Loss of body contours, which are shaped by adipose tissue, can occur in patients due to trauma, such as burns or blast injuries, following removal of tumours or congenital abnormalities. Patients in this situation often suffer from both the physical and psychological impact of tissue loss and normal body contour.
Our aim is to reconstruct the missing tissue and provide a contour and appearance that is acceptable to the patient and will reduce the physical and psychological impact, thus improving quality of life.
Currently the reconstruction of soft tissue is achieved by using either autologous tissue flaps or the use of alloplastic implants. Flap surgery can result in significant donor tissue site morbidity and synthetic devices can fail over time due to shell rupture or foreign body reaction.
Regenerative strategies using autologous adipose derived stem cells (ADSCs) may be the key in order to restore contour to traumatised areas. ADSCs are available in relative abundance and their harvest causes minimal donor site trauma.
The use of ADSCs alone however is unpredictable and it is necessary to provide a support or template to maintain tissue bulk whilst ADSCs proliferate and then differentiate into mature adipocytes to restore the volume of the adipose tissue.
Together with our collaborators at the University of Brighton, we are developing novel scaffolds which are made from low cost materials and which can be custom-shaped to each individual defect site.
Our aim is to incorporate autologous ADSCs into these bespoke scaffolds, which can regenerate the missing adipose tissue and contour.
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