The stem cells live inside all of us in various tissues; their job is to repair damage as it occurs. We all know when we have a cut or injury our body repairs itself. As we age or experience big injuries, we may not be able to recruit enough of these cells to the site to fully repair the area
(Tremolada C, Ricordi C, Caplan AI, Ventura C. Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Lipogems, a Reverse Story: from Clinical Practice to Basic Science. Methods Mol Biol. 2016;1416:109-22). The Stem cells procedure helps overcome this problem by extracting your own cells from an area of high volume, then concentrating the cells and re-injecting them into the damaged area to help the body heal naturally.
They are usually combined with non invasive Plastic Surgery procedures to maximize the results, they hydrate/stretch the skin and remodel the collagen/fibronoblasts.
What does the treatment entail? The cells that we’re interested in collecting are called Mesenchymal cells as these cells have naturally regenerative properties, there’s a very high concentration of these cells in your fat tissue, what we call adipose tissue. Quite simply what we do in the stem cells procedure is we remove a really small amount of your fatty tissue from your midsection. We then wash the tissue to get rid of any of the impurities and then re-inject the tissue back in the joint being treated.
What do I need to do to prepare for my treatment? No special preparations are required, apart from making sure you drink plenty of water so you’re well hydrated on the day. Before your appointment, we’ll ask you to update us about your health, including any allergies you may have, and any medications you are taking (e.g. blood thinning medication).
What happens on the day of my procedure? Your stem cells procedure will be carried out at Opsisclinical Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The procedure normally involves having usually a local anesthetic (with sedation), so there is only a short recovery time and you’ll be able to return home the same day.
Treatment with stem cells involves 3 steps Step one- Harvesting: fat is removed from your hip or abdomen. This procedure, which takes around 30 minutes, is usually carried out using a local anesthetic while you are sedated and normally involves making two small incisions (cuts) of about 1cm to enable the fat to be removed using a water-assisted suction tool. Step Two-Processing: the regenerative cells are separated from your fat tissue. Your cells aren’t changed in any way and no other chemicals are added. Step Three-Implantation: your adipose cells are injected.
What should I expect afterwards? Stem cells adipose therapy is a day case procedure, after which you’ll be able to return home. Immediately after your treatment, you will be carefully monitored, to make sure that you are feeling well and the incision sites are healing correctly. Most people don’t need to have stitches to close the incisions which should heal naturally and will be covered with an absorbent dressing pad and compression wrap for 24-48 hours after the procedure. Before you leave, you’ll be given information about caring for your wound and a follow-up appointment date. You’ll also be given advice on post-operative medications.
How much fat do you remove? It’s a very small amount of fat, around 50ml, around the size of a "capuccino cup".
What is the recovery time like? There is a minimal recovery time associated with the procedure. We say that patients should take it easy 2-3 days post procedure. Post-op patients will experience a dull aching pain in the joint for 2-3 days, however the pain is not debilitating and can be managed with regular strength painkillers. We say that patients are then usually back to full activity within 5 days and the full effects of the treatment are felt within 5 weeks.
What are the risks and side effects? There have been no serious reported side-effects. However, as with any other injection, you may have some mild to moderate swelling at the affected sites. Stem cells treatment involves using only your own fatty tissue, with no other substances added. This means that the chances of infection or reaction to the treatment are significantly reduced. The treatment is carried out using a sterile technique; however, as with any injection or procedure, there is a slight risk of infection.
Why do you harvest the stem cells from the fat tissue and not from the bone marrow? The harvesting of stem cells from bone marrow is an invasive treatment, conducted under general anesthetic that can be very painful. The mesenchymal cells present in the fat tissue are easier and less painful to access. There is also research to show that the quality of stem cells in bone marrow decreases significantly as you get older, especially in women. Age and gender has no effect on the quality of stem cells present in fat tissue.
I am traveling from outside of Greece; will it be possible to have my Consultation and procedure on the same day? Yes, if we are given enough notice we can occasionally arrange for you to have your consultation and procedure on the same day.