A brave new world: Stem cell therapy in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Fat removal and a non-surgical facelift at the same time might sound like a two-for-one offer too good to be true. But that is a pretty common combination at the Innovi Stem Cell Therapy Clinic, where doctors extract stem cells from the bodys fat to do any number of cosmetic cleanups, from scar removal to diminishing fine lines and wrinkles.

The clinic opened five months ago in the Beirut neighborhood of Sodeco, bringing Lebanon its first specialized center in stem cell research.

Around the world at any given medical conference, from fields as diverse as orthopedics to dentistry, stem cells have become one of the main events, as researchers believe these undifferentiated cells hold the cure to some of the gravest human diseases: cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, to name a few.

In a country like Lebanon, stem cell specialists figured the best way to support their research was to offer one of the most in-demand medical procedures: cosmetic surgery.

Walking through the halls of the elegant, albeit quaint, clinic, one will see top-of-the-line fat freezing technology, equipment for laser hair removal and facilities where doctors carry out medical face peels and stretch mark treatment.

They also offer Ozone therapy, which uses pure oxygen that can supposedly alleviate a range of maladies from skin disorders and premature aging to chronic pain.

But we are not a beauty clinic, said one of the doctors, who asked not to be identified due to Lebanons strict medical advertising laws.

These cosmetic procedures complement their work in stem cells, a far less understood and rapidly evolving area of medicine. Innovi, for example, has built the Middle Easts only stem cell bank, where up to 19,000 vials can be frozen and preserved with liquid nitrogen. The closet housing the bank, which looks like an enormous washing machine, now holds the stem cells of a modest 10 clients.

The clinic has become a hub for various stem cells research. Doctors have visited from Europe and a Syrian doctor is now working with a couple to try and grow sperm from the stem cells of a man with aspermia.

But cosmetic treatments and stem cells go well together as doctors have been using fat-derived cells, also called adipose stem cells, as a Botox-like filler for almost a decade.

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A brave new world: Stem cell therapy in Lebanon

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