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Having Liposuction? Give the Fat to Scientists

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    Having Liposuction? Give the Fat to Scientists

    Having Liposuction? Give the Fat to Scientists
    Wed May 1, 6:10 PM ET
    By Kathleen Doheny

    LAS VEGAS (Reuters Health) - If you're undergoing liposuction, you're no doubt happy to kiss that unsightly fat goodbye. But you might not want to throw it away.

    The excess fat that looks so bad on your tummy, backside or thighs, it turns out, is a mother lode of stem cells, and some cosmetic surgeons now suggest you might want to bank that fat. Later, they hope to draw on those banked stem cells--unspecialized cells that can be transformed into many different types of specialized cells--for use in additional cosmetic procedures or other types of operations or treatments, if necessary.

    "Fat happens to be rich in stem cells," said Dr. Peter Fodor, a plastic surgeon at Century City Hospital near Los Angeles and a UCLA clinical associate professor of plastic surgery, who will present his latest research Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Las Vegas. Every 100 cubic centimeters of bone marrow yields up to 10,000 stem cells, Fodor told Reuters Health. But the same amount of fat contains a million stem cells.

    In their research, Fodor and his colleagues isolated stem cells from liposuction specimens of 10 patients and grew them into more fat cells as well as into bone, cartilage, skeletal muscle and nerve cells.

    "The possibilities are endless," Fodor said. Suppose a patient is involved in a motor vehicle accident and bone is needed for repair. "You could take their stored stem cells, make bone, put it back in (their body) to heal up the fracture," Fodor said. Or, a woman may have fat removed from her thighs, bank it, and then, later have it injected into her hands to give them a more youthful look.

    Besides finding a rich source of stem cells in the discarded fat, Fodor and his team found the fat to be a source of collagen, the fibrous part of bone, cartilage, tendons and other connective tissue. Fodor and his colleagues harvested the collagen from the liposuction specimens of 10 patients and then successfully reinjected it into soft tissues. For example, this reinjected collagen might plump up a face that has begun to look emaciated with age.

    As for stem cells, using those collected from a patient's body eliminates the risk of rejection when later reintroduced. It also avoids the ethical issues involved in using stem cells derived from embryos. Stem cells are already being looked at by researchers to treat a variety of diseases and conditions, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease (news - web sites), stroke, burns, heart disease and diabetes.

    One of Fodor's co-presenters, Dr. Marc Hedrick, is the CEO of StemSource in Thousand Oaks, California, which banks stem cells from liposuction patients.

    Fees for StemSource banking are not yet set, said Dr. John K. Fraser, StemSource's chief scientific officer and a veteran stem cell researcher. But he expects the initial collection and processing cost, which will be charged by participating doctors, to be about $1500 to $2000, including 5 years of storage. After the initial 5 years, the storage fee is expected to be about $100 per year. Those who donate up to 10% of their cells for research will receive an additional 5 years free storage, Fraser said.

    The average surgeon's fee for liposuction is $2,049, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

    The concept of using banked stem cells from liposuctioned fat for future procedures "sounds feasible," said Dr. Farshid Guilak, director of orthopedic research at Duke University Medical Center and a stem cell and arthritis researcher. His lab and at least one other have also grown stem cells from fat into the more specialized cells, he said.

    However, he cautioned that a number of studies will be required to prove that using stem cells from liposuctioned fat for cosmetic or reconstructive procedures works well. "We need to prove that transformation of cells from one type to another is irreversible," Guilak said. The safety of the procedures must also be proven

    Large-Volume Liposuction May Also Improve Health

    Large-Volume Liposuction May Also Improve Health
    Wed May 1, 6:09 PM ET
    By Kathleen Doheny

    LAS VEGAS (Reuters Health) - Removing large volumes of fat via liposuction may not only improve a woman's appearance, but can also improve her health, according to a new report.

    "Being overweight is not just unattractive, it's unhealthy," said Dr. Sharon Y. Giese, a New York City aesthetic surgeon who will report Thursday on the health benefits of large-volume liposuction for women at the annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    In the wake of problems with large-volume liposuction in the last decade, including some patient deaths, professional organizations discouraged its practice. However, doctors still perform large-volume liposuction for very overweight but motivated patients.

    For two years, Giese followed the progress of 14 of her patients who underwent "large-volume" liposuction, typically defined as the removal of more than 5 liters of fat at a single session.

    Women had fat removed from their back, flanks, abdomen and thighs, as needed. They reduced body weight and achieved reduction of high blood pressure and a reversal of diabetes-related problems. Giese speculates that the reduced body weight may also help ward off problems such as heart attacks.

    This approach, Giese cautioned in an interview with Reuters Health, is intended only for women who are 30 to 50 pounds overweight, who have tried diet and exercise to no avail, and who meet other strict criteria. They must, for instance, agree to make substantial lifestyle changes, such as engaging in regular exercise and watching what they eat. She won't perform the procedure on patients with medical problems such as an eating disorder or uncontrolled high blood pressure.

    On average, the women studied were 39 years old and had a body mass index (BMI) of 28.8 before the operation. BMI, a measurement based on height and weight, is used to assess obesity and evaluate optimal healthy weight. Adults with a BMI of 25 or higher are considered at risk for diseases related to excess weight, such as high blood pressure. A person who is 5'5" and weighs 150 pounds or 6'0" and 185 pounds has a BMI of 25, for instance.

    At the 2-year follow-up, their average weight had dropped from 181 pounds to 170 and their BMI dropped from 28.8 to 27.2. Ten of the 14 had continued successful weight maintenance, defined for the study as the ability to maintain weight at least 5% lower than their preoperative weight.

    The only complication was minor, Giese noted. One woman had fluid under the skin temporarily.

    It takes about 6 weeks, due partly to fluid retention, to see full results. "A woman who was 40 or 50 pounds overweight 6 weeks later can expect to be 10 to 15 pounds lighter and two clothing sizes smaller," she says. The waist typically shrinks by 4 inches, and Giese added that may also translate to better health, since fat around the middle has been linked to heart disease.

    The large-volume operation takes about 4.5 hours, Giese explained, and is done in a hospital under general anesthesia. She charges $8,000 to $16,000 for the surgery, hospital and other fees, depending on how much fat is removed and other factors. Typically, patients return to work in 1 week and can resume normal physical activity after 2 weeks.

    Another aesthetic surgeon, Dr. Charles Hughes of Indianapolis, Indiana, who heads the society's body contouring committee, pointed out that only a handful of surgeons around the United States now perform large-volume liposuction, with most of the 385,000 liposuction procedures done annually involving less than 5 liters of fat removal.

    Despite earlier problems with the procedure, the large-volume technique may make sense for selected patients, Hughes suggested, if done by an experienced surgeon. He plans to offer the technique, but only after staffing his office with an exercise physiologist and nutrition expert. Patients who are considering the operation should be sure their surgeon is well-trained in the technique and has performed several, he advised.


      I am willing...

      I would be willing to provide all my extra fat to anyone who wants it...of course, they would have to cover the liposuction costs.....oh, and could we include a tanning membership as well?

      Russ Byrd


        I'd do it but...

        I don't think there is a plastic surgeon out there that would perform liposuction on a plegic.

        "Save the last dance for me!"