Using Your Own Fat Cells (Lipogems) to Treat Musculoskeletal Injuries

Lipogems is for patients who are looking to avoid or delay the need for orthopedic surgery. It is an award-winning new technology, offering a minimally invasive, natural option for patients.

Patients of all ages suffer from orthopedic issues including athletes (including elite), weekend warriors, busy working professionals, elderly patients and more. When patients experience injuries or orthopedic issues that cause them discomfort, the first line of treatment is typically conservative interventions like physical therapy, corticosteroids, and viscosupplementation. Unfortunately, when these options are no longer effective or the patient is not ready for major, invasive surgery, they suffer from debilitating pain, reduced quality of life, and significant financial burden. Lipogems is a best in class FDA-cleared option for patients that are between conservative therapy and are not ready for major invasive surgery.

Lipogems uses your own powerful fat to help you heal the natural way. Your fat provides cushion and support to damaged or injured tissue and supports the healing process to optimize your recovery.

Lipogems System

The Lipogems System is a sterile medical device using innovative and next-generation adipose tissue technology to harvest, concentrate and transfer a patient’s own fat, using a legally marketed lipoplasty system for the repair, reconstruction, and replacement of injured or damaged tissue.

Lipogems Process

First, the fat is harvested and then it is gently processed and/or cleaned with the Lipogems device and delivered into areas in the body to promote healing. It uses your body’s own fat tissue to cushion and support areas of injury or damage as your body heals itself.

FAT HARVESTING PROCEDURE

In a minimally invasive and immediate procedure, the physician will make a tiny puncture through your skin and collect a small amount of fat from either your midsection or “love handles”.

GENTLY PROCESSING YOUR FAT USING SALINE

Next, the collected fat will be processed in the unique Lipogems device using only sterile saline solution to remove contaminants. During this process, your fat is washed, rinsed and resized into smaller clusters while keeping the natural beneficial properties of your fat.

LIPOGEMS IS DELIVERED INTO THE BODY AREA(S) TO ALL THE PATIENT TO HEAL THE NATURAL WAY

Since the Lipogems process micro-fragments the fat, the size of Lipogems tissue is ideal to facilitate healing in the treatment site. The physician will then use a small needle to inject the Lipogems tissue into the treatment site.

MAY BE USED IN MULTIPLE TREATMENT AREAS

For patients that suffer from orthopaedic conditions in multiple areas of their body, the Lipogems device can easily process the fat tissue to be used in those areas.

Adipose Tissue Promotes Healing

Adipose tissue, commonly known as fat, has many natural reparative characteristics that help to promote a healing environment throughout the body, including 

  • Fat is minimally invasive to harvest
  • Most people have a lot of extra fat
  • Fat is the highest quality tissue
  • Fat has 100-500 times more reparative cells than other similar tissue

Fat Retains Reparative Properties As You Age

Research has shown that as a person ages, their fat maintains its reparative properties unlike other similar tissue, such as bone marrow, which may lose healing capacity with age.

Lipogems Advantages

Lipogems is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in the office or surgical setting. It is a high standard of care that offers patients several advantages including:

  • It takes less than an hour for the procedure.
  • It uses the best quality tissue–your own.
  • It uses saline to wash away the impurities such as blood, oil, and cell debris.
  • It may be used in multiple treatment sites on a patient in a single sitting.

Additionally, in using Lipogems there is a minimal risk of rejection or infection since you are using your own tissue.

Ideal Candidates for Lipogems

Talk to your doctor to find out if Lipogems could be for you. Lipogems has helped many people, including weekend warriors, busy professionals, senior citizens, everyday athletes, and professional athletes. 

You may be a candidate for Lipogems if

  • You suffer from an injury or ailment that limits your normal daily functioning or physical activity.
  • You have painful joints with limited range of motion, such as your knee, ankle or shoulder.
  • You have a soft tissue defect in your tendons, ligaments, and/or muscles (in order to restore orthopedic function, these defects may require tissue repair and regeneration, as well as cushioning and support).
  • You have not received significant relief from other treatment options such as physical therapy, NSAIDs, or steroid injections. 
  • You would like to explore Lipogems as a minimally invasive option as opposed to a major surgical intervention.
  • Your doctor recommends that Lipogems be added to your surgical or arthroscopic procedure to optimize the tissue healing environment and the recovery.

Lipogems FAQs

Your own fat cells are the best cells, as there is less likelihood of rejection.

You would not be a candidate for Lipogems if

  • You currently have a systemic infection.
  • You suffer from an autoimmune disease.
  • You currently are taking blood thinners or anti-coagulation medication.
  • You are being treated for any other malignancy or blood-borne disease.
  • You have an allergy to Lidocaine.
  • You are currently breastfeeding or plan to begin breastfeeding in the near future.
  • You have undergone previous abdominal surgery.
  • You have a hematologic condition.

