Dr. Mike Skaliy was recently interviewed about Stem Cell Therapy with Business Radio X. For your convenience, we have transcribed the interview below.
September 20, 2016
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Our third and final guest here on the program, North Fulton Business Radio, from Atlanta Spine Specialists, Dr. Michael Skaliy, although we will call him Dr. Mike Skaliy for the interview. Mike, thanks for stopping by and joining us here.
Dr. Skaliy: Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Alright, you got some explaining to do, Doctor, because it is Atlanta Spine Specialists. I know you get this all the time. Everybody thinks oh my goodness you are a chiropractor, but you are not a chiropractor. You have a very interesting practice. Explain what your practice does.
Dr. Skaliy: I am definitively not a chiropractor. I am a physician. I am double boarded in anesthesiology and interventional pain management. Interventional pain management started about 25 years ago with us anesthesiologists doing some epidurals for surgeons before they did back surgery on folks in the recovery room on Tuesday afternoons. Well, much like we’ve seen from Keith and Stephanie, the world of technology has taken off over the last 25 years and what it has allowed interventional pain management to do is move into the realm of the 21st century. We now practice medicine with injections, with minimally invasive nondestructive procedures, and now with biologics, what the public knows as stem cells, and that falls into the world of regenerative medicine, which over the past three to five years has simply taken off.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: So, Mike, talk about what biologics really is because when you say stem cells that, for some people, that could be a little charge when they hear that term, but you’re really using cells within someone’s body in another part of the body, correct?
Dr. Skaliy: That’s absolutely correct. Five to ten years ago, fetal stem cells came out. There are a lot of social issues with that. What we found over the past ten years with stem cells we have them all in our own bodies. We have millions of them as we all sit here. We can actually take those out with a simple aspiration procedure or small liposuction and most of my patients would like me to more than I do on that and we can concentrate those stem cells of that patient into the millions and then inject them into the area that we want them to regenerate. These stem cells are what’s in our body to heal ourselves. It is what God gave us to heal ourselves. So these stem cells fall off our blood vessels when we have an injury and go to the injured area and they can actually change into the tissue that is injured and repair that tissue. So, all we are doing is taking them, we are putting them into the area that has injured tissue, and they make new tissue. It is the future of medicine and biologics or what is known as stem cells with the public is going to change the face of medicine in the next ten years.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: You know Mike, I even understood that. That was a pretty good explanation.
Dr. Skaliy: Exactly.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: I like that. How does the patient know if stem cell therapy is right for them and is this a first option? Is this a second or third option? Is this a last option for folks?
Dr. Skaliy: I like to think of stem cells as the sensible option if you have an option of a destructive irreversible surgery versus a regenerative injection. I think clearly the regenerative injection is the way to go. Certainly, from our standpoint, we like to see patients, everything from the weekend warrior that is having knee pain when he is playing softball all the way up to the patient that has been told they need major back surgery or major hip surgery or major knee surgery. There is about an 80% success of decreased pain and increased function with a simple injection into the area. This is really the newest and greatest thing in medicine and it is only going to expand.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: So can you help Mike skate faster when he plays hockey on the weekend. I got beat up pretty good this Saturday night. My back is just killing me! But, is it weekend warriors? You kind of touched upon it in that answer there, but I was going to ask you what are some of the types of patients you see. What are some things that, I know, someone that has maybe never thought about this and they should consider this?
Dr. Skaliy: So, typically with interventional pain management what we see are patients with degenerative conditions.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Back up. You keep saying interventional pain, meaning you just feel it every once in a while?
Dr. Skaliy: No.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: What does that mean interventional? You are using big words on me now.
Dr. Skaliy: Well, you are absolutely right and I am not sure I can spell them. So, interventional pain management differs from pain management. We don’t write pain pills for people. We actually try to get them back to normal function. So, that’s our goal.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Because pain pills are just a band-aid like we talked about with IT. It is just a band-aid to mask the pain. It is not solving the problem.
Dr. Skaliy: Exactly. It doesn’t get patients back to the lifestyle that they really want to have and that’s our goal. What we’re really looking for are patients with degenerative conditions. Now that is doctor speak for getting a little bit older. So, starting at age 40, and I know no one around the table is, we start to have some knee pain, some hip pain, some back pain. This is due to the fact that our cartilage is starting to wear and tear from 40 years of use and if you’re playing hockey that use is a little more than if you’re not playing hockey. We can take those people and we can regenerate their tissue and we can get them back to a nonpainful state. If you look at that 80% success rate of decreased pain and increased function, there’s also a subset of patients that you can see about two years out regrowing knee height, hip height, disc height. Regardless of whether you regrow the height or not, if you have deceased pain and increased function, even if we can’t appreciate it on x-ray, that’s all we’re really interested in.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: So, talk about this field because I can imagine the typical listener that might be out there right now saying wow this sounds interesting, you’ve got some great qualifications. I mean, I could read these for quite some time all the qualifications that you have, but I have never heard of this field and this sounds a little new and different and a little scary to me, maybe. So, address that concern.
