4-Hour, Whole-Body 'Face-Lift' Uses Patient's Own Fat, Stem Cells

ABC News' Paula Faris reports:

It is a medical claim that sounds like science fiction.  Walk into a plastic surgeon's office for a face-lift and walk out roughly four hours later with a whole-body makeover that required no incision and leaves you with no scars.

But some doctors say that fiction is now reality in the form of a stem-cell makeover, a procedure that uses the fat and stem cells from one part of the body to revamp another part of the body, all in a single office visit.

Such a claim convinced Debra Kerr to try the procedure herself in hopes of achieving a younger look. "My eyes are looking heavier, and the lines are so pronounced and gravity's really taken over," Kerr, 55,  said.  "I want to look as good and as young as I really feel."

Kerr, a skin-care specialist from Ohio, underwent a stem-cell makeover in which fat was removed from her waist via liposuction.  The fat was then spun in the lab to concentrate its stem cells and, hours later, injected into Kerr's face and breasts.

"We're taking a patient's own fatty tissue, and we are just repositioning it in another part of their body," said Dr. Sharon McQuillan, a physician and founder of the Ageless Institute in Aventura, Fla., where Kerr had her procedure done.

Courtesy Dr. Sharon McQuillan

Because the makeover uses a patient's own stem cells, there is virtually no risk that the body will reject the transfer, according to doctors like McQuillan who perform the procedure.

"This enhancement will be enough to make her [Kerr] happy," McQuillan said.  "She won't have any scars.  She doesn't really have any of the risks associated with general anesthesia or a full face lift."

The procedure takes roughly four hours and costs vary widely. McQuillan said some places on the West Coast and in New York City charge between $10,000 and $15,000 for the procedure.

Experts warn, however, that procedures such as stem-cell makeover need more study to prove that they are safe. Because the stem cells are harvested and inserted into the same patient, and only minimally manipulated in the process, they are not considered drugs and therefore not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For Kerr, the results of her own procedure speak for themselves.

"I'm so happy I don't have to look at that anymore," she said of her "before" picture.  "It's been a natural and subtle face-lift.  I finally feel like I look as good as I feel."