As you may be aware, many patients are requesting fat injections for a Brazilian Butt Lift and other treatments that reuse and recycle their own fat. Fat injections are a great way to use your own fat gathered through liposuction, which is then placed into the butt or face to plump up that area. In the case of the derriere, the patient fills out their clothing and in the case of fat injections to the face, with or without a facelift, a patient’s youthful appearance can be restored.
Will the FDA refuse to allow a Brazilian Butt Lift in the future?
However, the FDA is looking at fat injections and stem cell therapy in general, to determine their safety and possibly limit the use of these therapies. Now, some of what I say from here on out will be through the lens of a plastic surgeon. So my comments may tilt towards, and support, the way I use fat injections vs how the rest of the cosmetic industry uses fat injections and stem cells.
First, a little background. Stem cells are the cells that can differentiate into more specialized cells like muscle or bone or nerve tissue in the embryo. Stem cells are being used in research currently, under FDA supervision, to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and the like. We’re not really talking about how stem cells are being used in those situations. What the FDA is holding a public hearing about later this year, is how fat, which contains stem cells, is being used in promoting “facial rejuvenation” or “anti-aging therapies” without much evidentiary support.
In other words, the ads you see (love this fake ad from a great article in wired.com from 2009) promising the fountain of youth by using stem cells are questionable. There’s no good long-term evidence that any of these treatments work. I’m not saying they don’t work but the FDA is appropriately concerned with charlatans promising their patients a return to youthfulness if the patient allows the “doctor” to inject the patient’s stem cells, along with a proprietary mixture, back into their body. Just on the surface this sounds sketchy. Can you imagine a doctor saying that “I’m going to draw some of your blood, mix it with these unnamed chemicals and then inject it back into your body or joints or face and see what happens!”
So the use of stem cells for anti-aging therapy is questionable from an evidence-based standpoint. Unfortunately, since removing fat and placing it back into the body (as is done with a Brazilian Butt Lift or fat injections to the face) has been lumped into the same category as stem cell therapy, the FDA is also looking at fat injections. Now to be clear, most plastic surgeons are using fat injections as a filler, similar to how you would use Restylane or Juvederm to fill in lines in the face. We’re putting fat into the face, as well as the buttocks. We’re providing the patient with a treatment to volumize these areas. Before and after photos show that what we’re promising – placing fat to restore youthful volume – is being provided. We’re not promising a fountain of youth, we’re not promising anti-aging, we’re not even saying that the stem cells that happen to be in the fat will do anything. We’re only injecting fat to plump up the cheekbones or buttocks. So I don’t think fat injection therapy is as questionable as the promises being made specifically for stem cells.
However, with the FDA holding public hearings on these issues, we have to worry that they will start to disallow fat injections along with stem cell therapy. And if that happens, then you can say bye-bye to your fat injections! Until the FDA rules differently, you can check pricing on fat injections from a board-certified doctor in your area by clicking here!