Giving your Fat a Better Use – Take II: Stem Cells – Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre

Giving your Fat a Better Use – Take II: Stem Cells

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December 20, 2013
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April 9, 2014

If you have read our previous article on Autologous Fat Transfer (and if you didn’t, here’s your chance), you might have felt that there was something missing in this big picture of Fat Grafts, to actually make of this procedure a “trend setter”. In spite of the unquestionable advantages of using your own body material and the interestingly natural results obtained, all the cost and time involved in achieving and keeping them would hardly make of this an ideal solution. And so it was… until recently.  Sit tight while we present you to the piece of the puzzle that will make of this procedure a game changer in the cosmetic medical industry. Take note on Stem Cell Enriched Fat Graft.  A Stem Cell is considered an immature cell, meaning that, it is a cell that as yet no “specifications”, having the ability to reproduce and develop into other types of cell in your body. Therefore, they can be used to reconstruct lost or new tissue, because they can be induced to take on different “specialities”, such as, becoming new fat tissue.  Being special types of cells, they are also responsible for the good health of their surrounding environment, being involved in the healing and regeneration of the tissues, stimulating the growth of new blood vessels, essential for the tissues survival. Moreover, according to several surgeons that have been studying and experimenting with this premise on the Fat Graft procedure, when more Stem Cells are added to the Fat Graft, the percentage of survival and longevity of the material climbs to remarkable figures of up to 81% of the injected material, instead of the normal average of only 40%. In an adult, there are limited body areas from which stem cell can be collected. It might seem incredible, but our adipose tissue is not only one of the tissues richer in this type of cells, but is also the one that is more easy to collect (simpler than bone marrow for example). Do these facts mean every Fat Graft is a Stem Cell Enriched Graft? No – explanation to come. Although the fat tissue is richer than other tissues in Stem Cells, the normal concentration of these cells in the portion of fat collected for the graft is still small. In order to reach the desired results mentioned above, the concentration of Stem Cells in the injected fat needs to be higher – in fact much higher.  Therefore, Stem Cell enrichment is undertaken during the normal process of collection and treatment of the fat for injection. How it works: The fat is still collected from a simple liposuction process (low suction, no laser or other disruptive assistance method) but the quantity of fat collected is higher. One part of the fat is purified and reserved. The other part of the fat will be used for Stem Cell collection only. Specialized medical companies have been developing equipment specialized in identifying, collecting and treating the stem cells from the fat. When this process is completed, the purified strained Stem Cells are then combined with the previously extracted fat, which is now ready to be injected into targeted locations of the recipient. The concentration of Stem Cells will now be much higher, leading to the concept of Enriched Fat Graft. The enriched fat has now an enhanced capability to grow tissue and systems that guarantee survival of the cells in their new body location, making the  survival rate much higher and permanent (while still following the normal systems of your body regarding ageing or weight loss), bringing a whole new dimension to this treatment. The ASAPS (American Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) has made clear its position on Stem Cell Fat Graft in August 2011. You can read it here. It is evident that this treatment is still very new and that further study and results are needed to be considered before a FDA approval stamp. Still, ASPS declares it “enthusiastically supports development of (…) an evidence base in the utilization of Stem Cells in reconstructive and aesthetic procedures”,  supporting the work of many scientists and surgeons around the globe “assessing the safety and efficacy of stem cells therapies in aesthetic medicine” and believe in the high potential of this technique. Researchers from the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, who have been conducting regular studies in this field, believe that Stem Cell Enriched Fat Grafting might prove to be an attractive alternative to major tissue augmentation like breast reconstruction after cancer trauma, with fewer side effects and more satisfying aesthetic results. If properly explored, this technique might even dramatically change the face of Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery, for good.Have a question? Ask here. Please leave your comment!

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