Grow your own breast implants ? Replace a broken bone or a clouded cornea ?Having your very own custom-grown tissues available "off the shelf" in case of damage or disease will happen to some degree in our liftetimes.
Researchers have already shown how cosmetic surgery might be improved with natural implants that keep their original size and shape better than synthetics.
Natural tissues, instead of synthetic implants, would also allow easier breast reconstruction after breast cancer, or soft tissue replacement following cancer or trauma surgeries.
Cells needed for the implant can be obtained by a simple needle stick, compard to the dramatic transfers of tissues from other parts of the body, which are currently the norm. The other option is tissue from cadavers, such as the recent and much-publicized face and hand transplants.
These procedures, however, require that patients take a lifetime of powerful drugs to suppress the immune system.
Interestingly, the best source of stem cells is plain old fat. As in the stuff I remove during liposuction. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to throw it all away !