What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes spasm and inflammation of the lungs. It often starts in early childhood and is frequently a life-long disease. Symptoms often improve with age, but some patients do not develop asthma until adulthood. Asthma patients experience spasm in the airways of their lungs called bronchospasm. This can make it hard to breathe, especially getting air out of the lungs. The airways also become inflamed, often producing large amounts of sputum. This further complicates the breathing problems. Allergies often play an important role in asthma symptoms. Standard medical care for asthma has improved over the years, but many people still struggle with their symptoms despite modern medications.
What Treatments Are Available for Asthma?
There are a number of effective treatments for asthma. A common list includes inhalers for the bronchospasm, inhaled steroids for the inflammation, oral steroids, antihistamines and other drugs that affect the immune system. With proper use, most patients can achieve good to excellent. Unfortunately, even with good medical care, some patients have asthma symptoms that affect their lifestyle. Sometimes these effects can be severe. Some asthma patients need more help.
What Can Stem Cells Do for Asthma?
Stem cells from the patient’s own fat can be effective in improving asthma symptoms for patients that medications are inadequate or have too many side effects. Stem cells have a strong effect on the immune system and can be highly effective in reducing asthma symptoms. Over 75% of patients have seen improvement in the Cell Surgical Network database. See our blogs What are Stem Cells? and Understanding Adipose-Derived Stem Cells
Stem cells from your own fat can have a powerful effect on our immune system. Typically, these cells are highly anti-inflammatory. Many asthma patients see a rapid improvement due to this strong anti-inflammatory effect. Since this effect can last for years, long term response is not unusual.
Where Do You Get the Stem Cells for Asthma?
We obtain stem cells from the patient’s own fat. We use a special syringe system and liposuction about 2 tablespoons of fat under local anesthesia. The cells are processed in our office in about 2 hours. We then give the cells back to the patient both by IV and inhaled. We use a hand-held nebulizer for inhalation therapy. The entire process takes about 3-4 hours. You will leave with a bandage over the site where the fat is taken. Even very slender people typically have enough fat for the harvest process.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Stem Cells for Asthma?
Almost any asthma patient that does not have a medical problem that would prevent them from having stem cells. Problems that preclude stem cell therapy include active cancer or infection. Also, persons on anti-coagulants (blood thinners) may need to adjust them before stem cell therapy. Ideal candidates are those who are poorly controlled using their asthma or are having significant side effects from their asthma medications. Persons with frequent hospitalizations for asthma are often good candidates.
Cost of Stem Cell Therapy for Asthma
The cost of the initial treatment ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. The range in cost is dependent on the complexity of delivering the cells back to you. For example, spine conditions require multiple physicians to deliver the cells back to your body and this requires an increase in cost as multiple doctors are involved in the procedure. For many people the initial treatment is all that is needed; however, for some conditions, subsequent treatments may be required and these are done at a reduced fee.
What Is the Recovery Like for Stem Cells for Asthma?
Recovery is typically very easy. There is some mild bruising and swelling at the site the fat is removed. This can last for 1-2 weeks. Most patients receive a minor pain reliever for post-op pain, but it is usually unnecessary. The process of giving back the cells may have some bruising at the IV site, but otherwise, no recovery is necessary.