Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a candidate for Orthopedic Stem Cell Therapy?
In the past if a patient had serious joint dysfunction or persistent musculoskeletal pain i.e. in the knee, back, shoulder, elbow, hips, neck, wrists, etc. their options were very limited. The typical protocol or choices were; pain medication, steroid shots and anti-inflammatories and see how you would do. Lastly, the patient would be facing joint replacement surgery and hope it was successful.

Today you have another choice!

Many scientists and doctors agree that Stem Cells are the medicine of the future. As far as orthopedic problems go, this approach is now available and for many, may very well be the treatment of choice and yield a far superior result than more conventional approaches.

What does the treatment involve and how does it work?
The procedure is non-surgical and performed in an outpatient environment. Approximately 60-100 ccs (some cases more) are harvested from a patient’s own belly fat. After numbing the skin, this mini-liposuction procedure is done with large syringes under low pressure and takes about 45 minutes. The stem cells are isolated through a special process in a lab that takes about 90 minutes. Then the isolated stem cells with growth factors are mixed with a simple blood draw (called Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP). Next the stem cell/PRP combo is injected at the specific joint and ligament sites that are the root cause of the problem. The stem cells will remain alive for about 6 months and will continue to regenerate and rebuild the damaged tissues during that period. Within 2-4 hours the patient can go home.
When is stem cell therapy and PRP recommended?
PRP (platelet rich plasma) is prepared in about 45 minutes from a simple blood draw. PRP represent natural growth factors that can activate your naturally occurring stem cells. If the damage is not too severe and has not been there too long, PRP by itself might take care of it. If the damage or injury is more severe, stem cells with PRP may be required for faster and more complete healing. PRP usually takes three sessions to complete the healing. Spacing post visits at least 2 weeks apart to allow healing to occur.
What kinds of problems can stem cells treat and what is the success rate? How long do the benefits last?
Our findings are that stem cells have the capacity to regenerate all types of tissues, which includes; cartilage, bone, ligaments and tendons. Stem cells detect specific damaged tissue(s) and then repair them selectively. Results up to 80% for conditions i.e. bone-on-bone arthritis of the knee and hip, rotator cuff, various types of back pain and neck pain and many other chronic orthopedic issues can be anticipated. If the stem cell therapy is a success and the joint or connective tissue structure is regenerated, there is every reason to believe that this will be a long-term solution.
How long before patients improve and what is the follow-up?
Patients often ask how long before they feel improvement. Stem cells rely on a patients own healing response so it is impossible to predict who will heal faster. In some patients, in some joints the stem cells will ignite fast and heal rapidly and the patient may notice marked improvements even within the first week. For others, the process may take 6 weeks before they experience improvement. For those who have a very chronic condition a 4-6 week PRP follow-up treatment may be most beneficial.
Is stem cell therapy safe?
Orthopedic Stem Cell therapy is a minimally invasive and very safe procedure. There is only minimal soreness after their mini liposuction and the injections. There is no risk of infection as the stem cells are those of the patient. Common sense activities without weight bearing loads plus stretching for the first few weeks is helpful stem cell regeneration and tissue repair.
How much does stem cell therapy cost and does insurance cover it?
Stem cell therapy sessions vary among physicians. A blood draw plus the mini-liposuction procedure, lab fees etc. could range from $2,000.00 – $7,000.00 per site – example knee or shoulder joint. For a more complex joint such as lumbar spine or hip or multiple sites the costs can be as high as $8,000.00+. Some physicians will discount the 2nd or 3rd sites by 50%. Many patients have two areas that require attention. In this case the second area is discounted 50%.

If the patient cannot afford stem cell therapy they can still benefit from PRP therapy. Though it would take several additional sessions, there is still hope for tissue repair and healing. There is high expectation that insurance companies will be covering this technology in the near, future. Some stem cell clinics offer payment plans.

How many stem cell treatments does a patient need? How long is recovery time?
Depending on the tissue damage, severity of the condition, the size of area that needs to be injected and most importantly patients healing capability. Patients usually need only one treatment unless their condition is very severe in which case additional treatment are recommended. Each treatment is independent of all the others, meaning each treatment by itself has benefits, there is usually no down time and the patient can go back to work or their usual activities immediately.
What is the most important reason people want this treatment?
It depends upon the individual. Some want to just be pain free, some are looking for range of motion, some need more strength, some want to go back to activities that brought them this far such as playing Golf, Tennis, Dance, Soccer, Football. For some others, it is important not to think twice about getting up only to get a glass of water or just being able to walk again. In general people like to be functional again.
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