Frequently Asked Questions
The Regenerative Clinic team aims to make your patient journey as seamless as possible and we are committed to providing you a personalised service and the highest standard of care.
We can offer you an initial free 10 minute telephone call with one of our consultants to discuss your condition and answer your questions directly. Please click here to complete the form on this page to book your session.
Please read a selection of answers to our most frequently asked questions around costs and pricing.
We hope you find our answers helpful. Please do call us on 0330 2233332 with with any queries that you may have, we are always happy to answer questions.
About Stem Cells
The human body is made of a variety of different types of cells that come together to perform various functions. In comparison, this is much like a city. In order for the city to function there are groups of people that perform different tasks. Policeman keep the peace, cleaners keep the streets clean, water work engineers make sure that households have water and healthcare professionals look after the sick. Different groups of cells in the body perform functions in much the same way. The kidneys filter and clean the blood, the muscles allow us to move our bodies and our skeleton has a support function which works in synergy with the muscles to allow us to move.
Similar to how individuals can be trained into different professionals, stem cells are groups of cells that have the potential to become any of the specialist cells in the body such as muscle, skin, bone, cartilage and blood.
What are embryonic and adult Stem Cells?
Embryonic stem cells
Embryonic stem cells are derived from the undifferentiated inner mass of an embryo. They are able to multiply and grow into a human being when in the womb.
The use of embryonic stem cells for medical treatment is currently against the legislation. They are under very strict conditions with scientists being able to study them but not use them in any treatments unless part of a research study.
Pain in other parts of the body, particularly the lower back, can also cause pain to appear in your hip – this is known as referred pain.
Adult stem cells
Adult stem cells are found in the fully-grown human and have potential to differentiate into various tissues such as nerves, muscles, bone and cartilage.
These cells are less versatile than embryonic stem cells but can divide to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues.
About Lipogems® and the Regenerative Clinic
How long has procedure been available and used in the UK?
This procedure has been available worldwide for approximately 7 years. In the UK, it was first started by the Regenerative Clinic 2.5 years ago.
How many people have you treated? Do you Know how many in the UK have had it in total?
At the Regenerative Clinic, we have treated approximately 5,000 patients and a total of 900 joints. We are by far the largest and busiest group in the Europe and the UK using this technology. There have been approximately a further 100 individuals who have been treated in other centres across the UK, which of course, do these in much lower volume. Worldwide, it has been used to treat over 35,000 patients with surgeons all reporting great results.
Why isn.t this treatment available on the NHS or private madical insurance?
Although fully FDA approved, this treatment is still undergoing assessment. There are many studies that clearly demonstrate its efficacy but in order for new and novel treatments to become available on the NHS or covered via private medical insurance, there is invariably rather complex processes that may take a number of years before acceptance. A good example of this is the use of platelet rich plasma which, although having been around for approximately 25 years, is only recently finding its way to the NHS and is now being offered across various NHS trusts in the UK. There still continues to be some insurance companies that do not approve platelet rich plasma despite overwhelming evidence of its benefits.
Have you trearted patients with auto-immune diseases?
We have treated a number of patients with auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis that predominantly effects joints, however, the numbers are small, some have responded, and some have not but it is difficult to draw general conclusions about autoimmune conditions.
Where can I read your Governance Statement?
Click here to read The Regenerative Clinic Governance Statements
The Lipogems® procedure
What does the treatment entail?
The cells that we’re interested in collecting are called pericytes (Mesenchymal cells) as these cells have naturally regenerative properties, there’s a very high concentration of these cells in your fat tissue, what we call adipose tissue. Quite simply what we do in the Lipogems® procedure is we remove a small amount of your fat tissue from your tummy. We then put this tissue in a closed loop system and wash it with a saline fluid to get rid of any of the impurities and then re-inject the tissue back in the joint being treated. The pericytes then get to work at regenerating and rejuvenating the damaged structure including cartilage. It also helps lubricate the joint and reduce inflammation. It can also act on nerve endings in your joint to relieve some pain. The procedure itself is performed in just under one hour and you are free to leave the clinic the very same day.
Do I need to go under general anaesthetic?
We carry out nearly all of our procedures with our patients sedated, this means they are awake but very comfortable. Throughout the procedure an anesthetist will look after you to ensure you are happy. You can opt for local anesthetic only or alternatively we carry out some procedures under general anaesthetic e.g. facial and spinal treatments.
How much fat do you remove?
It’s a very small amount of fat, around 50ml, around the size of an espresso cup this is for one joint. This is then reduced to approx 5ml which is injected into each joint.
What are the benefits this procedure over a (ex.Full/partial hip replacment)?
The Lipogems® procedure is a good alternative to major replacement surgery. The procedure is minimally invasive with a minimum recovery time. You do not have to go under general anesthetic and they are comparatively priced.
Why do you harvest the stem cells from the fat tissue and not from the bone marrow?
The harvesting of stem cells from bone marrow is an invasive treatment, conducted under general anesthetic that can be very painful. The mesenchmyal cells present in the fat tissue are easier and less painful to access. There is also research to show that the quality of stem cells in bone marrow decreases significantly as you get older, especially in women. Age and gender has no effect on the quality of stem cells present in fat tissue. Both methods of harvesting have been tried, tested and have proven to be very affective.
The Lipogems® consultation
I would like to discuss an additional joint that is troubling me, will that be possible?