Dr. Skaliy: Interventional pain management came out as an actual specialty with board certification in it about ten years ago and it was an answer to more and more injections were being done by anesthesiologists at the request of surgeons before people had surgery and what we were seeing was a lot of people were avoiding surgery. So, as this progressed and as we started to move up the technology continuum into minimally invasive type of procedures working through ports the size of your small finger, a new specialty was born. This is essentially the same as interventional cardiology, what we think of as cardiology now. People have stents in their heart, they don’t have surgery. We see the same progression in spine as we saw in heart. 30 years ago, everybody went in, they took a Black and Decker saw, they cut their chest open, and they did surgery. Now, very, very few patients have that. Most patients go to an interventional cardiologist. They do a minimally invasive, nondestructive, easily repeatable procedure that helps them and that’s what we’re doing now too. So, if the problem comes back in five, six, seven years, we can do this again for them. So, the key here is we do nondestructive, minimally invasive, easily repeatable procedures to keep people active and in the lifestyle that they want to live.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Our guest is Dr. Michael Skaliy with Atlanta Spine Specialists here on North Fulton Business Radio and you talk about the type of medicine that you practice, Mike, and you talk about pain managements. Are there other uses for what you do besides just pain management?
Dr. Skaliy: Well, certainly in the stem cell field, we’re seeing more and more things that can be done with that. Certainly, cosmetics, I think everybody has heard of the vampire facial. It was made famous by Kim Kardashian on TV.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Explain what the vampire facial is because I’m not a big Kardashian fan.
Dr. Skaliy: I can’t believe that!
Interviewer Mike Sammond: I know, I know! Don’t get me started.
Dr. Skaliy: A vampire facial, which has been done for many, many years, is where you take a patient’s platelet-rich plasma. So, we will take 30 to 60 cc of blood and we will spin that down in a special centrifuge and we’ll get what is called platelet-rich plasma, which has a lot of growth factors in it. We can then take that and we can inject it into the skin and what it does is it grows new collagen. So, as we age, our wrinkles come from the fact that we have lost collagen. Well, we can replace the collagen so the nasolabial fold, the laugh lines, the wrinkles around the eyes, we can put the collagen back in them and we can take them away. It works very, very nicely. The patients that I have done are very happy with the results of it, and, in all fairness, the studies on this go back at least 10 years and the studies are done very, very well and show clearly that, by far, this is the best facial that you can have.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Sorry to interrupt, is this the same thing as Botox?
Dr. Skaliy: No. Botox is a poison that actually causes muscle paralysis. So, what Botox does is it goes underneath the skin and for all those laugh lines and wrinkles on our foreheads it paralyzes the muscles. Now, that is going to last about three to six months and then the muscles come back and you have to have it again. What platelet-rich plasma does, it actually works on the skin to produce collagen in the skin and make your skin firmer and plumper like it was when you were 20.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Is it injected just like Botox though?
Dr. Skaliy: With a very small needle.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Okay, I am trying to figure out if this is a painless way so like okay I’m in!
Dr. Skaliy: This procedure is not remarkably painful. The needles we use are extremely small and patients really do not experience a lot of pain with this at all.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: So, Mike, now I’m convinced okay. So, I’m speaking for our listeners out there, we love your explanations. So, how do I know if I’m a good patient for you.
Dr. Skaliy: Come and see me! I’m more than happy to speak with you. If you want to come and talk about biologics or stem cells, I very simply do that at $100. I am happy to sit down with you and talk to you for 30 minutes, tell you about it, let you know if you’re a candidate, let you know if we would need to do other things to see if you are a candidate. What I really try to do, especially with procedures that are new like this, I want people to come in and explore the possibilities. I think once people explore the possibilities, especially if you’re looking at a total knee, and you can look at them and go there is an 80% chance that we can take your pain away and get you back to normal function with a simple injection and rather than a three-to-six month down time you’re going to have a three-day down time, it is really, people get it. They’re like I would like to look at this and see.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: So, maybe if I’ve gotten a diagnosis that I need surgery, I need to come see you to get a second opinion?
Dr. Skaliy: Please do from spine surgery to hip surgery to knee surgery. The surgeries that we’re doing on spine, hips, and knees have been done since 1940, 1950. The equipment is a little better now, but the theory of the surgery hasn’t changed. Biologics or stem cells are going to change the face of joint replacement. It is going to change the face of spine surgery. The vast majority of people really can’t avoid it.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: I know there are risks in anything so I have to ask the question, I am sure it’s on the mind of a lot of folks that are listening to this, and that is, what is the downside?
Dr. Skaliy: Sure. Well, there are certainly risks with any medical procedure.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Right.
Dr. Skaliy: But let’s talk about this one. I’m taking your own cells, I’m concentrating them down, and I’m injecting them back into your own body. There is no risk of rejection. There is no risk of any allergic reaction. There is no risk of any remarkable infection because these cells are actually what your body uses to treat an infection. Now, we obviously do this under sterile fields. The risk of this is very, very low. It’s certainly not zero. It’s very, very low. If you’re injecting knees, if you’re injecting hips, I’ve been doing that for 20 years. I’m just injecting now a regenerative substance rather than a steroid. So now what I get to do is I get to offer patients long-term benefit and regeneration of tissue rather than I can put a steroid in, it’s going to cut down on the inflammation, your pain may come back in three to six months. I can now look at them and go this may last you for four years, it may last you for eight years, it may last you forever, but whenever it stops working we can do it again.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: You know Mike, one of the great things about us getting to do this show is hearing about interesting technologies and new things like this, isn’t it, and meeting people. I have learned a lot. Thank you so much Dr. Skaliy. For those who would like to find out more about your practice and maybe look into using you as a doctor for some of these things you talked about, where can they get more information?
Dr. Skaliy: Thank you so much for having me. My web page is atlantaspinespecialists.com and my office number is 770-844-3242. We’d love to see them. We would love to talk to them about new procedures in medicine that can avoid the major destructive surgeries that people are having.
Interviewer Mike Sammond: Great stuff. Thank you so much for joining us.
The full interview on RadioX with Mike Sammond can be heard here.