The stromal vascular fraction (SVF) of adipose tissue consists of cellular subpopulations with distinct regenerative potential.

To investigate the regenerative capacities of autologous SVF cells in the treatment of chronic leg ulcers of venous (VLU) and arterial-venous (AVLU) origin.

Multimorbid ulcer patients received a singular topical treatment with 9–15 × 106 SVF cells, separated from abdominal lipoaspirates by digestion with collagenase and neutral protease and applied immediately after isolation. The primary endpoints were the change in wound size 12 weeks after treatment and evaluation of adverse events. Secondary endpoints included the time to complete wound epithelialization and change in pain levels. Postoperative wound treatment modalities and treatment of comorbidities were not intensified compared with pre-operative management. Follow-up period was at least 6 months.

Sixteen elderly ulcer patients (seven with VLU, nine with AVLU) were treated as described. All VLU patients (median ulcer size: 48.25 cm2) and four of nine AVLU patients showed complete epithelialization of the ulcers within 71–174 days. In three patients with large ulcerations on both legs, ulcerations on the non-treated, contralateral leg also epithelialized. Patients reported a considerable rapid decrease in pain intensity by 2.5 points on average on a visual scale from 1 to 5 within the first 2 weeks after treatment. The patients were followed up for 9–44 months (median: 30 months). No severe side-effects were observed.

The use of SVF cells presents an effective, minimally invasive option for the treatment of VLU and AVLU even in multimorbid patients. In patients with larger predominantly ischaemic AVLU and comorbidities, one-time application of the used amounts of SVF cells was not sufficient in the majority of cases.

©2017 European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.