Last summer at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, bio-ethicist Arthur Caplan gave a lecture about why the desire to live longer and look better is not immoral.  The lecture included some interesting perspectives on the future of cosmetic surgery and anti-aging.

Early on in the speech, Caplan recalls a story about a woman who had received harsh criticism for getting a facelift.  A younger female counterpart said of her, “that’s terrible, you should simply accept the changes [of aging] as they come.”  For Caplan, this attitude reflects a certain “puritanical” attitude toward medical technology and the possibilities it holds for humanity.

In his broad philosophical argument, Caplan presents many reasons why we should use medical technology and pursue new discoveries in the science of stem cells.  If we push for adequate funding and achieve public approval, it may be possible for us to achieve methods of whole-body anti aging, through the regenerative capabilities of stem cells.

The lecture can be found here on Minnesota Public Radio.

Although fat grafting to for breast augmentation is already being performed by a New York plastic surgeon, further study has been inspired by the recent work of a Japanese plastic surgeon, and a device to combine harvested fat with stem cells has been developed by San Diego company, Cytori Therapeutics Inc.

With the recent discovery that fat is rich in stem cells, the possibility of grafting it to different parts of the body is becoming a reality. Surgeons are rethinking the idea of fat transplantation for use in breast augmentation procedures. In this type of breast augmentation, stem cells are harvested from the patient’s own fat stores, so the controversial aspect commonly associated with stem cells is not relevant.

New York plastic surgeon Dr. Sydney Coleman, an international expert in fat grafting, claims he has been using fat in breast augmentations for years and once published his findings in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. A Japanese surgeon has reportedly been performing breast augmentation procedures using stem cell fortified fat from the patient’s body.

The reason this process hasn’t been established as a reliable option is the tendency for fat to die once it enters another part of the body. Fat can then calcify and turn hard. With stem cells, the theory is that a new blood vessels will form and bond with the reintroduced tissue, creating what might be considered a ‘natural implant.’

The Wall Street Journal reported that San Diego based Cytori Therapeutics Inc. has been marketing a device for combining fat with stem cells to other countries and has intentions to do so in the US. Cytori has begun working with plastic surgeons in Japan, Israel, Italy and France who are using its device, and has given Dr. Sydney Coleman a unit for testing.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s research arm is recruiting patients for a breast augmentation study at ClinicalTrials.gov.