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Fat Cells (Lipogems)

Fat Cells

Dr. Kennedy and his team have been in the forefront of investigating and utilizing fat cells and their derivatives in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. In the United States the only product derived from fat that the FDA will allow us to use is micronized adipose tissue. (MAT) Adipose tissue (or fat cells) are typically taken from the patient’s abdomen, but may be taken from the flanks or buttocks while the patients is in the operating room. Newer techniques allow this to be performed in the clinic under local anesthetic. Fat cells are mechanically broken down to reveal pericytes or stem cells, as well as a stromovascular fraction (SVF). Growth factors, anti-inflammatory and stem cells are in abundance in fat cells and have been used to treat a plethora of conditions. There are different types of fat cells including: cultured fat stem cells, enzymatically cleaved stem cells, as well as mechanically agitated tissue with fat system cells or pericytes. It acts as an immune modulator and chondroprotective agent. Fat may be used for the same conditions as listed for PRP and CBMA.

What is Lipogems?

Lipogems is a regenerative medicine treatment which harvests adipose tissue (fat) from your own body and processes it via a unique system into an injectable substance with remarkable healing and regenerative properties. It may be used to treat various orthopedic, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and autoimmune conditions.

How does Lipogems Work?

Fat contains a high percentage of stem cells which are undifferentiated cells that may regenerate and multiply forming tissue when necessary. Conventional stem cell treatments isolate these stem cells and inject them into areas that require healing or repair. Many stem cells, however, die in the process due to lack of a supportive environment. Lipogems uses a special device that preserves the fat environment which contains cells such as pericytes and cytokines that support and direct the activity of stem cells. During the process, the adipose tissue is fragmented to release cells and certain residues that promote inflammation are removed. No enzymes are used at all and a sterile saline solution helps minimize damage to the cellular products.

Lipogems Procedure

For the procedure, your doctor first selects a site for fat extraction. The area is injected with a mixture of anesthetic and saline.

After the area is sufficiently anesthetized, about 50-120 cc of fat is extracted, depending on how much is needed.

There is no visible change in appearance at the donor site. The fat is then processed in the Lipogems device which takes about 20 minutes.

It is then drawn into syringes and injected into areas that require healing and regeneration. The entire procedure takes about 90 minutes.

Benefits of Lipogems?

1. Protects Healthy Cartilage: The micro-fragmented fat cells contain mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and other regenerative components. These cells have the potential to protect healthy cartilage in arthritic joints. Lipogems has the capability to stimulate cartilage regrowth in focal regions with minor cartilage damage.

2. Minimally Invasive Procedure: Lipogems is a minimally invasive procedure and is performed as an outpatient treatment. This tends to be a more appealing option for individuals seeking alternatives to more invasive surgical procedures.

3. Reduces Inflammation: The anti-inflammatory properties of the fat cells that are injected may help to reduce inflammation in the treated area. This will contribute to pain relief and improved healing.

4. Natural and Autologous: The fat cells used in Lipogems are derived from the patient's own body. This reduces the risk of rejection or adverse reactions when injected. This autologous approach minimizes the need for foreign substances.

5. Versatility in Applications: Lipogems can be used in various musculoskeletal conditions, such as osteoarthritis, tendon injuries, and ligament injuries. Its versatility makes it applicable to a number of orthopedic issues.

6. Faster Recovery Potential: Some individuals may experience a faster recovery compared to traditional treatments. This is due to the regenerative properties of the injected fat cells, they work to repair and support the injured tissues.

7. Long-lasting Effects: The regenerative effects of Lipogems may provide longer-lasting relief, addressing the underlying issues rather than merely managing symptoms.


Articles by Dr Kennedy's Team

Shimozono Y, Fortier LA, Brown D, Kennedy JG. Adipose-Based Therapies for Knee Pain-Fat or Fiction. J Knee Surg. 2019 Jan;32(1):55-64. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1672155. Epub 2018 Nov 30. PMID: 30500974.

Hurley ET, Yasui Y, Gianakos AL, et al. Limited evidence for adipose-derived stem cell therapy on the treatment of osteoarthritis. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2018;26(11):3499-3507. doi:10.1007/s00167-018-4955-x

Shimozono Y, Dankert JF, Kennedy JG. Arthroscopic Debridement and Autologous Micronized Adipose Tissue Injection in the Treatment of Advanced-Stage Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis of the Ankle [published online ahead of print, 2020 Aug 6]. Cartilage. 2020;1947603520946364. doi:10.1177/1947603520946364

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