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The Use Of Adult Stem Cells In Plastic Surgery & Regenerative Medicine

By Lewis J. Obi M.D., FRSA
Posted: 9th April 2015 09:19
World Wars I and II established the need for modern day plastic surgery.  As a Marine, the Korean War convinced me to become a plastic surgeon.  Working my way through medical school as a pharmacist provided me with tools that have been useful as I evolved into the area of regenerative medicine.  My residency years included general surgery, cardiovascular surgery, hand surgery, maxillofacial surgery as well as plastic surgery.  In 1973, I became board certified in plastic surgery.  However, my education never ceased.
I have worked with fat and an adipose source of stem cells for 35 years.  In the beginning, I had no concept of stem cells or why I was observing regenerative changes in my patients after fat injections.  25 years ago, my hand surgery professor referred a patient that had a severe de-gloving type of injury to her right upper extremity with high level damage to all three nerves (median, ulnar and radial).  She was left with a claw type extremity with only shoulder motion.  The exposed nerves were causing such severe paraesthesias and phantom pain that she was considering a high level amputation.  Three years post injury I performed multiple fat injections in an effort to insulate the exposed nerves.  I was confounded by the return of both sensory and motor nerve function as well as significant decrease in pain levels.  20 years later she has continued with improved function with the later use of processed stem cell rich fat grafts.
Almost five years ago I was awarded the first FDA approved Medikan™ Lipokit, a totally enclosed fat processing unit imported by Palomar.  Combining SlimLipo laser neck tightening with large volume Lipokit processed fat and PRP to the face resulted in my OPERA Lift procedure.
The OPERA Lift is a totally non-surgical “3D Space Lift”.  Shortly after my first case, I began enhancing my results by integrating Cell Assisted Lipo transfer technique (CAL).  CAL is produced by adding collagenase digested stem cells to the processed Lipokit fat.  This increases the fat graft survival to almost 100%
Shortly afterwards, Dr. Melvin Shiffman of L.A. asked me to contribute a chapter to the first book ever published on “Stem Cells in Aesthetic Procedures”.  Springer Publications released the book last November, almost three years after I had written my chapter (chapter 29).
During an international lecture series with Dr. Mark Berman of Santa Monica, I was encouraged to join his newly established California Stem Cell Treatment Center.  CSCTC later became IRB based Cell Surgical Network which I also joined.  CSN of Florida is based at my 12,000 square foot licensed plastic surgery centre in Jacksonville.  We are now growing from our three founding members to other specialties.  The addition of a FDA IRB in the future may allow us to culture, expand and bank adipose derived stem cells.  At this point we would be able to fast track into the area of advanced 3D imaging and printing of tissues.  On a research level, this is what Dr. Lawrence Bonassar PhD of Cornell is studying.
Two years ago I integrated the Canfied Vectra XT™ 3D imaging system into my practice.  Surgical scaffolds for our stem cells currently include processed fat, PRP, synthetic fillers, textured implants and last year we were the first to use silk mesh (Seri™) as a stem cell scaffold.  This combination was applied in a major breast salvage procedure thereby avoiding a major autologous flap procedure.
The above patient benefited from several advanced technologies which I have been instrumental in developing during the past six years.  These include the SlimLipo non-surgical breast lift and body sculpting laser.  I was one of the first to integrate Palomar’s SlimLipo laser platform into my practice and pioneered its use in the breast.  3D imaging, Natrelle™ 410 gummy bear implants and Seri™ silk scaffold were also utilised.  Finally, 80 million counted viable stem cells were added to the silk mesh scaffold which resulted in 10 mm or more of native tissue regeneration.
"Our team at CSN of Florida are treating arthritic joints and sports injuries.  In the near future we will be treating spines, neurologic disorders, spinal injuries, myocardial infarctions, erectile disorder, interstitial cystitis and a host of other conditions utilising the patient’s own fat derived stem cells.
We are also on the fast track to integrate advanced 3D imaging with 3D printers so that we can possibly print out ears, knee menisci, heart valves and a host of other tissues with a living ink.  In my opinion, this is one of the major frontiers of medicine.
Why is a plastic surgeon the medical director/team leader of the stem cell team?  Nobel laureate Dr. Joseph Murray, with a team of 10 different specialists, performed the first kidney transplant in 1954.  Dr. Murray was a plastic surgeon.
Lewis J. Obi M.D., FRSA, is a board certified plastic surgeon who established the first licensed plastic surgery centre in Florida.  More recently he established a unique stem cell centre, Cell Surgical Network of Florida.  As an innovator, he has pioneered many procedures and recently worked extensively with lasers and also stem cells derived from adult fat.  He has lectured internationally on these topics.  His love and passion for art expressed through his international firm of Obiarts resulted in the induction of Dr. Obi as a fellow to the Royal Society of Art, London (FRSA) in 1986.  Obiarts has contributed world class art to dozens of major museums and institutions.

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