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Dr. Sydney Coleman presents treatment of radiation injury

Posted August 04, 2010 in Breast LipoStructure, Facial Reconstruction, Fat Grafting Research, Home

Sydney Coleman of New York City Presents Studies which Validate the use of Fat Grafting to Reverse Radiation Damage

At the annual meeting of the European Association of Plastic Surgeons this year, Sydney Coleman presented cutting edge studies which verified in animal models the healing effect of structural fat grafts on skin that had been exposed to therapeutic radiation.  For over a decade, Dr. Coleman has been treating patients with damaged tissue due to radiation injury.  Not only has he witnessed the survival of the fat grafts, but also he has noted a significant improvement in the quality of skin in almost every patient.

The research was performed in the laboratories at NYU Medical Center.  Dr. Coleman reports, “Our research verifies my observations over the last ten or more years that fat does not just survive when placed into irradiated tissues, but it reverses the radiation damage in almost every case.”

In the NYU study, mice were exposed to enough radiation to cause hair loss (alopecia) and skin damage over a four-week period.  At four weeks, fat grafts that Dr. Coleman personally processed using the “Coleman technique” were transplanted under the radiation damaged skin.  Other mice were treated similarly using normal saline (saltwater).   In the mice treated with fat grafts, first the blood supply increased and then the hair grew back, the scarring reversed and the skin softened.  In the mice treated with normal saline, the hair loss and scarring progressed and the mice never healed.”

Dr. Coleman further comments, “these findings verify that this type of fat grafting alleviates radiation damage to skin and underlying tissues by improving the blood supply and softening scarring.”  This process is probably due at least in part to stem cells and hormones present in structural fat grafts. “The best way to think of these primitive cells present in fat grafts is as ‘repair cells’ that actively maintain your body by repairing damage as it occurs daily.”  (If you scratch your skin, or break a bone, et cetera).  “When placed into an area of subacute damage such as a radiation injury, the ‘repair cells’ and hormones heal the tissues.  This is truly an example of using a person’s own body to heal themselves…regenerative medicine.”

Surgeons are hesitant to operate on body areas which have been treated with radiation because they heal poorly or not at all after a surgical procedure.  Recent evidence points to the healing of radiation injury and even improvement in the appearance of aging skin by fat grafting to an area.  The healing most likely takes place by bringing in stem cells (or repair cells) which build new blood vessels and capillaries inthe irradiated skin, muscle and bone.

Dr. Coleman and several plastic surgeons in Europe, have been using his fat grafting technique to cure radiation damage in many breast cancer patients.  An extraordinary reconstruction of a jaw deformity from therapeutic radiation was mentioned in this blog last year.  Click here to read the posting.  Dr. Coleman and other plastic surgeons in Europe have had success in reversing alopecia (hair loss) and other scalp damage from therapeutic radiation.

Dr. Coleman published his experiences with the treatment of therapeutic radiation damage first in 2006 in the Journal of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

© Coleman 2010

Written by the office staff at TriBeCa Plastic Surgery

More examples of reconstruction using Dr. Coleman’s specific technique can be found at

Further reading: