From fantastic face and breast lifts to stunning success with repairing muscles, bones and cartilage, adult stem cells promise to revolutionize modern medicine. The good news: They are available right now. The better news: You already have them inside you.
In Tampa, a man who was told that not even surgery could restore his knee to full use is now playing baseball without pain. A woman in California no longer needs the hip operation she was scheduled for. Another man in New York has recovered completely from the rheumatoid arthritis in his hands that plagued him for years. A middle-aged woman in Texas whose face looked ravaged from aging now looks buoyantly youthful.
What do these people have in common, besides seemingly miraculous cures for their various complaints? All have benefited from the use of stem cells.
Stem cells, those magical, mystery bullets that were officially frowned on during the Bush Administration, are back—and this time they are launching a healing revolution that could change medicine forever. Already they are changing the face of cosmetic surgery, with scores of therapeutic applications not far behind.
At the time Dr. Coleman first observed the phenomenon, however, he and other doctors could not explain it. “We thought it was the volume increase [from the fat] that reduced the wrinkles, or that the fat provided a physical barrier between the muscle and the skin,” he says. “But in fact it appears that the stem cells were the reason.”
After it was revealed that the fat was loaded with adult stem cells, doctors began figuring out ways to extract them, or at least concentrate them. Dr. Coleman developed a simple technique using a centrifuge, where the fat was spun around in a tube until it separated into layers. One layer of thick white fat was extremely rich in stem cells.
“I found I could exponentially increase the predictability of the results with the dense fat, because there were far more stem cells and growth factors,” says Dr. Coleman, which is another way of saying that this was the stuff that really worked.
That was about seven years ago. Flash forward to the present, and voilá, you have a whole cadre of pioneering doctors who are using stem-cell rich fat for facelifts, breast lifts and now, the more serious business of repairing broken and diseased body parts.
“Prior to 2001 we thought the only source of stem cells was bone marrow,” says R. Craig Saunders, MD, who practices outside of Dallas, Texas. “Since then [the discovery of ‘adipose’
stem cells] there has been a tendency to use fat as a volumizing agent, because the stem cells are reparative and regenerative.”
Even knowing that stem cells can repair and rebuild, Dr. Saunders says that when he first heard that adult stem cells could help restore heart muscles and other types of tissue, “I thought it was nonsense,” he says. Today his clinic uses stem cells for both cosmetic and therapeutic purposes. In particular he uses stem cells to repair sports related injuries, in which the stem cells regenerate the cartilage and bone damage.