FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida - Almost six million Americans suffer from chronic wounds that won't heal.
Now a new, easy to use treatment some are calling a "magic powder" is helping patients heal much faster.
Plastic surgeon Tracey Stokes is used to being in the operating room, but not as a patient.
"I underwent bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction."
Dr. Stokes made the decision after she and her mother tested positive for the gene that causes breast cancer. Unfortunately, she developed a wound on her left breast that would not heal.
"I think in today's day and age wound care and wound care problems have almost become an epidemic," said Dr. Laura Sudarsky, a surgeon and wound care specialist with Esse Plastic Surgery.
STANDARD TREATMENT: When treating chronic wounds, doctors or nurses often remove dead or inflamed tissue. This is known as debridement. The tissue is removed using instruments such as tweezers, a sharp spoon-like instrument called a curette, or a scalpel. An enzyme-based gel is sometimes applied too, to help clean the wound. The wound can also be cleaned using a high-pressure water jet. Another form of debridement involves the use of a certain species of maggots (fly larvae) that are specially bred for medical purposes. The maggots are placed on the wound, either as they are or in a pouch. They remove dead tissue and fluid from the wound. Because debridement is often painful, a local anesthetic is used to numb the wound beforehand, for instance using an ointment.
Dr. Sudarsky was using a new product on her patients.
"You put the powder on a wound and it will introduce stem cells into the wound and allow the wound to heal," explained Dr. Sudarsky.
The powder is applied in the doctor's office and the dressing is changed every two to three days.
"It's very interesting because you watch the cells enter into the field and start healing."
XCELLISTEM: XCelliStem Wound Powder is distinguished from other tissue products in several ways. It is derived from two tissue sources instead of one, which allows for a more diverse mix of components. Other products are about 90 percent collagen, while this new biomaterial is 45 percent collagen, 25 percent elastin, 14 percent fibronectin, and 7 percent laminin. This is important because it provides a much more diverse mix of potential binding sites and signaling components. Multiple collagen types have been identified in the material including collagen types I, III, IV, and V. Hyaluronic acid, glycosaminoglycans, lipids, and growth factors also have been identified in the material. The growth factors investigated to date demonstrate the presence of fibroblast growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, and epidermal growth factor.
XCelliStem saved one diabetic patient's foot from amputation.
"We've been able to use it under a skin graft or instead of a skin graft to promote wound healing," said Dr. Sudarsky.
Dr. Stokes couldn't believe how quickly it worked for her.
"Within a matter of two to four weeks everything was completely healed."
Saving her from having more surgery, so she could go back to doing what she really loves.
"I'm back in the operating room working, playing with my kids."
If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at email@example.com.