We live in an information age, in which most if not all of human knowledge is available at our fingertips. We need only know where to look to gather this information. While much of this information is reputable and presumed to be true, there is a lot of misinformation out there masquerading as fact or pseudo-fact. Whereas once we turned to “experts” (either as educated professionals or trustworthy publications), to answer our questions, now the bulk of knowledge is at our fingertips, literally, through our personal screens at the touch of a button.
Unfortunately, with this plethora of available information comes a caveat. In this modern era of knowledge, we often fall victim to disintermediation. This breakdown of the line between producer and consumer is seen not only in economics but in the generation of content as well. Anyone can purport to be an expert on anything by simply self-publishing content on the subject. In the field of medicine, this can lead to the rise of unsafe practices in the pursuit of undeserved wealth, often at the expense of the patient. In our most recent blog post, we outlined 5 things to keep in mind when considering Stem Cell therapy. Included in this blog was the unsettling fact that some practitioners bolster their numbers and provide fallacious patient testimonies to try and attract patients without the prerequisite information or knowledge to tell the difference between professionals and charlatans. While the “5 things to consider” article provides valuable information, it is passive in nature and only addresses the nature and formula of stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy does indeed offer an effective and low-risk therapy modality that has been proven to improve patients’ quality of life, this is only the case when the procedure is carried out in a sterile environment under the care of a skilled physician and his clinical team. It is actually easier to give the impression that these conditions exist than to actually carry out the therapy, and the only way to avoid a potentially unsafe procedure is for the patient to be not only well-informed but also cautious.
With this in mind, it is even more important that patients have the necessary information to make an informed decision, as well as knowing what questions to ask a provider before making that decision. Be vigilant yet not suspicious, you are your own most valuable advocate. Ask the practitioner who will be performing your stem cell therapy these questions (as applicable) and don’t accept any answer which seems flippant or dismissive. In this age of information, we all must be well-informed and be able to discern fact from convenient fiction.
- What is your medical team’s background?
This question is especially important. With new clinical settings opening all the time, regenerative medicine is definitely a growing industry. Unfortunately, some non-professionals may see it as the path to easy money. That’s why it is especially important to ensure that your medical team has the necessary experience and training and that they are headed by an experienced, well-credentialed physician, with procedures performed in a sterile environment. Your provider should talk to you about your medical conditions and expectations early in the process, and inform you clearly of your options. There is no “miracle cure,” so don’t accept any testimonials or accounts that claim otherwise. Be sure to ask the provider how many of these procedures have been performed, as well as how many cases or conditions similar to your own have been addressed there. In addition, ask about the expectations in your own case.
- Have you helped patients like me?
Along the same lines, it is important that your doctor has experience in core medicine and in treating condition/conditions like yours, understanding that rare conditions may surface very infrequently. Providers may specifically research osteopathic conditions, re-growing cartilage, and bone with stem cells. Others may be interested in rebuilding heart muscles or address sports injuries, while others still may be dedicated to helping those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. While stem cells can be effective in treating a wide variety of conditions, they can only do this when administered by a proficient medical professional with knowledge, understanding, and experience in dealing with those various conditions.
- Where are the stem cells taken from?
While we at the Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center primarily work with autologous adipose-derived stem cells, other clinics may operate differently. For instance, Orthopedic-focused clinics can harvest their stem cells from bone marrow. It is especially important that you ensure that your clinic of choice doesn’t claim to use stem cells from actual embryos, as there are currently no FDA approved uses for these cells, and their use is strictly limited to certain research centers. Umbilical cord stem cells are a different category. Also, be wary of clinics who use unharvested stem cells they purchase elsewhere (this the bulk of clinics that use umbilical, placental or amniotic products). To maximize efficacy and reduce the risk of rejection, viral infections (known and unknown) and giving else’s genetic material, your provider had better use your own stem cells within hours following extraction. Autologous stem cells have been proven to help your body heal itself!
- Are all procedures performed on-site? And in the United States?
As important as ensuring that you get to use your own cells is the fact that they are taken and returned to you within the same facility. Many clinics outsource their extraction procedures, which is not the recommended form. Not only does it add a level of inconvenience to the patient/taking longer, but also the quality control standards are not within the clinic’s direct supervision. Even a great doctor cannot adequately compensate for badly handled or contaminated stem cell samples. Having an onsite lab with staff under the direct supervision of your chosen doctor is the key to ensuring a successful round of stem cell therapy.
- Can I receive Stem Cell Therapy on the Gulf Coast?
Why yes you can! The skilled and experienced team at Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center harvests adipose-derived stem cells as SVF (Stromal Vascular Fraction) from your own fat and rapidly reintroduces them, with minimal processing, through a safe deployment process. SVF is an abundant and reliable source of stem cells. Before deployment, they pass through a 100-micron filter to ensure on particles or clumps get into the body.
It is very important for us that you feel comfortable and that you come to trust the expertise of your clinical team, and that you have confidence in their ability to address your condition and expectations. However, you should never be discouraged from asking questions and seeking clarity as you gather information. Beware of practitioners who promise “miracle cures” or cannot adequately answer your questions. Be wary of anyone who promises the moon but can’t tell you how they plan to get there, or makes you feel like addressing your questions is below them. Once you have familiarized yourself with the basic facts about the field of regenerative medicine, as outlined in our previous blogs, and have asked the pertinent questions, you are ready to make an informed decision about future stem cell therapy options. Take the time to make a well thought out and thoroughly-researched choice, and you won’t be sorry. Good luck and good healing from the Gulf Coast Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.
Call (886)885-4823 or visit our website to find out more.