NEW WINDSOR – An exciting medical technology that represents a new option for orthopedic patients has come to the New Windsor and the larger Hudson River Valley. In the minimally invasive procedure called LIPOGEMS, a patient’s own body fat is easily and painlessly removed from the belly or “love handles.” The fat then is washed and resized before being injected to injured or damaged joints. The “repurposed” body fat helps provide cushion to help support the healing process of damaged or injured tissue.
Orthopaedic issues impact patients of all ages. Many patients have tried physical therapy, NSAIDS, and other conservative’s therapies and are not ready for orthopaedic surgery. The FDA-cleared LIPOGEMS procedure, which provides crucial cushioning for the body, can be administered both as a stand-alone option to major, invasive surgery, or in combination with it.
At present, LIPOGEMS is offered only by a select few medical providers in the United States. Leading the LIPOGEMS introduction in the Hudson Valley Area is Wasik Ashraf, DO of Crystal Run Clinic.
“In the Hudson Valley area, we have many people that are retired firefighters and police officers. We also have a Hasidic and Yiddish population up here that would prefer other options to major, invasive surgery,” Dr. Ashraf said. “In the office, I offer it to my patients have tried other conservative therapies and who are not ready for major invasive surgery. If patients need arthroscopic surgery, LIPOGEMS is an excellent complementary procedure, one that helps support tissue healing.
“I work with my patients to figure out what their goals are and how their orthopaedic condition is affecting their quality of life. Once I understand their goals, we talk about the different options that may work best for them. I tell my patients why they may benefit from the procedure, explain the reasons why, then let them decide if this is right for them, Dr. Ashraf added.
The cutting-edge LIPOGEMS procedure begins with a simple minimally invasive procedure to harvest the adipose (the clinical name for fat), usually from the patient’s belly or love handles, where there usually is an abundance of it. The fat is washed using the LIPOGEMS system using only saline to remove the oils, contaminants and blood from the harvested fat and is resized into smaller clusters, maintaining its beneficial properties. It is then ready to be injected into the damaged tissue that needs healing. Thanks to this processing, the fat retains its natural, beneficial healing properties.
One LIPOGEMS patient, New Yorker Fran Galu, was on the verge of ankle surgery when she sought out Dr. Ashraf for a second opinion and any possible options. “Dr. Ashraf told me about the LIPOGEMS procedure. At first I was hesitant, but as time went on and steroid injections were not lasting long, surgery was looking like my only option.
“I decided to give LIPOGEMS a try as a less invasive procedure without the [major] surgical rehabilitation. The procedure itself was comfortable and I had limited to no bruising. I’m not one to like needles, but the team in the room kept me very comfortable and at ease.
“I had injections into my right ankle, my right knee and my left hip. And just recently, I was able to enjoy a vacation!” she said, grinning.
Dr. Ashraf learned about the LIPOGEMS system from one of the country’s most eminent orthopedists. “I was first exposed to this technology by my Fellowship director, Dr. Champ Baker Jr. I found LIPOGEMS interesting because it was the simplest and most compliant (with governmental regulations and FDA clearance) way to use fat.”
“LIPOGEMS fits the best way possible for my patients because it offers a simple and efficient procedure that uses their own fat.” In fact, the LIPOGEMS system is so efficient that a single harvesting session can often produce enough body fat to conduct multiple injections to various injured or damaged joints. Patients also appreciate that LIPOGEMS procedure can be performed in a doctor’s office, often in less than an hour.
Board-certified Dr. Ashraf specializes in Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. He graduated magna cum laude with a BS in Biology from New York Institute of Technology. He earned his medical degree at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and received orthopedic surgical training at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York. Later, he received Fellowship training in one of his passions, Sports Medicine, at the Hughston Foundation in Columbus, Georgia, where he met and worked under Dr. Baker.
Widely active in the community. Dr. Ashraf helps treat high school football teams in Roslyn, Manhasset and Hewlett, New York. He also promotes local outreach on orthopedic issues, working with a trio of community programs.
LIPOGEMS is surging in popularity, especially among patients seeking another option to major, invasive surgery, or who aren’t candidates for a major operation, or whose orthopedic ailments or injuries keep them from enjoying everyday activities, athletic or otherwise. Its FDA clearance is significant because these days, orthopedic patients must adopt a buyer beware attitude. Like Fran Galu, who at first was understandably skeptical. Not anymore.
“Thank you, Dr. Ashraf,” she said recently. “for the recommendation and for performing the procedure.”