Dr. Damon Noto On Stem Cell Surgery: “You’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg here. This is really going to explode.June 1, 2011 – 5:30 am by Steven Cuce
Dr. Damon Noto is one of five doctors in the United State that performs the surgery that Yankees right-hander Bartolo Colon underwent last offseason to repair damaged ligaments and a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Bartolo Colon is the first professional athlete in the public eye to undergo stem cell surgery where fat was taken from his body and spun down into stem cells and then re-injected back into the injured area of his shoulder to help induce recovery and strengthen his arm once again. The results so far have been astonishing for Colon. (Editor’s note: Fat taken from Bartolo Colon’s body…Insert thousands of jokes.)
The 38-year old right-hander hasn’t pitched a full season in the big leagues since 2005, a year in which he won the AL CY Young Award, and he hit 95 mph on the radar gun with his final pitch of Monday’s Memorial Day, 5-0, complete game shutout victory over the Oakland Athletics. The last time Colon threw a shutout was on July 5th of 2006 before injuring himself three starts later, having his season end on the DL. As of right now Colon is making a fool out of Father Time. Brian Cashman’s $900,000 investment seems like a criminal act more-and-more each day. We’ll see how the rest of Colon’s season turns out, but his ground breaking stem cell surgery has many in baseball wondering if it is illegal in regards to human growth hormone possibly being used and has others asking where do I sign up to rejuvenate my career? The following interview with Dr. Damon Noto is fascinating as he breaks down the X’s and O’s of Bartolo Colon’s surgery.
Dr. Damon Noto joined WFAN in New York with Joe & Evan to discuss how many people get stem cell surgery on their elbows and shoulders to help repair ligaments and torn rotator cuffs, the purpose behind stem cell surgery, how stem cell surgery works, human growth hormone being used in stem cell surgery, more professional athletes getting stem cells surgery after the way Bartolo Colon has pitched, the amount of time it takes to recover from stem cell surgery and other professional athletes getting stem cell surgery.
How many people usually have this kind of surgery?
“It’s only probably been in the last two years that we’ve really been doing it, so we’ve maybe done 500 people in the past two years.”
What do most people usually get this surgery for?
“It’s usually some type of orthopedic injury, so a person may throw out their shoulder or knee or even people are looking for a hip replacement. We’re focusing on people right now with largely orthopedic problems or they’ve tried other things such as surgery or arthroscopic surgery and it hasn’t worked for them.”
Explain how this surgery works? What exactly do you do to make these kind of repairs?
“Let’s talk about his [Bartolo Colon's] surgery in particular. He had something interesting where they took the fat from his body, actually extracted a small amount of fat. They took that fat…They spun it down to get what we call ‘stem cells’ and then they took those stem cells and they re-injected them back into his shoulder. They also took a little bit of his bone marrow, so they did a small procedure where they took a little bit of his blood and the bone marrow out from the bone and they spun it down and got stem cells and they injected that along with it into the shoulder, so basically they’re taking one part of the body, cells from one part of the body and putting it back into another. Those stem cells are what actually causes repair and regenerates the actual tissue in that area and they strengthen that area.”
Is there any use of human growth hormone in this surgery? That’s obviously the thing that Major League Baseball cares about in all of this?
“Some of the procedures we are using growth hormone or even some people are using testosterone. For his [Bartolo Colon's] in particular from what I heard they did not use any enhancing agent. These procedures are very powerful on their own. They don’t actually need growth hormone or testosterone, but this is a very new science. We’re calling this ‘regenerative medicine.’ It’s a very new field. What we’re seeing now is that different doctors are experimenting with different techniques. One of them actually is using growth hormones to make it even more effective, but the research is still out on whether or not that is needed. In his case they didn’t use any from what I hear from Dr.Prieto, who I was in good fortune to train with for awhile and he performed the surgery. He did not use any banned substances such as growth hormone or testosterone. You can see the results he got with this procedure.”
If this surgery is so successful with Bartolo Colon I would have to think more-and-more players are going to want to get this surgery done?
“Absolutely. You’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg here. This is really going to explode. In the next five years the field of regenerative medicine, using your own body cells to heal itself is going to explode. I mean athletes are really going to be demanding these types of things. Instead of major surgeries they’re going to want to use their own bodies ability to heal.”
How long is the recovery to get back on the mound and throw the baseball after this surgery?
“Right now the jury is out on that, but I would say 6-8 weeks. I gotta tell you the results are surprising to me. This is a new field, but the results we are seeing are absolutely phenomenal. They’re just mind blowing how powerful they are. I hear reports that Bartolo is saying his shoulder feels like it’s 19 years old again.”
Have you heard of any other major league player outside of Bartolo Colon that had this surgery?
“For stem cells? I believe he is the first major league player that has had it to my knowledge.”