Romberg’s Disease aka Hemifacial Atrophy


This is an uncommon syndrome that affects the craniofacial structures of the face. It is seen relatively infrequently amongst surgeons and the phenotypic effects vary from minor wasting and hollowing out of the cheeks or buccal tissues to a more significant depression and sunken in appearance of one side of the face. There may be associated paralysis of the scarred facial muscles and nerves and loss of the subcuticular fat of the face including forehead, eye sockets and upper neck. 

In the past treatment has been aimed at restoring tissue via grafts or sometimes the use of alloplasts to build out the sunken in appearance. The use of grafts may be free or vascularised and depends upon the surgeons and patients goals. In general both of these grafts may experience either a considerable or lesser degree of resorption or loss of the graft. There is no satisfactory cure.

The aetiology of Romberg's disease is not known. It is not life threatening. It could have some relation to an autoimmune condition such as scleroderma or a trigeminal nerve neuritis. 


There are published papers on the use and effectiveness of stem cells combined with fat grafting. The adipocytes in the graft themselves generally have a nature of atrophy on transplantation so you lose approximately 50-70% of the volume. By combining the administration topically, locally and intravenously of stem cells we are encouraging the differentiation of these cells into more adipocytes. Remember that Romberg's disease is progressive so even though the immediate effect may look good it will undoubtedly shrink with time as the surrounding tissue also shrinks. The use of stem cells may diminish the rate of shrinkage and the volume lost. All craniofacial surgeons are taught to overbuild the face to account for loss and shrinkage. We would undertake the surgery to graft the face with free fat at The American Heart Hospital and the subsequent infusions and injections of stem cells at Poseidonia Healthcare. The use of free fat grafts is undertaken widely by cosmetic surgeons in respect of breast enlargement and the ‘brazilian butt lift’, craniofacial surgeons use fat for facial aesthetics and rebuilding contours for patients suffering from Rombergs. 


The diagnosis and treatment of Romberg's disease can be challenging. It is a major cause of concern by both women and men at mostly the early and middle years of life. The use of stem cells should be reserved for those patients having simultaneous free or vascularised grafts. Prior to consideration of stem cells you would need to undergo the treatment of mini liposuction and IV stem cell injection and infusion.

At we pride ourselves on ensuring patients know the team diagnosing and conducting their stem cell therapy. Professor Russell Vickers is the lead specialist, working within a team of specialist surgeons and doctors.

Important questions that patients should ask of any treating clinicians and facility:

  • Are my treating doctors specialist surgeons/doctors and stem cell experts?
  • How many publications and research based studies have they published in peer reviewed journals?
  • Can they augment stem cell therapy with the known benefits of adjunctive therapy? is Europes premier stem cell organisation guided by evidence based medicine and clinical research.

Our founding director, Professor Russell Vickers PhD, MDsc, M Med, MA, FFPM (ANZCA) is an Australian and New Zealand board registered surgeon with over 100 publications, books and thousands of invited lectures and presentations on stem cells, pain, peptide synthesis and biochemistry. Professor Vickers is the leader of a family team of surgeons assisting him including Dr Peter Vickers, MD, FRCS (Edinburgh), FRACDS, Dr Richard Vickers, MD, FRCS (England, Glasgow, Ireland), FRACDS (OMS) and Dr Jessica Vickers, MD, MCOM, BA/BN as co-ordinator.

This medical summary has been written by Professor Vickers and his family team of specialist consultants.

It has been written by medically qualified writers.

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