Fat Stem Cell Arthritis Treatments: Are All Fat Stem Cells Equal?

By Chris Centeno, MD /

Receive a Regenexx® Patient Info Packet by email and learn why it's a superior regenerative solution.

Fat Stem Cell Arthritis

There are an ever increasing supply of physicians who have taken a weekend course to deliver fat stem cell arthritis treatments. What should patients know? All stem cells are created equal, right? Wrong. Let me explain.

For many patients, the term “stem cell” means a single type of cell that can help treat disease. However, nothing could be farther from the truth, as there are hundreds of different kinds of stem cells, each with their own properties and uses. As an example of this, a recent paper highlights how fat stem cells taken from two different sources have completely different potentials in helping arthritis.

There are stem cells in your body that keep you alive. Believe it or not, these little “repairmen” are in every tissue you have. When an injury happens, they spring into action to help repair the local area. We accumulate small injuries everyday, so without these stem cells, we would soon be like an old car where the oil, tires, and windshield wipers were never replaced, a broken down shadow of our former selves.

Fat stem cells make more fat for a living. So if you had trauma to an area where they live, they will help create more fat tissue and the blood supply to support it. This is why they’re so good for cosmetic purposes, as adding fat that will stay in an area can be a big bonus in enhancing appearance. However, what they don’t do all day is make cartilage, so fat stem cell use for orthopedics has been shown to be less than optimal in the peer reviewed research. Now a new study shows us just how important the location of stem cell harvest is to their final use.

The new study took fat stem cells from the “fat deposits” many Americans are trying to decrease and compared them to fat deposits in the knee. The fat stem cells in the knee all came from a very specific spot under the knee cap, the Infra-patellar Fat Pad (IFP). The belly fat stem cells turned out to be better at creating bone, but were quite poor at creating cartilage. The IFP cells were good at making cartilage and less adept at making bone. Why? multiple studies have shown that the daily function of the stem cell impacts it’s proclivities. So for example, stem cells that are from the heart are better at creating new heart muscle than stem cells taken from fat or bone marrow.

Why is this important? Many fat stem cell clinics often show studies performed by others that use IFP cells to help arthritis, when what they’re actually doing is harvesting the very different belly fat stem cells. Regrettably, the comparison is apples to oranges.

The upshot? A stem cell taken from one part of the body isn’t the same as one taken from another. Most of the physicians using stem cells today who learned their craft in a weekend course weren’t taught this distinction. However, an educated patient, should know the difference!

Category: Latest News

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.