Beware of Copycat Gucci Bags and Copycat Regenexx Procedures!

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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why is regenexx different

The first time I got invited to the Vatican to speak on orthopedic adult stem cells, I took my mom and my son. For some reason, my mom was fascinated by the street vendors hawking Gucci, YSL, and Fendi purses for $30. Perhaps it was because in Rome, just across town, the real deal was selling for $3,000, or maybe just because from the point of view of a quick glance, nobody could tell her the fake Guccis weren’t the real deal. It occurred to me this morning that this was a great way to answer the question “Why is Regenexx different?” and explain the differences between Regenexx and the copycat orthopedic stem cell procedures being offered by physicians.

My mom loved these street vendors, so much so that after an hour or two of looking at hundreds of handbags and tens of vendors who all seemed to be selling the same thing, she still couldn’t make up her mind about which bag she wanted, which was my own form of Catholic penance. I would have to say that their bags were pretty amazing copies of the real deal, and the good fun was that 99% of the people buying them knew they weren’t real designer bags like those sold on the Via Condotti. They knew they were buying a fake and that for their $30, they would get a week’s worth of use out of their purchase because at some point the iconic “brass” Gucci “G” would likely fall off or one of the straps would fall apart. The problem we’re seeing with patients who are signing up for Regenxx copycat procedures is that most of them don’t know they’re getting an inferior service. Let me explain.

Why Is Regenexx Different?

A gentleman just posted on one of our blogs about the fact that he’d had several PRP injections and a bone marrow stem cell procedure and was still having swelling in his knee. Given the state of the hundreds of physicians who are offering copycat procedures of Regenexx, my first question was whether he was treated at a Regenexx clinic. Sure enough, not only was he not treated by us, but the hospital where he was treated was bold enough to use a news story about our Pittsburgh providers to introduce what they were newly offering. So while I hate to compare a regional hospital to a Roman street vendor of fake Gucci purses, it’s really the same phenomenon, only a bit worse because the consumer doesn’t really know what the differences are between Regenexx and what they’re actually buying.

Why is Regenexx different? Here are the main differences:

  1. Regenexx is a patented three-part protocol that uses a preinjection, stem cell injection, and postinjection, over a week, that is very different. There’s a reason that the US Patent Office granted us this protection on this proprietary procedure—it was based on the data we submitted.
  2. Our processing of your bone marrow is very different. Rest assured that the hospital had purchased a simple, little bedside centrifuge that only isolates one fraction of stem cells from your marrow. In fact, all such machines that you can buy only isolate that same fraction, so each is by law a copycat of itself. The Regenexx process isolates two different fractions of stem cells in your bone marrow to dramatically increase the number of stem cells you’re receiving.
  3. The sophistication of reinjection is very different. While most physicians using guidance (you should never let anyone perform a stem cell injection without imaging guidance or blind as this is below the standard of care) know only how to perform one type of injection in the knee, Regenexx physicians are trained in 14 different specific procedures to be able to implant cells in specific parts of the knee with high accuracy.
  4. Our providers are very different. Most of the physicians advertising they can do orthopedic stem cell procedures wouldn’t be qualified, based on their training, to be part of the Regenexx network. It’s hard for patients to understand that physicians often have disparate levels of training, but they do, just like any other profession.
  5. What our providers know about how to maximize your results is very different. This weekend I was redesigning our initial, week-long course where we take hand-picked and highly trained one-in-a-thousand doctors and then teach them everything they need to know about performing the basic knee and hip injections. For just those two body parts, the task of reorganizing this massive amount of information was daunting. Compare that to a copycat doctor who just takes a weekend or day course. Here are some examples:
    • Anesthetics—Based on our published research on how common local anesthetics kill stem cells, Regenexx providers are only permitted to use certain anesthetics around your stem cells.
    • Dosing—You can bet the doctor at the community hospital above had no way to count the dose of the stem cells in the sample that was being injected. Why? There are no automated bedside machines that provide this information. All Regenexx providers know the dose because they have an actual lab in their offices. This becomes critically important in older patients, as much more bone marrow aspirate may need to be taken to adjust the dose. This is another problem with using a bedside centrifuge as it’s “one size fits all,” meaning that even if you wanted to take more marrow, the machine only processes a set amount. Not at Regenexx, where the doctor can adjust the marrow taken and the dose up as needed because he or she has more than that simple, little machine everyone else uses.
    • Research—Regenexx has actually published its own research studies and tracks every patient’s results. The local hospital or doctor down the street has no idea if what he or she is doing, the way he or she is doing it, actually works.

