Will PRP/Stem Cell Injections Help My Atrophic Rhinitis?

Q: Dr. Eppley, Do you use stem cell therapy to fix atrophic rhinitis…to regenerate nasal bone, tissue and mucosa, particularly, nasal mucosa? I have a bad dry nose which is primarily atrophic rhinitis three years after the partial removal of nasal turbinate. All the medication from doctors does not help much. So I can’t wait to find out how stem cell therapy and tissue engineering are going on for help with atrophic rhinitis.  I read on other webpages that one plastic surgeon says you are the only doctor in the states doing this. Is that true? Thank you very much for your time. I’d really appreciate if when you kindly answer my question.

A: The treatment of atrophic rhinitis is a difficult problem for which there are no known therapies that are universally effective. The use of injectable autologous therapies offer promise for a lot of difficult clinical conditions in which some regeneration of function or regeneration of actual tissues would be therapeutic. Current autologous injection therapies include PRP (platelet-rich plasma) fat and stem cells. PRP is an extract of one’s own blood that contains platelet concentrates which have numerous potent growth factors in them. Fat concentrates are centrifuged or filtered aliquots of fat and stem cells. Stem cells can be isolated from fat but must be done concurrently as a direct isolate from the patient’s fat and immediately re-injected. The FDA currently bans the growth of stem cells from the patient as an isolated step in cell culture as a delayed reimplantation procedure.

The best approach currently for treating non-healing wounds and dysfunctional tissue elements, in my opinion, is the combination of PRP with a fat/stem cell concentrate. The entire nasal lining, septum and middle turbinates could be injected with up to 5ccs of this combined autologous therapy with the goal of reducing the degree of atrophic rhinitis. Understand that this is not exclusively stem cells but is a mixture of autologous elements that does partially include some stem cells. Whether this would be effective for atrophic rhinitis is not known as the primary problem is that the main producer of the moisturization of air (inferior turbinate) is missing. But whether the middle turbinate and other areas of nasal lining can compensate for it but being stimulated is the theoretical basis of the injections. Because it is an autologous therapy, there is no harm…it is just a question of how much benefit, if any, can be achieved.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana