Regenerative medicine is a new, rapidly evolving field in medicine and surgery. It allows practitioners to harvest and concentrate a patient’s own healing abilities and place the tissue concentrate into damaged or aged tissues and organs to heal, and in many ways, to regenerate the tissues to a healthier, and many times chronologically younger state.
Common donor sites for tissue harvest include blood for PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), bone marrow, and the subcutaneous (fatty) layer in the skin for stem or progenitor cells, adipose cells, extra cellular matrix, mesenchyme stem cells and pericytes. As important as the living cells are for tissue regeneration and healing, the growth factors released are key messengers to promote tissue repair, grow new blood vessels and skin cells, and the matrix to holding all of the tissue structures and cells in place.
Interestingly, adipose (fat) tissue has been calculated to contain up to 2,500 times more stem cells than bone marrow, and therefore is a rich, easily accessible source for regenerative tissue. The platelets in your blood do release growth factors, attract stem cells and causes a mild inflammation that trigger the healing cascade. The tissue harvested and concentrated from human fat is commonly called the SVF, or Stromal Vascular Fraction.
Human adipose tissue is also used for what is commonly called fat or micro fat grafting, to restore and rejuvenate the volume loss associated with facial aging and aging in other body regions, including the hands. We as plastic surgeons, use fat grafting to restore traumatic or cancer related deformities, poor healing, radiation fibrosis and scarring. Adipose tissue can also be further refined into various forms and concentrations of the SVF (Stromal Vascular Fraction) for more specific applications, such as improving the structure, nature and aesthetics of aging tissue. Both PRP and SVF concentrates also improve the “take” of micro fat grafting for aesthetic and reconstructive treatments.
The refinement of human adipose into a more pure or concentrated form of SVF can be done enzymatically or mechanically. ALMI (Autologous Lipocyte Micronized Injection) or nano-fat, is human adipose tissue that has been mechanically processed to contain concetrated stem cells and growth factors, eliminating the much larger adipocytes (mature fat) cells when they are not needed restore significant volume in treated tissues, but deliver extraordinary rejuvenative power.
With regenerative medicine, the intrinsic regenerative properties of a patient’s cells and tissues are used to stimulate and supplement the body’s natural healing processes. It can shorten the natural healing cascade by increasing healing potential at the site of injury.
So, simply stated, regenerative medicine principles and techniques give a physician and surgeon the ability to concentrate and purify a patient’s intrinsic healing potential, and transfer to sites needing tissue regenerative stimulus.
Concentrated adipose (fat) tissue has the highest biologic value of tissues studied to date, because it delivers a natural scaffold (extra cellular support tissues), and a high concentration of mesenchymal stem cells and numerous growth factors.
The hierarchy of treatments available to patients can be individualized depending on anatomy, tissue health, patient needs and desires, tolerances and cost of the treatments. Regenerative medicine therapies are synergistic with surgery and laser treatments, and certainly compliment and enhance the results of off the shelf fillers, such as Juvederm and Radiesse.