Stem-cell research hints at better looking cosmetic and reconstructive surgery

Stem-cell researchers have shown how cosmetic surgery, such as wrinkle removal and breast augmentation, might be improved with natural implants that keep their original size and shape better than synthetics.

Cosmetic surgery might be performed with stem-cell generated natural tissues instead of synthetic implants. Saline and silicone implants for breast augmentation may rupture, leak, and interfere with breast cancer detection on mammograms. Stem-cell generated natural tissue implants should avoid these problems.

Reconstructive surgery to replace tissues lost to cancer or other disease could benefit from stem-cell generated natural implants that do not shrink or lose their shape. Studies have shown that conventional soft-tissue implants can lose 40 percent to 60 percent of their volume over time. Examples are breast tissue reconstruction after breast cancer surgery and facial soft-tissue reconstruction following cancer or trauma surgeries.

Natural implants often require separate surgical procedures from a healthy location of the patient's body to obtain tissue for constructing the implant. The stem-cell approach does not require extensive surgery because cells needed for the implant are obtained in a less invasive needle procedure.

Whitaker investigator Jeremy Mao, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Chicago presented his results at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., saying that a stem-cell approach might eliminate the need for the additional surgery and may produce a long-lasting, shapely, and natural implant. The research will be published in April in the journal Tissue Engineering.

Mao's research group started with a line of human stem cells taken from the bone marrow of a healthy, young volunteer. These mesenchymal stem cells can transform themselves into many different cell types under appropriate conditions, including those that form cartilage, bone,

Contact: Frank Blanchard
Whitaker Foundation

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