Objective: Urogenital atrophy is a degenerative process that may occur during menopause causing debilitating disorders and painful symptomatology. Estrogen therapy slows the onset of atrophy, but it requires ongoing therapy to maintain its effectiveness. To mitigate the degenerative evolutions associated with menopause, patients may benefit from new therapeutic approaches, such as the use of mesenchymal stem cells. Among the many sources, the adipose tissue is considered one of the smartest, due to its abundance and easy access. This study investigated the feasibility and potential benefits of using an autologous adipose tissue to treat the symptoms of urogenital atrophy.
Patients and methods: In 2014, the first three women affected by post-menopausal urogenital atrophy were treated with injections of autologous and micro-fragmented adipose tissue (Lipogems®). Clinical outcomes were determined at 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months by evaluating vaginal dryness, burning, itching, stranguria, sensitivity, and dyspareunia. Pre- and 36 months post-op biopsies and vaginal discharge were also collected.
Results: The three women reported a significant improvement of the symptoms at 6 months with complete resolution at 9 months. This benefit, subjectively reported and confirmed by clinical evaluation, remained constant without recurrence at least until 36 months. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed a total recovery of vaginal vitality with production of glycogen, vasculature hyperplasia and regeneration of the epithelium and subcutaneous tissue at 36 months. The analysis of vaginal discharge showed a restoration of an acid pH with the colonization of lactobacilli. No postoperative complications nor adverse events were recorded.
Conclusions: The results of these first three cases pointed to autologous and micro-fragmented adipose tissue as a safe, feasible and effective therapeutic approach for the treatment of post-menopausal urogenital atrophy.