the stem cell facelift, but with a bit of makeup I felt comfortable going out in public.
You should notice improvements in skin volume and texture within 2–3 days of the procedure.
You should also follow your normal skincare regimen following the procedure.
Stem cell therapy is a relatively recent addition to facial skincare; there are no long-term studies on its effects, but practitioners suggest they could last between five and eight years.
Last Reviewed: 18-Sep-2016