Can Liposuction Be the Answer to Curing Arthritis?
Ever since its inception years ago, the main purpose of liposuction has been to remove stubborn and resistant areas of fat. And while that objective will never fall to the wayside, science is always on the cusp of something new, and for 2018, there just may be a whole new use for the tried-and-true procedure.
In the U.K., a brand-new surgery that incorporates liposuction has just made its debut. Dubbed Lipogems, the surgery takes the fat that is removed during liposuction and then transplants it into painful arthritic joints (mainly in the knees and feet) as a way to alleviate any discomfort and act as an anti-inflammatory agent. In fact, post-procedure MRIs have shown the treatment can actually regrow cartilage in joints affected by arthritis.
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Troy, MI plastic surgeon Tony Youn, MD says the concept of Lipogems appears to be based off the idea that fat, which is chock-full of stem cells and can be injected into areas of the body, can create a regenerative effect. “We see this in women who undergo fat grafting after breast cancer surgery and radiation therapy. Many surgeons report a softening of the tissues when this is performed,” he adds.
Lipogems takes the concept of fat-based stem cell injections one step further by using them on arthritic joints. “There have been reports of some excellent outcomes, however, there's some controversy involved,” says Dr. Youn. “So the procedure is more about stem cells and its effects on parts of the body that are inflamed, and the liposuction portion of it is mainly just to harvest the fat.”