What to Expect during Stem Cell Procedure


ThriveMD therapy for joints, soft tissue pain and back pain is a minimally invasive stem cell procedure.

The procedure begins with collecting your body’s own adult stem cells and growth factors from multiple sources. We harvest adipose (fat)-derived stem cells most often from your lower abdomen allowing us to obtain a significant quantity of cells. We also harvest bone marrow derived cells from the iliac crest which contains a variety of important cells to compliment the adipose-derived cells.

The third area of harvest is done through a peripheral vein where the blood is used to make Platelet-Rich Plasma. These three components are injected directly into the affected area (joints such as knees, shoulders, hips, soft tissue, low or mid back) under live x-ray (fluoroscopic) or ultrasound guidance.

ThriveMD procedures use adult autologous (from one’s own body) stem cells only. This is a safe and effective way of allowing your body to potentially heal in a natural way.

The earlier you time your stem cell procedure, the higher the chances for successful outcomes. Yet, we have been seeing excellent results form patients who waited until they were ready for a joint replacement or back surgery.

During the Stem Cell Procedure

Harvesting Stem Cells & Preparing for Injection

From Fat Tissue

We collect the stem cells through a minimally invasive liposuction procedure performed at our Colorado office (Vail or Denver). This procedure takes about an hour. We utilize light oral sedation to help relax the patient for the procedure. No general anesthetic is required.

We extract abdominal fat using Nutational Infrasonic Liposuction equipment (trademarked Tickle Lipo in the US). The Tickle Lipo cannula allows for gentle emulsification of the fat which helps separate the stem cells from the fat particle, thus improving stem cell yields. There is little discomfort associated with the procedure. Most patients report feeling only a mild tickling or pressure sensation.

The adipose-derived tissue is collected into sterile collection canisters. We then utilize an advanced centrifuge process to mechanically separate the cells into a small injectable volume.

Platelet Rich Plasma

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is collected from the patient’s peripheral vein (usually in the arm). 60-120cc of blood is extracted and processed using a centrifuge to separate out the platelet rich fraction of the plasma which is dense in platelet derived growth factors. This results in a small injectable volume.

Preparing Stem Cells for Back Pain – Further Centrifuging

The main difference in preparation for lumbar discs and facets involves the further centrifugation of the stem cells in order to achieve the necessary increased concentration. Spinal discs and facets are only capable of receiving approximately 1cc of stem cells per targeted area.


From Bone Marrow

The area is easily anesthetized using local anesthetic.
Bone marrow aspirate is collected from the posterior iliac crest. The area is easily anesthetized using local anesthetic and a needle is placed painlessly into the center of the crest. We usually harvest the bone marrow and centrifuge the aspirate into a small injectable volume of bone marrow concentrate.

Administering the Stem Cell Injection

Using live x-ray (fluoroscopic) or ultrasound guidance, the cells and growth factors are injected into the affected site (joints such as knees, shoulders, hips, soft tissue, low or mid back) under sterile conditions with the use of local anesthetic. Dr. Brandt‘s extensive experience with back injections, as well injections for knees and other joints and soft tissue, ensures the cells are reaching their targeted area so patients have the best chance for improvement.

The stem cell injection of the spine requires advanced image guided injection skills in order to deliver the stem cell injection specifically, effectively, and most importantly safely to the target.

Returning to Daily Activities

The entire stem cell procedure is complete within 3-4 hours. Stem cell patients comfortably walk out on their own. You can typically return to work and daily activities within a couple of days.

thriveMD clinic front desk

Contact our Vail or Denver office to find out if you could be a candidate for stem cell therapy.

Radiofrequency Lesioning as an Adjunct to Treating Knee Pain or Facet Joint Pain

Once the sensory nerves have been taken out of commission there is often dramatic improvements in pain, and blood flow. Surrounding muscles begin to show improved function and loss of atrophy.

The RF procedure can be utilized in conjunction with a stem cell injection to help diminish pain, improve blood flow and expedite healing.

The spinal facet joints and the knee, similar to many areas in the body, contain sensory nerves that are very active in certain pain conditions. These sensory nerves can be temporarily destroyed using a very precise thermal lesion delivered by a radiofrequency (RF) current though a special insulated needle.

RF currently is the safest form of delivering a heat lesion due to the fact that the lesion will remain the same size irregardless of the heating duration. Using real time X-ray guidance to define the location, a segment of the targeted nerve is cauterized with careful attention to avoid any nearby motor nerves or vascular structures. Once the sensory nerves have been taken out of commission there is often dramatic improvements in pain, and blood flow. In addition surrounding muscles begin to show improved function and loss of atrophy as the inhibitory pain sensations subside.

This procedure can be utilized in conjunction with a stem cell injection to help diminish pain, improve blood flow and expedite healing. The radiofrequency procedure can even be employed as a standalone pain relief procedure for patients who have ongoing pain and do not want to undergo a major invasive surgery, such as a knee replacement. The procedure can also be an excellent means of providing postoperative relief in patients with ongoing pain despite having already undergone surgical repair.

After the Stem Cell Procedure

Patients walk out of our office with minimal discomfort and require no braces or crutches.

Patients may return to work the day after the procedure.

Post-procedure, patients walk out of our office with minimal discomfort and require no braces or crutches. Patients may begin to experience pain relief in as little as two to twelve weeks.  Over a period of six to twelve months, most patients continue to have ongoing improvement, noting a decrease in inflammation, improvement in pain and an increase in mobility and function.

After the procedure, patients may experience mild tenderness where the liposuction was performed. This usually lasts between 3-5 days. Patients might also have some fluid drainage at the liposuction site during the first 12 hours.

During the week following treatment, we encourage patients to perform light activities. Patients may return to work the day after the procedure. Impact or strenuous exercise should be avoided for 10 days to one month depending on the areas being treated.  After that, patients can return to normal activities. Also, a vast majority of our patients avoid invasive surgery such as knee replacement, spinal fusion, and others. most of our patients

One Month Follow Up Appointment

Four to six weeks after the Stem Cell procedure, patients will return to one of our medical facilities in Colorado for a PRP injection and/or bone marrow concentrate injection into the damaged areas previously treated. PRP has been shown to enhance the regenerative effects and healing process.

PRP has been shown to enhance the regenerative effects and healing process.

What Stem Cell Patients Say

Joint & Soft Tissue Patients

stem cell procedure patients

Patient reviews and testimonials are valued highly. Here is what one of the stem cell therapy patients in Colorado had to say about her shoulder case and the procedure:

ThriveMD healed my torn Rotator Cuff preventing me from shoulder surgery. I was golfing 6 weeks after treatment. Dr. Brandt is the best.”*Debbie from Denver, Colorado, Facebook

You can see details of this testimonial, along with many others, on our page dedicated to stem cell reviews for joint pain treatments.

Back Pain Patients

What one of the back pain patients had to say about their degenerative disc case and the procedure:

“My degenerative disk pain is 90% improved. I have suffered for 20 years with back pain and finally am able to experience pain free activities.”*Anonymous patient, Vitals.com

You can see details of this testimonial, along with many others, on our page dedicated to stem cell reviews for back pain.

*Individual patient results may vary. Contact us today to find out if stem cell therapy may be able to help you.

Next Step

If you believe you or someone you care about could be a candidate for stem cell therapy, please contact us today.