Research into the use of stem cells in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery could produce promising results, plastic surgeons have claimed.
Denis English, editor-in-chief of the journal Stem Cells and Development and director of cell biology at the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida in Tampa, said that there was "therapeutic promise" in hair follicular stem cells, tooth stem cells and skin stem cells.
"These can restore hair to a bald man, teeth to those in need and skin to scarred patients," he told ABC News.
Texas plastic surgeon Dr Ronald Friedman said that stem cell research "appears promising … for plastic surgery", although most medical experts emphasise that the main research will be focused on reconstructive and potentially life-saving applications, rather than on cosmetic surgery for aesthetic purposes.
Commenting on the possibilities for stem cells in cosmetic applications, Dr Daniel Salomon of California's Scripps Research Institute told ABC News: "In our society, there is a such a huge demand for these rejuvenation surgeries, despite their significant risks, that the pragmatist in me cannot deny the likelihood that it will not be long before someone offers a two-stage procedure starting with liposuction followed by injection of these autologous stem cells for breast augmentation or into the face to rejuvenate."
However, he added that applications to enhance personal appearance were "much harder to justify at this point" than reconstructive applications and would be "driven more by market forces in affluent countries…rather than by science".