Lipogems: Next Gen Joint Repair

Lipogems: Next Gen Joint Repair

You can probably name ten people and at least one has had a knee replacement. The statistics are rising with approximately 27 million people suffering from some sort of joint pain and 7.2 million living with implants of the knee and/or hip, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. 

In the past, when the knee joint became compromised people adapted with pain killers, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. Now, an ingenious mechanical device can be swapped out for your damaged joint giving you upwards of ten to twenty years of virtually pain-free mobility. Yet, like any invasive surgery joint replacement is a major procedure, with infection, scar tissue and outside hardware put into the body posing all sorts of potential problems.  

Recent research has shown that a new procedure called Lipogems may do away with mechanical joints altogether. Just a minimally invasive procedure through arthroscopic or possibly a simple injection could soon turn the joint replacement industry on its head. This may be the procedure those suffering with joint trauma, arthritis or degeneration have been waiting for in place of surgery. Plus, it comes with an added benefit.

Fat Out, Fat In

You may be trying to lose some extra adipose tissue, fat cells often collected around your belly, back, and butt. Yet, these lipoma cells are difficult to lose. From fad diets to water fasting, people have tried them all but the relapse and obesity rate remains high. In many cases, being overweight could be the reason so many people are getting knee replacements in the first place. 

Now, if your joints are in need of being replaced, the very fat you may be trying to lose could be harvested to heal your joint pain instead of a replacement. These are Lipogems, using your own body fat liposuctioned out and injected into your joint to act in place of depleted cushioning. In addition, this fat holds prime stem cells able to be programmed to embrace a new location within a joint and adapt to a new function, namely protecting that joint. 

An Unexpected Powerhouse

When fat is utilized by the body, enormous amounts of energy can result. However, while modern humans don’t need excess energy to hunt or fight, the fat isn’t used as readily but the food is still eaten en masse. As a result, most science has targeted fat as collateral damage due to an abominable western diet but now years of research using fat to heal damaged tissue may be entering mainstream procedures sooner than later. 

As reported by Science Daily, according to Dr. Brian Cole, professor of orthopedic surgery and section head of the Rush Cartilage Restoration Center at Rush University Medical Center,

“Fat has long been used for support of tissue repair and replacement,…Fat has the ability to be a source of important cells which produce important proteins involved with healing and reduction in inflammation.”

Lipogems are the result of a new ‘fat science’ that is using a patient’s natural tissue to heal elsewhere in the body. 

Reparative Technologies 

Medicine has come a long way. From ancient healing applications to conventional drugs, medical science has been steadily applying all that it can to relieve pain while making a profit. However, the downsides have often surpassed the upsides with many Americans now addicted to painkillers as a result. 

Reparative technologies have been a slow emergence of surgical procedures that, when applied to joints, requires various prosthesis applications that are meant to get patients off pain killing drugs and back to healthy mobility. 

Dr. Champ Baker, Jr., of the respected Hughston Clinic in Columbus, GA. commented,

“The use of reparative technologies in orthopedics is rapidly expanding and medicine is forced to keep up with patient demands and the forces that are placed on their bodies. This is true for all types of patients from young athletes to professional athletes, from weekend warriors to the elderly,…As a result, we are understanding more about reparative medicine options and the science behind them.”

The Lipogem Procedure

Using Lipogems is an easy in-office procedure. It requires lipoma (fat) extraction, cleaning, preparation and injection. 

According to Dr. Brian Cole, 

“The technology is ideal for patients with certain orthopedic conditions, such as painful joints — including the knee, ankle or shoulder — with limited range of motion. Additionally, it can be used in soft tissue defects located in tendons, ligaments, and/or muscles to improve the biologic environment.” 

The course of action which only takes about an hour is as follows:

  • Liposuction fat cells from the abdomen or thigh with patient sedated on local anesthetic
  • Rinse and clean inflammatory oils and blood from the harvested fat 
  • Maintain natural and beneficial properties of the fat tissue
  • Resize or ‘micro-fragment’ fat tissue to optimum size creating Lipogems
  • Slowly inject Lipogems into injured site
  • Send patient home

Unlike synthetic attempts, the fat tissue from  Lipogems maintain position rather than being re-absorbed back into the body. This allows for maximized, elongated benefits to perpetuate the body’s natural healing process by supporting the repair, replacement or reconstruction of damaged or injured tissue. 

Reports Are In

The FDA cleared Lipogems in 2017 but the procedure is just now gaining traction with many pain-free reports coming in daily. Although not officially considered a stem cell treatment, Lipogem therapy is theorized by some to perpetuate stem cell production. This could mean that in addition to Lipogems cushioning joints there may be stem cell replication that could repair the joint altogether. 

WebMD reports on a patient testimonial from George Chung of Los Angeles, an active skier at 55 years of age who developed osteoarthritis in both knees. He opted out of recommended surgery and tried stem cell treatments instead. According to the report, 

“…nine treatments and 3 years later, he is back to intense skiing. Last year, he also took up long-distance cycling, completed five double-century cycling rides, and earned the prestigious California Triple Crown cycling award”

According to a preliminary study of Lipogem therapy in 2016 by Italian researchers published in Current Stem Cell Reports, it was concluded that, 

“Adipose tissue is the ideal source for extracting MSCs [mesenchymal stem cells] because it can be accessed and harvested easily via a minimally invasive surgical procedure,…[] The Lipogems® technology improves and optimizes the natural properties of adipose tissue. Without using enzymes, additives, or separation centrifugations and relying instead on the use of mild mechanical forces, the Lipogems® system yields a micro-fragmented autologous adipose tissue that acts as a large-scale tool to supply damaged tissues with a regenerative environment.”

 

Lipogems may just be the next generation joint repair that has future generations saying, “They actually put a mechanical device your knee?!”.  Talk to your doctor about using (and losing) your own fat to help relieve joint pain.



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