Stem Cell Therapy

Stem Cells At A Glance

  • Best Results1-3+ sessions
  • Treatment Recovery1-9 days
  • Procedure Time30 to 60 min
  • Skin SpecialistDermatologist
  • Duration of ResultsYears (variable)
  • AnaestheticSedation, local
  • Back to WorkNext day to 3 days
  • Cost$$-$$$$

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is a relatively new form of skin rejuvenation that has undergone many revisions over the years. Stem cells are sourced from adipose tissue, hence the name ASC or adipose stem cells. Harvesting, processing & transplantation techniques are unique to the science of stem cell therapy. This field of medicine is still at its infancy, I do believe there will be an exponential growth in the upcoming decade.

FactsFacts on Stem Cell Therapy

  • Stems are derived from adipose tissue, a term called Adipose Stem Cells
  • Careful processing of fat yields stem cells along with adipose tissue
  • Stems are a natural way of rejuvenating skin & providing volume
  • Recent advances in the past few years have given rise to stem cell therapy
  • Acne scars can be treated with this method
  • Stems & volume from autologous fat last longer than dermal fillers
  • The biggest drawback is the variable resorption rates of grafting
  • Skin quality can be improved, however better results are obtained from lasers & medium to deep chemical peels

What is the science behind stem cell therapy?

Stem cells are engineered to differentiate into different types of cells, including fibroblasts (collagen), keratinocytes (skin) as well as adipose tissue (fat). Adipose stem cells or ASC are usually harvested from areas such as the abdomen, flanks & legs. These are processed to yield different fat stem cell sources including macro fat, micro fat & nano fat. Once purified, these stems are reintroduced into different sites including the face & neck.

We are a long way off commercial stem cell therapy…I reckon we will be there is 2 or more decades time.

What conditions can stem cell transfer treat?

The two major conditions I treat with stems are skin rejuvenation & acne scarring. Adipose stem cells have the ability to regenerate into other cells including fibroblasts. These cells produce collagen. Additionally, fat also acts as a volumetric filler, replacing natural fat that diminishes with time.

Skin rejuvenation: Corrects volume loss (macro & micro fat), improves skin quality, wrinkles, & skin luminosity (nano fat).

Acne scars: Improves volume loss due to atrophic scars (macro & micro fat). Can also address superficial acne scars including boxcar, linear, pick & misc. scars (nano fat).

Surgical scars: including depressed scars, atrophic scars, surgical scars.

Hand rejuvenation: replaces volume (fat transfer), hiding veins & tendons. Adipose stem cells can also improve skin quality.

“Cutting edge” commercial stems have a feel good vibe when applied.

What are the PROS of stem cell transplantation & transfer?

There are 4 positive points regarding adipose stem cells;

  1. Natural, you can’t get more natural than transferring your own fat cells. This is known as autologous transfer.
  2. Volume. I can easily harvest 50ml of tissue in a short period of time, equivalent to 50 syringes of dermal filler. If 50% of the tissue survives, we still have 25 ml of fat in the recipient site. Fat grafting with stem cell transfer is ideal for patients who are volume depleted.
  3. Longevity of graft. As mentioned, once past the 4 to 6 months mark, adipose tissue will usually remain for many years to come. This compares favourably to dermal fillers with a relatively short duration of action.
  4. Improvement in skin quality. As stems can differentiate to different cell types including collagen producing fibroblasts as well as new skin cells.Davin-lim-scar-doctor

What are the CONS of stem cell transfer?

Predictability of volume retention. This is by far the most important factor in transplantation. Despite optimal processing, harvesting & injecting techniques, fat volume retention is variable. If I inject say, 10 mls of fat, approximately 5-6.5 ml will be left at the 6 month mark. Past this point, the majority of fat will remain for many years. It is just the initial phase that is less predictable. The flipside of course is that the other half of fat transfer remains; glass half full or half empty. If you are more of a half empty type thinker, possible fat transfer is not a good treatment for you.

Davin’s Viewpoint on Stem Cell Therapy

Over the past 4 years there has been a huge increase in stem cell research. This field of dermatology is different from adipose tissue transplantation or transfer. Fat transfer, (example butt lifts), uses large molecules of fat, with very little care in preservation of stem cells (adipose stem cells).Careful extraction of fat, processing & meticulous injecting increases survival rate of adipose stems.

I do believe that there will be improvements in the next few years to help preserve & even proliferate pluripotent stems. There are many combinations of this therapy including PRP enriched, filler enriched as well as surfactant added transplants. The ideal candidate for stems are patients in good health with a stable weight who require large volumes of greater than 15 to 20 mls for correction.

For predictable small volume correction, I still prefer dermal fillers. The latter has an extremely high predictive value, as well as finesse.

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