Fat: The Next Big Cure?

Sharon at RealSelf on 17 Nov 2010 at 4:55am

Stem cells are a divisive issue, but what if you could cure diseases and get thinner too? That's the (basic) premise behind a grant awarded to researchers at UCLA, who will investigate whether liposuction is a viable source for stem cells. If successful, the cells could be used to treat debilitating conditions like osteoporosis and spine disorders.

So how does it work? "While it is a relatively well-known fact that stem cells can be derived from human embryos, what plastic surgeons are learning now is that we don't lose all of them during development," says Dr. Ricardo Rodriguez, a plastic surgeon from Baltimore. "The stem cells have easy access to any potentially damaged area, where they can assist in repairing and creating new tissue."

What's next? Someday, stem cells may also provide an alternative to facelifts, breast reconstruction and scar repair, although many doctors on RealSelf note that we are still far from that goal. Nonetheless, early signs are positive. "[Dr.] Sydney Coleman in New York City has amazing pictures of patients with facial scars that appear to vanish years after fat has been placed under them," comments Dr. Michael Persky. "I have seen improvement in skin tone and texture in my patients as well."

Some doctors have begun setting up their own trials, using fat grafting as a repair technique. If you think this might benefit you, look for local doctors and ask about any ongoing research in the area.