Lipogems is an FDA-cleared system for orthopedic and arthroscopic surgery. The best orthopedic institutions around the world trust Lipogems, as there are strong scientific evidence and positive clinical outcomes supporting its efficacy. More than 25,000 procedures have been performed worldwide.

The Lipogems minimally invasive procedure is performed in a physician’s office or a surgical setting and can be completed in less than an hour.

Like any medical procedure, there is a risk for soreness, redness, swelling, and/or pain.  These procedures require needle access (size, location, and depth vary depending on the procedure) and this may result in (but not limited to), discomfort, pain, apprehension, bruising, tenderness, bleeding, swelling, or infiltration at the injection site. Other symptoms that may occur include lightheadedness, fainting, nausea, or vomiting. 

There is also a slight risk of infection at the injection site and minimal risk of adverse reactions or complications as with any other injection procedure. Since the fat is from your own body, there is little concern about disease transmission, an allergic reaction or tissue rejection. For patients with chronic medical conditions such as autoimmune, diabetes, heart or lung disease, circulatory diseases or obesity, extreme caution may be necessary.

There are rare but possible risks and complications due to fat transfer including an allergic reaction to the local anesthetic, damage to underlying structures, hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal), changes in sensation, unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures, permanent discoloration caused by a reuptured blood vessel at the treatment site, calcification, a divet in the area of the tissue harvest, peri-operative bleeding, a blood clot at the treatment or donor site, an infection, scar tissue, and a fat embolism caused by a fat injection mistakenly directed into a blood vessel, and death.

The information presented is for educational purposes only. Speak to your doctor to decide if Lipogems procedure is appropriate for you. Individual results vary and not all patients will return to the same activity level. The lifetime of any procedure is limited and depends on several factors like patient weight and activity level. Your doctor will counsel you about strategies for your post-procedural care. It is important to follow your physician’s instructions closely regarding post-procedure activity, treatment, and follow-up care. Ask your doctor if Lipogems procedure is right for you.

The recovery process varies for each patient, but typically patients should not engage in strenuous activity for at least 1-2 weeks following the procedure.

Similar to most new technologies, the Lipogems procedure is not covered by insurance at this time. Please speak to your doctor about using your flexible spending account.

Following the procedure, your physician will apply an absorbent dressing pad and compression tape or wrap to the treated area and may recommend a compression garment or bandage for you to wear for 24-48 hours. 

Additionally, you may expect

  • Some drainage from the harvesting site, which typically subsides within 24 hours.
  • Mild to moderate swelling or local inflammation at the injection site and/or harvest site for a few days. Ice may be used to reduce local inflammation or swelling. Your doctor will recommend how long the ice should be used.
  • Bruising at or around the site of the fat harvest.

For optimal recovery, you should follow your physician’s recommendations for post-operative care, including

  • Taking medications as prescribed.
  • Avoiding strenuous activity for the time period your doctor recommends. It is important to not over-exert yourself, and let your tissue start its repair process.

As with all procedures, individual results may vary. The lifetime of any procedure is limited and depends on several factors like patient weight and activity level. Your doctor will counsel you about strategies for your post-procedural care. It is important to follow your physician’s instructions closely regarding post-procedure activity, treatment, and follow-up care to ensure the best outcome.

Lipogems provides cushioning and structural support to your body’s tissues wherever it is injected to help the healing process. The amount of time it will stay in a given area may vary from person to person.

For the vast majority of patients, Lipogems is a one-time procedure. However, the effects may vary based on the individual and their activity level. Sometimes, a separate procedure may be needed in the future. You should discuss this in further depth with your doctor during your consultation.

For a Lipogems procedure, seek experts in the musculoskeletal system, such as Dr. Kenneth Chern, M.D., F.A.A.O.S., A.A.N.A. Dr. Chern is a graduate of Princeton University, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, and fellowship-trained in Sports Medicine and Arthroscopic Surgery at the Sports Medicine Center at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. He is also board-certified and a Fellow in the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and a Member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America.

He specializes in sports injuries of the shoulder and knee, performs arthroscopic surgery of the ankle, elbow, hip, shoulder, and knee including ACL reconstruction. Dr. Chern is also certified in Carticel cartilage transplantation.

For your consultation, be prepared to talk to your doctor. The more information you provide, the better your doctor can create a customized treatment plan for you. To help you prepare, follow these guidelines: 

  • Describe how your orthopedic issue is impacting your life.
  • Write down the other therapies that you have either tried or another healthcare professional has prescribed for you and how it has or has not helped your pain or issue.
  • Provide your doctor with copies of any recent (no older than 6 months) x-rays, MRIs, or other imaging tests.
  • Write down your personal short term and long term goals–key information about your lifestyle (home, work, activities, interests, and support system at home).
  • Ask about the different options that are available.

Contact Us

If you are interested in Lipogems, please call Seaview Orthopedics at (732) 660-6200 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chern or one of our other Seaview Sports Medicine specialists.