Regenerative medicine is emerging as a rapidly evolving field of research and therapeutics. Stem cells hold great promise for future translational research and clinical applications in many fields. Much research has focused on mesenchymal stem cells isolated from bone marrow in vitro and in vivo; however, bone marrow procurement causes considerable discomfort to the patient and yields a relatively small number of harvested cells. By contrast, adipose tissue represents an abundant and easily accessible source of adult stem cells, termed adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs), with the ability to equally differentiate along multiple lineage pathways. These stem cells have angiogenic properties, possibly because of their secretion of cytokines. They may also play a role in healing acute and chronic tissue damage. Subsequently, they have a wide range of potential clinical implications. This article reviews the potential preclinical and clinical applications of mesenchymal stem cells, especially ADSCs, in surgery.