Lichen sclerosis (LS) is a rare skin condition that most commonly occurs in younger women, but it can also afflict older women, men, and even children. This condition causes the skin around the genitalia and anus to become thin, atrophic and patchy; this can sometimes lead to blistering. The exact cause of LS is unknown, but may be related to hormonal activity or the autoimmune system. Though it is not contagious it can be highly distressing because its symptoms can be debilitating with pain, itch, difficult personal hygiene, and painful intercourse. It can also lead to scarring and narrowing from adhesions, and rarely, it may become cancerous—hence the importance of effective treatment for this chronic condition.
A physician can provide a diagnosis based on a physical examination and a biopsy of a small piece of affected skin. Traditional treatments include topical compounds like steroids, retinoids, immunosuppressants, light therapy, and the drastic surgical excision. Stem cell treatment joined the list of therapies fairly recently and is promising to be most effective among all the modalities. This new alternative can be performed on all patients without causing harm to the body or genitalia, and may be fast becoming the treatment of choice for most patients with significant, symptomatic disease.
Growth factors (GFs) are proteins secreted by stem cells, which abound in the stromal vascular fraction (SVF)—the liquid that contains the stem cells. GFs and other compounds in SVF have both anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects that help promote healing of the affected tissues. They induce and promote healing and modify immunity so favorably that even complications like infection are only theoretical.
To treat a patient with LS at Gulf Coast Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center, our specialist would harvest two ounces of fat from the patient’s own waistline by mini-liposuction, which takes a mere 20 minutes, with little discomfort. The SVF, which is packed with adult stem cells and growth factors, is then separated from the fat cells and used to impregnate the diseased skin. In addition, we use fat—mixed with a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) mix—as a graft, to help rejuvenate the genital area and add cushioning and texture. Following the treatment, we advise the application of AQ vaginal rejuvenation cream (for its natural growth factors), to restore the health and functionality of the vagina and vulva, for added benefit. Thus, our stem cell therapy package can be highly beneficial to the healing of skin abnormalities caused by Lichen sclerosis.
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