Frequently asked questions



What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are primitive cells which can develop into different types of tissue and are an important part of our normal development, maintenance, and healing processes.   These cells are found throughout the body.  There are many different types of stem cells used in research and clinical settings.  Our practice uses your own (autologous) mesenchymal stem cells to help with healing and recovery after injuries.  These cells are used to promote healing and reduce inflammation, and do not necessarily “grow” into new tissue.  We do not use embryonic stem cells.  At SSCI, we prefer to NOT use other human tissue sources (allogenic), such as birth tissues, as a source of stem cells, since their characterization and compatibility can be inconsistent. Nevertheless, there are rare clinical situations where this may the best option for certain patients.


How do Stem Cells Work?

There are several mechanisms by which stem cells can help with healing and recovery.  Some stem cells may engraft into the injured tissue and help with regeneration.  Stem cells also secrete numerous biomolecules which diminish inflammation and pain.  Finally, stem cells function as “master orchestrators” of the healing process by secreting biological signals which instruct nearby tissue to activate dormant stem cells, begin tissue repair, diminish pain, stop chronic inflammatory processes, and begin tissue healing and recovery.


Are Stem Cells a "Miracle Cure" for everything?

Absolutely not.  In the area of orthopedic medicine, mesenchymal stem cell and PRP treatments can be an excellent option to help reduce symptoms and enhance natural healing.  These treatments tend to be more effective in the early stages of arthritis.   Severe joint damage, deformity,  and degeneration cannot be reversed using stem cells.  Nevertheless, many patients note significant symptomatic improvement despite severe joint degeneration.  It is important to undergo a comprehensive evaluation prior to considering treatment.  Some conditions do not respond to these treatments.


What are the Common Sources of Autologous (your own) Stem Cells?

Worldwide, the most common sources of autologous mesenchymal stem cells are from bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissues.  At SSCI, bone marrow is our preferred primary source of stem cells.  This can be safely and easily obtained by bone marrow aspiration.  At SSCI, procedures are carried out under local anesthesia, and with mild oral analgesia, making the process usually well tolerated.  Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) is also available for improved pain control.


What is the Difference between PRP and Stem Cells?

Platelet Rich Plasma is prepared directly from blood and does not involve adipose or bone marrow collection.  Instead, blood is centrifuged to concentrate platelets and mononuclear cells, while removing red cells.  Platelets release many of same healing biomolecules as stem cells, but platelets expire after releasing their contents, while stem cells live on for months, releasing growth factors over time.  Stem cell treatments usually have a longer durability of effect (often lasting 2 years) compared to PRP (often lasting 6 months).  Nevertheless, PRP alone can be very effective, especially for less severe injuries and degeneration.  PRP is simpler and less costly to prepare.  At SSCI, we use PRP as both a primary treatment, and as a supportive media (fertilizer) during stem cell treatments.


Does Sierra Stem Cell Institute Culture or Grow (expand) Stem Cells?

No.  Our treatments are done in one day, one patient at a time.  Our processes concentrate stem cells, then immediately places them into injured areas using injection techniques.


Does SSCI provide IV stem cell injections or treat conditions such as COPD, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s Disease, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?


No.  Our practice is limited to Orthopedic and Musculoskeletal conditions.  We adhere to certain ethical guidelines regarding these types of treatments.  Our physicians only treat conditions for which they already have specialty training, experience, and/or Board Certification.  We only use treatments for which the scientific literature shows reasonable safety and effectiveness in human patients, and that use the same stem cell preparations available in our practice.  Patients are only offered treatment after a thorough MD evaluation including detailed history, physical exam, and imaging review.  After consultation, some patients may not be offered PRP or stem cell treatment based on the nature of their condition, or because other conventional treatments may be more effective. 


What makes SSCI stand out in Regenerative Medicine?

Our commitment to excellence sets us apart.  All treatments and tissue preparations are carried out in sterile operating room conditions and biological safety cabinets.  Since these tissue preparations are used for patient treatment, STERILE PROCEDURE IS CRITICAL. Laboratory equipment is routinely employed to ensure good characterization of tissue preparations.  This includes fluorescent cell viability with cell counting,  microscopy,  and use of a hematology analyzer to quantify platelet rich plasma parameters.  Finally, injections are carried out with imaging guidance using both fluoroscopy and ultrasound, to ensure the greatest accuracy possible.