The Role of Adipose-derived Stem Cells In Reconstructive Surgery
The use of stem cells in regenerative medicine is not new, especially to treat tissue defects or injury. However, the advancement of technique for harvesting and refining adipose tissue (fat tissue) has unlocked revolutionary new applications for stem cells derived from fat. Autologous fat transfer can be utilized in reconstructive surgery as a minimally invasive way of delivering stem cell therapy.
Analogous Fat Transfer Explained
The process of removing fat tissue from one part of the body and injecting it into another part is called autologous fat transfer. This procedure has been used for decades in cosmetic and plastic surgery. This minimally invasive technique uses the body’s own cells, reducing the risks of complications due to immunogenicity. For people who are especially wary of artificial fillers, autologous fat transfer is an attractive solution for body contouring or other aesthetic procedure.
Why Use Adipose-derived Stem Cells?
Stem cells are unique in that they are unspecialized and can regenerate through cell division- either into more stem cells or further developing into specialized cells. No other cell in the body possesses these capabilities. Considered one of the best natural healing agents in existence, stem cell therapy plays a role in a multitude of musculoskeletal applications. Due to ethical concerns of harvesting embryonic stem cells, scientists have found ways to use adult stem cells (mesenchymal cells) instead. Adult stem cells exist in tissues like bone marrow and fat. Originally researchers thought that adult stem cells had limited capacity to turn into different types of cells. However, now studies show that they do provide benefit for many medical applications, especially orthopedic conditions like degenerative joint disease (DJD), tendinopathies, rotator cuff injuries, and degenerative disc disease (DDDz).
Still, challenges harvesting adult stem cells persist. Retrieval from bone marrow is invasive, and harvesting stem cells can be inconsistent. And while liposuction is a common method of fat retrieval, historically it also damages the cells in the process beyond viability. That is, until the BeautiFILL came to market. With this system, we are able to harvest fat cells with a 95% viability rate. Fat cells remain intact to offer stem cell therapy and volume enhancement once injected. As a result, adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) benefit a variety of musculoskeletal, plastic, cosmetic, and reconstructive surgery procedures.
Benefits of ASCs In Reconstructive Surgery
Using ASCs in reconstructive surgery offers a unique approach to soft tissue repair, utilizing the body’s own healing power. Plus, we can conveniently harvest these cells in an outpatient procedure. ASCs demonstrate benefits when used in treating osteoarthritis, soft tissue injury, trauma, non-healing wounds, and signs of aging. More and more, doctors appreciate the application of adipose-derived stem cells in tissue reconstruction because of the biocompatibility and low risk of side effects. With the enhanced healing ability of the stem cells, patients see improved outcomes.