NEW BERN - A doctor in New Bern is using stem cells from a patients own body fat to heal injuries.
Dr. Angelo Tellis uses a new procedure, it's a type of regenerative medicine that takes fat from a patient's body, then in a special mixture, is injected back into the body to spur healing. According to Tellis, stem cells grow naturally in fat. Using those stem cells, the body's natural healing processes can take injuries, such as sports injuries, and heal them naturally.
"It's called regenerative medicine," Tellis said. "The idea of it being we can harvest your body's own natural healing capabilities and use that to repair, restore and rebuild tissue."
Tellis said it was discovered that body fat contained stem cells in the early 2000's. Since then, doctors have started to use the cells to perform this type of procedure.
"It's minimally invasive which is one thing I like," Tellis said. "It's also very natural, there's no artificial substances that we put inside your body."
First, body fat is extracted from the patient's body through liposuction. The fat is taken and impurities are separated from it. The patient also has a blood sample removed from their body. That sample is separated as well. Tellis then takes the platelets from the blood and mixes them with the fat stem cells. That mixture is injected into the body at the site of the injury.
"It's a process that builds over time," Tellis said. "Around the three month point about 80% of people are significantly improved and people continue up to six months out, where the healing process is still ongoing."
Fat can be taken from pretty much anywhere in the body. Because of this, Tellis said, many patients also ask to have some cosmetic work done as the the procedure happens.
"Originally we started with this limited procedure and eventually it became 'can you do this, or can you do that?' And it just sort of grew from there," Tellis said.
Tellis said he may be the only doctor performing this type of procedure in Eastern North Carolina.