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Photo by: CN Digital Studio

They may be the great hope of modern medicine, but stem cells- those blank slates of the body that can turn into nerves, bones, or cartilage-have yet to revolutionize aesthetic surgery. It's been a decade since scientists discovered that fat happens to be loaded with the cells. Almost immediately, surgeons began to claim-with no proof-that the stem cells in fat improved skin quality and started calling fat injections a stem-cell face-lift, says Rod J. Rohrich, chair of plastic surgery at the University of Texas, Southwestern, in Dallas, and the coauthor of a recent paper on the subject. But the idea that fat injections could replace a traditional face-lift is "high on marketing and short on science," Rohrich says. "Stem cells have great promise, but there is so much conjecture." Currently, there is no FDA-approved device to separate stem cells from fat and no consensus on the number of cells needed for rejuvenation or how many treatments are necessary. "We don't

Most Overrated Cosmetic Procedures

Joan Kron, Allure magazine

New cosmetic procedures often fail to live up to their original promise. Some may even do harm. We investigate the innovations that you might want to reconsider.

It wasn't so long ago that a woman with a desire to look younger, slimmer, or simply better would huddle with her doctor in private. Now, one demonstration of a new laser on the Today show, and phones are ringing in dermatologists' and plastic surgeons' offices across the country. More and more patients are demanding the latest treatments the moment they hear about them on the news, in the salon, or over lunch with their best friend. Here's the problem with this pioneer impulse: Plastic surgery's past is crowded with operations that were rushed to the public with insufficient testing, or that proved too painful, or that simply weren't as effective as promised. Take it from us, the most dangerous word in plastic surgery may be "new." And unlike making a mistake by, say, buying a pair of jeggings that aren't entirely flattering, cosmetic procedures are often irreversible. Here, a hard look at the choices.

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