Lichen Sclerosis is a skin condition that occurs in women, men and even children but most frequently seen in post-menopausal women. The skin around the genitals and anus can turn shiny and smooth and spots grow into patches. Skin over the spots turns thin and crinkled and can tear easily and become scarred. Itching, changes in skin color, pain, bleeding and blisters can also occur. Causes of LS may be auto-immune or hormonal but overall the exact cause is poorly understood. Other areas of the body can be affected but those usually resolve without treatment. LS is not contagious. Diagnosis can be confirmed on skin biopsy.
Without treatment, patches on the genitals can lead to scarring and pain or become cancerous. LS can cause scars that narrow the vagina interfering with sexual intercourse. Treatment has traditionally involved surgical excision (not always possible especially in women) and powerful topical steroids which can help mitigate itching and scarring. Optimization of estrogen levels is also helpful. More advanced treatment includes retinoids (vitamin A like compounds), UV light therapy, or Tacrolimus (immune suppressant).
Progenitor stem cells have been used for a variety of medical treatments to repair and regenerate acute and chronically damaged tissues. A recent technological breakthrough enables us to now use Adipose (fat) derived stem cells (ASC’s). Stem cells from a person’s own fat are easily available in quantities up to ten times those seen in bone marrow stem cells even after days of culturing and processing. Liposuction fat has an attractive and abundant stem cell source. These cells have the potential to repair and regenerate human tissue such as cartilage, bone, fat, muscle, nerves and blood vessels. They also work on the immune system and have anti-inflammatory effects.
At the California Stem Cell Treatment Center (www.stemcellrevolution.com) cell therapy can be used for Lichen Sclerosis. Dr. Lander can perform a mini liposuction to obtain stromal vascular fraction (SVF) which is rich in adult stem cells and growth factors. SVF has immuno-modulatory and anti-inflammatory effects and therefore may be effective in healing the abnormal patches of skin associated with LS. The investigational protocol also addresses the systemic component of LS by administration of intra-venous SVF in addition to local injections. Additional growth factors in the form AQ Skin Solutions (pure growth factors FDA approved as a cosmetic for topical application) can work with the cell therapy and may be helpful in healing the LS skin lesions. AQ products are available at the “store” section of this website.