For the 200 or so people who are cryogenically frozen, the possibilities of healing and resuscitation are still just hopes for the distant future. But for people who hope to freeze a part of themselves for use in this lifetime – the future is now.
As the potential benefits of stem cell therapy continue to garner interest for use in everything from tissue and cartilage regeneration to cosmetic procedures such as stem cell facelifts, Brazilian butt lifts and natural breast augmentation, the first U.S. company to offer cell and tissue storage specifically for cosmetic procedures recently began operations in Dallas, Texas.
Biolife Cell Bank works with doctors from around the country by providing them with a kit that allows them to ship and store a patient’s fat that is normally disposed as medical waste after liposuction. The company handles the processing and filtering of the fat and will keep it suspended at -186 degrees in the vapor form of liquid nitrogen, similar to how sperm and embryos are stored. The fat cells have a 90-92% survival rate and remain potent indefinitely.
While we know that stem cells are found abundantly in human fat, it remains unclear if stem cells can actually be activated with devices, lasers or chemicals, and therefore elevate a transfer procedure from simple fat grafting to a true stem cell facelift. But in any case, fat grafting has been proven for years to be an effective technique for replacing lost volume and for improving the color, tone and texture of aging skin. Plus, the results typically last 5-10 years instead of the 12-18 months promised by synthetic dermal fillers.
Two of the biggest benefits of freezing fat for future injections are:
1. Having access to younger cells even as a patient continues to age.
2. Undergoing just one moderately invasive liposuction procedure to harvest fat and then being able to retrieve and use it on as as-needed basis for smaller, minimally-invasive office procedures, eliminating the need for repeated recovery time and ultimately reducing costs.
The process begins when Biolife Cell Bank is notified several days before your procedure, and it begins preparing to receive and store your fat. A kit is shipped to your doctor, and immediately after your liposuction procedure, the fat is put into carefully labeled containers and shipped to Biolife Cell Bank via FedEx within 12 hours. The cell acquisition kit keeps cells alive for about 48 hours after removal. Once it arrives at the facility, it is monitored with a bar code tracking system to ensure the cells are kept safe, secure and available for use only by you. Printed records are sent to both you and your doctor.
When you are ready to retrieve your banked cells, your doctor will notify Biolife Cell Bank of the procedure date, necessary volume, etc. They are processed and shipped back to your doctor, ready to use for your procedure.
Possible uses for fat cell preservation are:
- Facial rejuvenation
- Breast augmentation
- Asymmetric breast treatment
- Breast reconstruction
- Asymmetric liposuction treatment
- Wound care
* Tissue and cartilage regeneration
The cost of fat cell banking is usually added to the cost of the liposuction procedure and begins at about $1,700 for processing and the first year of storage.
Other countries are leading the way in research and application development for stem cells, while the FDA is taking its usual cautious and slow approach. However, it seems clear that the future of stem cells and the role they will play in regenerative medicine has only just begun. By freezing and banking what was once disposable fat, you can now buy a ticket to the future.
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