Adipose Tissue

Stem cells are the body’s unspecialized cells that have the ability to multiply and differentiate into other cell types. They are present in the human embryo, where they differentiate and divide to form the various tissues of the body. They later get distributed throughout the body in specific pockets of tissues such as the bone marrow, blood and adipose tissue (fat), and function to renew old and worn out tissue cells.

Adipose tissue has a high concentration of stem cells and is easy to harvest, so it is often used as an orthobiologic.

Indications

Adipose tissue is used as an orthobiologic to renew and repair diseased or damaged tissue. It may be used to treat various degenerative conditions of the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle, and spine as well as muscle, ligament, tendon and bone-related injuries.

Procedure

A suitable area for extracting fat, either from the abdomen, buttock or thigh, is chosen and anesthetized. An adequate amount of fat is obtained from just below the skin with the help of a small cannula. The extracted fat is centrifuged to obtain a concentrate of fat stem cells. Blood is then drawn and a concentrate of blood platelets, which contains a high level of growth factors, is usually separated. A mixture of the fat-derived stem cells and the growth factors is then returned to the body through an intravenous line or directly injected into the area to be treated.  When targeting deep tissues, stem cell injection is guided by live imaging studies. The procedure takes about an hour after which you may return to your regular activities.

Post-Operative Care

You may experience some soreness at the injection sites. Recovery varies depending on the site of injection, but in most cases you will leave the facility in a few hours and are able to return to work in 2 or 3 days.

Advantages & Disadvantages

The advantages of using adipose tissue includes:

  • Stem cells are easily harvested from adipose tissue through a less painful and minimally invasive technique with minimal risk to the patient.
  • Due to the high concentration of stem cells in adipose tissue, the harvested cells do not have to be cultured to increase their numbers.
  • Adipose tissue-derived stem cells have an increased potential for regeneration of blood vessels which helps carry oxygen and nutrients necessary for tissue healing.
  • It is a safe process without the risk of cell rejection or transmission of diseases as the fat cells are removed from owns own body.

Risks and complications

Regenerative therapy using adipose tissue is generally considered a safe procedure with minimal complications, however, as with any medical procedure, complications that can occur include:

  • Infection of the tissues while aspirating or injecting stem cells
  • Contamination during the preparation process