How to increase stem cell survival

Even if stem cells have an intrinsic capacity to create new tissue, they are unlikely to do so if the recipient environment is not conducive to regeneration.
What can patients do to increase cell survival?

Anything that improves general health, immune status and circulation will improve the effectiveness of stem cell treatment.

  1. Exercise – Has been shown to increase the number of stem cells in the circulation. A vigorous circulation is essential for cell growth. The exception is osteoarthritis patients who need to rest the joint for the first month.
  2. Stop smoking – Smoking causes inflammation which makes every disease process worse and requires correction by the stem cells that are being injected, diverting them from the action you want.
  3. Diet – Everything that you eat will have an impact on cell survival. Fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients will actively support an optimal environment for cell growth. Saturated fats and high GI carbohydrates have been shown to be inflammatory and have a negative effect.
  4. Supplements – There are many supplements that look very promising. These include:-
  • Resveratrol
  • Carnatine
  • Colostrum Fish Oil
  • Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants

After your procedure, you can expect:

  • Swelling and bruising may be present in the donor site following liposuction. As the area is relatively small this will be minor. Discomfort will last a few days.
  • Minor swelling may be apparent for three or more months. Bruising may last two to four weeks
  • You must have an adult friend drive you to and from the surgery and stay with you for the first 24 hours. You cannot go home alone in a taxi.
  • You should not sign documents, make important decisions, or undertake potentially harmful activities in the 24 hours following surgery.
  • Plan to rest for the remainder of the day of surgery. The following day you may feel lethargic but be able to care for yourself.
  • You will have drainage from the incision sites for the first 24 to 48 hours. This is normal; it is the extra tumescent anaesthetic solution used during surgery. There will be some blood mixed with the anaesthetic, which may make it look more dramatic. Some people may leak very large volumes. This is normal the first day. DON’T PANIC! Cover your mattress with a plastic sheet with a large beach towel on top. If this drainage does not stop after 48hrs there may be superficial infection – RING ME!
  • Try to drink a glass of water every hour after surgery until bedtime. If you do not drink enough, you may faint. This is more likely when you take the dressings or compression garment off if you have one. Avoid high salt drinks as these may cause swelling. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as these may interfere with medication and residual lignocaine.
  • You may be discharged wearing a surgical compression garment. If this is the case, this should be worn for about 1 week; however, it may be worn longer if you feel the need for more support.
  • The morning after surgery remove the garment and take a shower.
  • If you need to wash the garment, you can do so, but restrict your activities whilst the garment is drying. Most people find it comfortable to lie down and rest whilst they are waiting for the garment to dry.
  • You may return to most normal activities within the first few days. Avoid strenuous exercise for the first 2 weeks as a minimum. Return to work is dependent upon the type of work you do, but will generally be after 1 or 2 weeks. For Osteoarthritis patients, these suggestions are different and you will need to specifically read the “Rest, exercise & Physio after Stem Cells” below.
  • Do not stay in bed on the day after surgery. Movement will help to reduce the swelling and speed up your recovery.
  • Dizziness is common after an anaesthetic. If you experience dizziness, before getting out of bed, sit up slowly and rest on the edge of the bed until it settles, before standing.
  • Pain is usually minimal and controlled with paracetamol. Avoid aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications as these may produce bruising.
  • Avoid soaking in water until the wounds have healed. This includes bathtubs, swimming pools, and spas.
  • Nausea after anaesthesia is common.
  • Avoid smoking for 12 hours postoperatively as it may increase the risk of dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
  • Low-grade fever is normal after surgery. If your temperature continues over 38°C, contact us immediately. This may indicate infection and should be dealt with promptly.
  • Call us the day after surgery for a progress report.
  • Constipation may occur with Panadeine Forte and dehydration.

Fat harvesting disrupts the lymph channels through the fat. Fluid will collect causing some swelling. The lymph channels will repair in one week and the swelling will go down over the next week. Some people get hardening in the area where the fat was collected which may take 2 months to resolve.

Rest, Exercise And Physiotherapy After Stem Cells

The recovery stage after cell therapy can be quite confusing. If you have had arthritis for several years the pain limits muscle use. Decreased muscle use leads to muscle weakness and wasting. With this, the tendons lose strength and there is increased risk of tears to the tendons. This weakness means that injuries are more common. Twisting injuries can cause sprains with stretching of the ligaments and slowly the joint becomes more unstable exposing you to the risk of more injuries.

Typically we try to protect our joints by reducing the range of movement. Walking “stiff legged” reduces pain but shortens the tendons over time.

Typically the responding patients will notice their arthritic pain improves in the first 2 to 6 weeks; however, this uncovers pain in the tendons and other structures which have built up over time.

Joint pain can block muscle growth by preventing use of the muscle which then atrophies (shrinks in size). Removing that pain allows the muscle to grow again. Muscles have a very good blood flow and can growth back to normal or better size in a few months. Tendons and ligaments have a poor blood supply and take a lot longer to regain strength (often 2 to 3 years). These stronger muscles can then pull the tendon resulting in damage and sometimes even tearing them open. This is referred to as tendonitis and we see it in half the patients we treat.

When the cells are first administered we have seen that the patients who get the best results are those who have been able to rest the joint for the first month. Poor results are seen in those patients who continue to load the joint. Walking around in your home is ok but walking around the block and shopping excursions are detrimental.

After the first month, the pain will have decreased and your level of activity will spontaneously increase. Many patients do not notice this but family and friends can see it. The muscles will respond quickly to the decreased pain by getting stronger. Tendons do not gain strength as rapidly as muscles and it is common for these to become inflamed, painful and tender to the touch. When this happens it is a sign that you have been too active and you need to rest. If the tendonitis is persistent then it is possible to accelerate recovery by injecting the tendons with platelets (PRP). In this second month, the patients who are the most active are those who get the poorest outcome. It is important to slow down for the first two months.

After the second month hydrotherapy can be useful to stretch the muscles and tendons and increase range of motion for your joints. This will reduce stiffness. Physiotherapists are very helpful at this time.

After the third month you will benefit from muscle strengthening. This can be done by yourself but most patients will benefit from the guidance of a physiotherapist or personal trainer.

Your muscles and tendons will be weak because joint pain has limited use for many years. Once the joint pain goes you will use the muscles more and they will come up to strength fairly quickly. Tendons take much longer to strengthen and are likely to give pain during your recovery. This is a sign that you are overdoing things and you need to rest more.