Thoughts of stem cells are often associated with controversy thanks to some narrowly focused media campaigns. Stem cells exist throughout the body, throughout the life of the individual. Cutting edge science is discovering the abundance of stem cells that exist in the fat just under the skin of every adult.
Plastic surgeons have become quite familiar with the characteristics of subcutaneous fat and new techniques allow surgeons to use a patient’s own fat as a substitute for synthetic fillers. Dr. Peter Fodor, a board certified plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills, recently began a study to look at how adult stem cells (removed from fatty tissue via liposuction) help people suffering from poor knee strength, a study that may eventually bring these “magical” cells into aesthetic medicine.
Ahead of the Curve
“We found that subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin) is abundantly rich in stem cells,” says Dr. Fodor. “Two to three hundred times more per volume than bone marrow.”
Dr. Fodor says that stem cells have an innate ability to seek out the source of injury. They act as a sort of white blood cell, capable of repairing and conforming to any part of the body. The study, to which Dr. Fodor refers, focuses on stem cell injections into the joints of the knee.
The knee, one of the simplest joints in the human body, serves as an optimal site for these early experimentations.
The direct injection of stem cells results in an overall improvement of symptoms. Pain is decreased while mobility is increased. Stem cells are also responsible for new cartilage growth, “which is mind-boggling,” says Fodor. “Nothing else has been able to do this.”
Patients’ symptoms are disappearing with such quickness that Dr. Fodor finds himself telling patients to slow down, reminding them not to overdo it despite a sudden dissipation of pain.
Plastic surgeons are already using patients’ own subcutaneous fat to augment certain elective surgeries. Procedures involving the breasts and buttocks are increasingly eschewing the use of synthetic technologies in favor of this natural alternative.
Augmentations and reconstructions are both benefiting from an organic solution that seems to take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. Personal, living cells are effectively allowed to re-invigorate tissue that may have been the target of degeneration.
It seems that the growth of new life can find its inspiration in the injection of a particularly reliable aspect of old life – life that has always been there, just under the surface.
The use of one’s own stem cells, empowered with regenerative abilities, is a major breakthrough in aesthetic plastic surgery, as well as in reconstruction.