While I can’t guarantee that we could have helped this gentleman’s knee stop swelling, I can say that after having more experience in injecting stem cells into knees than any other human being on this side of the Atlantic, everything about the real Regenexx procedure would have maximized his chances of success.

The upshot? Unlike the fake Gucci vendors in Rome and their buyers who knowingly suspend disbelief for a week that they have actually purchased a real Gucci bag, most patients getting a copycat stem cell procedure these days don’t know that they’re getting a fake version of the Regenexx procedure. While there are some good providers out there who aren’t part of our network, who are trying hard to do this all at a high level, who I would recommend, I can’t recommend most providers who took a weekend course and bought a cute little bedside machine. So don’t be surprised if you buy a copycat and it falls apart after a week; like I had to tell my mom, “What did you expect for $30?”

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6 thoughts on “Beware of Copycat Gucci Bags and Copycat Regenexx Procedures!

  1. Sandra S. Schmidt

    After reading this article & a few others of yours, I am wondering if I would be a good candidate for stem cell. I have bone on bone on right knee & left ankle. Dr’s I have seen want to do surgery. Knee replacement & ankle fusion. Trying to avoid these surgerys.
    But do have a lot of pain & swelling. I am a very active person but this is slowing me down. Does insurance cover any of this? Are any of your Dr.’s in the Chicago area? I live 60 miles west of Chicago.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Sandra,
      Glad to hear you’re trying to avoid knee replacement and ankle fusion as they are irreversible decisions! Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover stem cell procedures in the United States. The two issues you describe are issues we treat regularly and we do have a Doctor in the Chicago area that treats both knees and ankles: http://www.chicagoarthritis.com/ Candidacy takes many diferent things into consideration. To see if you would be a good candidate for a Regenexx Procedure, please fill out the candidate form: http://www.regenexx.com

  2. Anne Smith

    Dear Dr. Centeno, unrelated to your article, but what’s your take on the work done by Bone Therapeutics in Belgium (www.bonetherapeutics.com/). The cellular component of their therapeutic is very different to Regenexx and I wondered what would be the pros and cons of MSC-derived osteoblast transplants?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Anne,
      It might help with building bone. Having said that, bone is very easy to treat with bone marrow same day stem cells with excellent literature going back to the late 90s, so unknown why allogeneic osteoblasts would work any better.

      1. Anne Smith

        Thanks for the info. Are BM same day stem cells osteogenic per se, to the same extent as osteoblasts, or is this a dosing phenomenon, in that BM same day stem cells don’t contain as many osteoblasts? It would differentiate the two therapeutics as the needs of some patients would suit one better than the other.

        1. Regenexx Team Post author

          Anne,
          Bone marrow MSCs are highly osteogenic and do a great job of healing bone, as it’s their primary function. Adding osteoblasts above what’s already in the bone marrow or local area is usually not needed. Every company establishes it’s reason to spend big bucks on a technology which eventually departs from reality. Here, we have excellent clinical research evidence that goes back to the 90s that shows that bone marrow concentrate (a same day stem cell procedure) heals bone. There is no rationale in 9 in 10 cases (other than a business one) to use anything else at this point as BMC is a cheap and renewable resource. However, you can’t patent and turn BMC into a drug, so the business plan is flawed, but the science works just fine.

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.
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