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Stem Cell Basics

Stem Cell Therapy (SCT)

This is our most advanced therapy.  It does not only trigger the healing process and accelerate it as with our PRP offering, but it also provides a very large number of stem cells, the key component to tissue generation.  Therefore, stem cell therapy is not only very effective at reducing symptoms such as pain, but in addition, it squarely addresses the causes by helping repair most or all of the damaged tissue.  It is thus the most potent option, but also the most costly.  It is also more invasive, yet still very safe.  Finally, it is takes longer to administer but also lasts longer, potentially reversing a deteriorating condition.

The therapy consists of harvesting stem cells from the areas of your pet’s body where they are plentiful and re-injecting them in the areas where they are needed most to replace aging or damaged cells, tissue and organs.  You will be guided through a customized therapy plan to determine where cells are extracted from and how those cells are reintroduced into the problem areas.

What are stem cells?

A stem cell is characterized by its ability to divide and create another cell like itself and by its potential to become many different types of cells. There are numerous classifications of stem cells but for this discussion, we will focus on adult stem cells.  These cells are your own pet’s cells, found in a number of tissues in their body.  They are part of the repair system for the body, providing the basic material where it is needed.  Stem cells create specialized cells to repair damaged cells at the site of an injury or replenish destroyed cell as a result of degenerative processes such as arthritis.

The mechanism by which stem cells initiate change within the body is complex.  When an injury occurs, chemical signals and pathways are created that lead stem cells to the area of trauma.  The stem cells then release growth factors and other chemicals that provide local healing, reduce inflammation and promote damaged tissue regeneration.

Our Stem cell therapy DOES NOT use Embryos.  When many people hear the words “stem cells,” they assume it is in reference to embryonic cells, or those taken from other animals, humans, or embryos.  We do not seek outside sources for stem cells.  Nor do we attempt to grow them in a laboratory.  Rather, we only use cells from your pet’s own body in our treatments.  There is no controversy: it is FDA approved and legal in the US.  We merely kick-start your body into doing what it does best: heal itself.  When the FDA authorizes stem cell multiplication through culturing, we will offer state-of-the-art services to take advantage of the increased potency and improved results associated with greater numbers of stem cells.  For now however, your pet is our only source of stem cells.  It is simple, effective and natural.

Which pets are good candidates?

Stem cells can regenerate tissue in organs as diversified as blood, skin, heart, cartilage to name but a few.  Therefore, Stem Cell Therapy is useful for a wide variety of ailments.  However, since it is focused on re-generating tissue, it is most beneficial for injuries requiring repair and for degenerative conditions requiring replacement, such as arthritis.  Soft tissue injuries and osteoarthritis are common conditions in pets. These injuries are due to the forces placed on the joints.  They are understandably more common in working animals because of the repetitive nature of the tasks required of them.  However, the degenerative arthritic process is a life-long condition for all animals that unfortunately progresses throughout their lives.  As effective as Stem Cell Therapy can be, it is still an uphill battle against aging, but one that can be won since it addresses not just the symptoms but also the causes.

Examples of good candidates for Stem Cell Therapy are animals that cannot tolerate or have not responded to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, animals that have early arthritis or have multiple joints affected by it, and animals that are otherwise not good candidates for orthopedic surgery.

What happens during Stem Cell Therapy?

The first step is to harvest stem cells from your pet.  Stem cells can be obtained from many sources.  Your pet typically has them in a number of tissues throughout their body.  Two sources in particular are commonly used: stem cells from fat, also referred to as Adipose Stem Cells (ASC) and stem cells from bone marrow, also referred to as Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC).

To harvest ASCs, a short quasi-surgical procedure is used to collect the subcutaneous or abdominal adipose (fat) tissue.  This can be thought of as a mini-liposuction.  The benefits are that fat yields a high stem cell count and it is a renewable source that can be tapped repeatedly.

To harvest BMAC, one has to tap into your pet’s bone marrow, typically from the hip area.  BMAC stem cells are arguably more potent, but they are lesser in numbers, and some practitioners prefer to limit the procedure to one or twice just in case bone marrow regeneration is not as effective as expected.

Once the Stem Cell solution is ready, your pet is placed under a local or short general anesthesia and the solution is injected into the target area(s).  A single injection can thus be administered.  However, multiple injections, sometimes 10-15 different ones, can greatly benefit your pet by covering the entire area in need of healing.  The number and placement of the individual injections depends on the severity and duration of your pet’s injury.

This procedure is usually confined to a single session.  If your pet’s condition is so serious that multiple sessions are needed, we will discuss that possibility and offer packages when appropriate.

A follow-up visit is scheduled approximately two weeks after the initial treatment.  At that time, the veterinarian will conduct an evaluation and if needed discuss the possibility of additional treatments.  A single treatment should be enough for most common ailments.  Injections are safe and can be combined with other treatments, medications and supplements if desired.

What should I expect after Stem Cell Therapy?

For most pets, the procedure only takes a few hours and you can both come home immediately after.  Once the numbing effects of anesthesia subside, your pet will experience some soreness at the site of the treatment.  As with most pain, icing the injection area for 15 minutes 2-3 times a day for the first few days will help ease the pain and inflammation.  Most pets experience noticeable improvement in their mobility within a week or two and can resume normal activity.

For in-depth scientific information, please CLICK HERE or use the Library menu “Stem Cell Science” option.