Yes of course, we have a large team of orthopaedic consultants who specialise in different areas of the body. We can arrange for you to have some imaging done of the extra joint if you do not have any already and for you to meet with the relevant specialist.
What if I am not suitable for the Lipogems procedure. is there a point of having a consultation?
Our clinicians are orthopaedic surgeon consultants who are specialists in joint preservation and rejuvenation. They will be able to discuss all traditional orthopaedic surgery and other regenerative options with you, not just Lipogems®. If the clinician thinks you are not suitable for Lipogems® they will suggest an alternative course of treatment.
The outcome of Lipogems®
Of those treated, what percentage is successful and effective? What are the levels of success?
We have kept a registry of all of the patients that have been treated and we have found that 75% of all patients treated have had a positive outcome with improvements in both pain scores as well as functional scores. The level of improvement for the treatment in our knee arthritis patients has been equivalent to the improvement seen in a total knee replacement in severe arthritic group.
How long does it take to feel any benefit of the procedure? How long does it take to gain full benefit?
There are a number of different patterns of response to this treatment. There are some individuals who have an immediate effect with a profound reduction in their symptoms. Others demonstrate an initial increase in their symptoms following the injection but then things settle down and they slowly improve. Interestingly, some patients having hip Lipogems have a slower response with sometimes a 3 week period before the benefits start appearing. In some of our patients, they continue to improve after 3 months. Most patients improve from 6 weeks and we tend to see patients improving most between 3 and 4 months after the procedure. This may be due to the fact that by reduction of the pain in the joint, the muscles then start regaining some of their strength and the control which is achieved by the strengthening of these muscles further stabilises the joint improving symptoms.
If successful, how long does it last?
This treatment has been undertaken by a number of our colleagues in Europe for almost 4 years. Some of those treated have reached 3 years and it appears that in those who respond, in the first year, this response may well be maintained for up to 3 years. Some feel that a “booster” injection of Lipogems may be necessary at 2 years but the numbers for these are small and are only the personal case series of these surgeons.
Are there any possible negative outcomes? If it doesn’t work, does it impact future surgery?
We have not noted any adverse outcomes. In cases where the treatment has not worked, it has been the natural progression of the disease. This treatment does not interfere with any future interventions required for the knee. There is no evidence that it will interfere with having a total knee replacement.
What are the potential side effects long and short term?
The procedure is very safe and the risks are minimal. All procedures including an injection do come with risks. However, some patient experience mild bruising from the fat harvest site. The biggest risk is that this doesn’t work and this is 25%.
Are there any circumstances or conditions where it is less or more likely to work?
In our experience only 25% do not respond and it is difficult to predict which patients will not benefit. However, it does seem that the patients across all grades of arthritis benefit in a similar way with 3 out of every 4 having reduction in pain and improvement in function. Currently we find it difficult to predict the responders and non-responders prior to undertaking the procedure.
I have recently had steroid injections, will the effect the outcome of the procedure?
The effect of steroids on the Lipogems is thought to be detrimental and not advised. We have no direct experience of this because we advise patients to leave a time of at least 3 months between the steroid injection and the Lipogems treatment in order to make sure that the joint returns to a normal state, therefore gaining full benefit.
I have very severe arthritis (bone on bone), is this treatment suitable for me?
The Lipogems® technology has been used successfully on patients with all stages of arthritis, that being said, each case is unique and that is what is so important about the consultation. Our clinicians can offer all conventional surgery but are also specialists in joint preservation and rejuvenation and will be able to assess your individual suitability for the procedure. This is why the clinical assessment is so important and it means the patient is receiving some of the top care in the country.
I have had a total or partial joint replacement, can the Lipogems still help?
We don’t generally advocate injecting into joints that have had a joint replacement. In this case, we would certainly recommend a review by one of our specialists before any further treatment is advised.
What happens if it doesn’t work, what else can you offer me?
If the treatment does not work, we can try other forms of injections including platelet rich plasma and hyaluronic acid. In some cases, the injection of these other substances can trigger a response. In cases where there is a deformity in the limb which is a cause for mechanical symptoms, this can be corrected with osteotomy surgery and in cases of instability around the joints, particularly in the shoulder, the elbow and the ankle joint we can also offer reconstructive surgery to stabilise the joint and mitigate the symptoms.
After the Lipogems® procedure
After my procedure will I be able to return to normal activities? Do I need to stop exercising?
Prior to the procedure it is important to continue with your normal activities and exercise. If these activities cause pain, it is important to reduce the activities to avoid pain but by exercising and continuing to be active, muscle tone and strength is maintained and balance will continue to improve. These are very important features in the post-operative rehabilitation as well. Once the pain in the joint is reduced, it then becomes very important to exercise in order to regain muscle tone, muscle strength and then rehabilitate balance.
How long, if any time, will I need off work?
We advise patients to be prepared to take up to 2 weeks off. The purpose for this is the site of lipo-aspiration can be uncomfortable and will take a number of days to improve. Occasionally, if the joint has also become a little bit uncomfortable and swollen following the injection, it would be best to reduce activities to allow the joint to settle down. Post-op patients will experience a dull aching pain in the joint for 2-3 days, however the pain is not debilitating and can be managed with regular strength painkillers.
Is the outcomes of my procedure measured?
What if I am unhappy with the service or treatment provided?
As part of our on-going evaluation of your patient experience, we appreciate all feedback on your the service and/or treatment you received. If you are unhappy with the care you received, it is important to let us know. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Simon Checkley (CEO) directly on email@example.com. For more information, you can read our complaints policy.