Stem cell therapy–how profitable?
You feel like you have entered an attractive boutique hotel in miniature; everything is neat, clean, almost spotless and sparkling.
This is the Asian Aesthetic Center in Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City (contact number: 7099565) across the Ateneo de Manila. The equipment is state-of-the-art, and there are two main wings: The Dermatology Wing and the Surgical Wing.
In the Dermatology Wing we have a Laser Room, Slimming Room, a Wellness Room and a Facial Treatment Room. The Surgical Room was what interested me most—but only as a writer and not personally, because my cells are not dysfunctional (to my knowledge!).
Unfortunately, colleague Neilsen and I could not enter the Surgical Wing because a procedure was under way. In this wing, we were told, is a stem cell laboratory unit with the stem cell extractor and activator machines, and a recovery room, along with other amenities.
The clinic is cozy and family-run, you might say. It is headed by Dr. Amy B. Tinaza, a cosmetic surgeon and a stem cell specialist, and her partner (professional as well as personal) Dr. Jomar S. Tinaza, chief facial plastic surgeon and her husband. And the center’s PR is a sister in law, Charlotte Tinaza.
The Tinaza couple head the Stem Cell Therapy Team, and there are also Medical, Surgical, Specialist and After-Care Teams.
So why did she (Dr. Amy) choose to be a stem cell specialist? “Although stem cell therapy is at an early stage, I believe it is the future of medicine,” she replies.
The center’s stem cell therapy is the Autologous Fat Stem Cell, in which the stem cell is from the fat cells of the same patient, and transferred back to the patient once the stem cell is activated.
“It poses an extremely low risk to the patient because the fat is extracted from the patient and isolated/activated, and then transfused back to the patient,” Tinaza says. “And it is a single 5-hour procedure in a sterilized surgical operating room.”
The clinic (www.asianaestheticenter.com) is promoted through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and special events like the Philippine Movie Press Club Star Awards, where Ruffa Gutierrez and Aga Muhlach were chosen Stars of the Night, and last December’s Metro Manila Film Festival, which reunited Nora Aunor with her estranged former lover, Joseph Estrada, also Stars of the Night.
“We have tie-ups with hotels in Boracay,” says Charlotte. “Our business is good for medical tourism.”
The age bracket of patients ranges from teenagers to those in their 80s, including students from “prominent” schools, businessmen, wives of politicians and celebrities. A recent patient was a 77-year-old woman with diabetes and chronic hypertension.
How much did they invest in the clinic? Tinaza prudently does not cite any figures but it was “expensive enough to cater to the A-B crowd.”
Are stem cell surgeons well-off? “Stem cell specialists are first and foremost ‘a doctor’,” notes the physician. “You don’t need to be well-off to do stem-cell therapy. To be competent, what you really need is proper training.”
Tinaza concludes: “I am helping people in need, and give proper service to our patients. Profit is secondary. Return of investment (underscoring hers) will follow.”
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