After trying a new nonsurgical knee treatment, Kellie can keep up with her grandkids again

Kellie Lincoln goes kayaking
Within three months of MFAT treatment, Kellie’s knee had improved so much that even her co-workers noticed how much better she was moving.

Kellie Lincoln of Swisher, Iowa, loves the outdoors and looks forward to every opportunity to play with her young grandchildren. But as her left knee began to deteriorate from arthritis, she felt her active life grinding to a halt.

Hoping to avoid surgery, Kellie turned to University of Iowa Health Care sports medicine specialist Ryan Kruse, MD, to find out if he had other options to help her get moving again.

Kruse performed a microfragmented adipose tissue (MFAT) treatment, a leading-edge, nonsurgical procedure that used Kellie’s own fat cells to help heal and cushion her damaged knee.

Today, Kellie kayaks and hikes, chases around her four grandchildren, and does all the other things that make her happy.

“It’s made a big difference,” says Kellie, 60. “I don’t feel limited anymore. And I feel like my knee is still improving.”

A new option for patients who’ve tried cortisone and don’t want knee replacement

Kellie’s ailing knee kept her away from the physical activities that give her so much joy. It also slowed her down in her job as a registered nurse at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“It was hard to walk at times,” she says. “After a 12-hour shift, I’d get a lot of stiffness, and I also had pain from time to time.”

Cortisone injections provided little to no relief. And she didn’t want a knee replacement, mainly because of the weeks of work she’d miss while recuperating.

Kruse listened to Kellie’s goals so that he could recommend a treatment that would work for her lifestyle. He believed MFAT would be the best option.

“He made me feel at ease, and he was very informative about it,” Kellie says. “He told me about other procedures, too, but we just figured this would be the best one for me. He had a good energy.”

Nonsurgical knee repair that uses the patient’s own fat cells

Kruse specializes in regenerative medicine, an increasingly popular category of orthopedic care that can help damaged tissue heal and can provide long-term pain relief without surgery. Most types of regenerative medicine use the patient’s own cells to do the work.

“I’ve always been someone who will try something new,” Kellie says. “Why not try this instead of something like a knee replacement, where’s it’s more invasive and there’s a risk for blood clots and all that stuff? I really didn’t have any doubts.”

In January 2021, Kruse took fat cells from the sides of Kellie’s abdomen and then used a processing technique to resize and reshape the fat cells so that they could fit through a needle. He then injected her processed fat cells into her knee.

The whole procedure took about two hours during a normal office visit. Kellie was awake the whole time.

“I didn’t feel anything,” she says.

Kruse told Kellie that if she did her part—including physical therapy and a series of follow-up appointments—the benefits of the MFAT treatment could last for years.

I’ve always been someone who will try something new. Why not try this instead of something like a knee replacement, where’s it’s more invasive and there’s a risk for blood clots and all that stuff? I really didn’t have any doubts.

— Kellie Lincoln

Back to an active life within three months of knee treatment

Kellie’s knee progressed nicely. Within three months, the mobility of her knee had improved significantly. Even her co-workers noticed the difference her MFAT treatment made.

“I have people at work who have asked for Dr. Kruse’s name,” she says. “I definitely would recommend it.”

Best of all, she’s keeping pace with her grandchildren again.

“One of the main reasons I had the injection was to keep up with my very active grandkids,” Kellie says. “We go a lot of places, and I have to keep up. The injection has helped me enjoy watching them grow.”

Swisher, Iowa