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Experts Say Stem-Cell Enriched Fat Grafts Improve Plastic Surgery Results

According to Medical News Today, doctors may soon be able to give their patients better plastic surgery results with reconstructive or standard procedures with the help of stem-cell enriched fat grafts. Autologous fat grafts, which requires the transplant of fat from one area of the body to another, has become more prevalent in breast reconstructions and other plastic surgeries. Researchers say that they’ve found an effective way to make this surgical technique even more efficient.

The study published in the Lancet had researchers comparing the results of 10 different people who had autologous fat grafts with ten who received enriched stem-cell grafts made from body fat tissues. The study compared both techniques with ten healthy volunteers. The volunteers had liposuction where fat tissue could be collected on one side of the patient’s abdomen. The researchers then used two purified fat grafts for each volunteer and injected them into their upper arms, one enriched with stem cells, the other not.

The researchers did an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the patients both immediately following their surgery and 121 days after. They found that the stem-cell grafts retained nearly 80.9% volume compared to the standard ones with just 16.3% volume maintained. After four months following surgery, the stem-cell grafts patients had higher levels of adipose tissues and more connective tissues formed as well as less loss of body tissue compared to their standard fat grafts counterparts.

Researchers of the study believe that this procedure could be very effective in improving the results of those undergoing major tissue surgeries such as breast reconstruction for cancer patients. The first randomized human trial studied using stem-cell enriched fat grafts showed that the procedure is reliable, efficient and most importantly, safe.

Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark says that the process could become a regular procedure or technique used for these types of surgeries. The procedure itself harvests a patient’s fat to increase the fat volume in another part of their body. Researchers believe that the procedure has high resorption rates nearly 80%. Many scientists believe that stem-cell enriched fat grafts could completely revolutionize reconstructive surgery as a whole.

Many doctors such as Dr. Stig-Frederik Trojahn Kolle of Copenhagen University Hospital, the author of the study, believe that results are promising and add a significant appeal to the use of stem cells in clinical settings. It also shows that ASC graft enrichment could add to a reliable surgical procedure since the resorption rate and the quality of the tissue can be easily predicted. This may become an attractive alternative to total primary tissue augmentation for patients, which can lead to fewer side effects or risks as well as better overall results.
The Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh believes that stem-cell enriched fat grafting is justified by the outcome of the study conducted. However, further studies are needed to apply the same fat grafting method to relevant patient populations in other surgeries too.