The problem with multiple hair transplant surgeries, or a single, massive surgical transplant of the patient’s own harvested follicles known as a “megasession”, is that the number of available donor grafts eventually does run out.
Bring in the clones… cloned hair follicle cells, that is.
British scientists recently announced that they have successfully “cloned” hair follicles which were then injected into the donor’s scalp and actually grew hair. It sounds pretty sci-fi to be sure, but cloning technology, though still in its infancy, is being used in the development of new and exciting applications – including a permanent cure for thinning hair.
Researchers say follicular cell implantation, or cell therapy, could be available for general use in hair transplant surgery procedures within five years. It will be just one more high-tech solution to the problem of male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
Your traditional follicular unit graft (FUG) procedure requires hundreds if not thousands of hair follicles which have been harvested from the patient’s own scalp. While very successful and to date the only permanent solution to hair loss, there is only a finite number of donor grafts.
Cell therapy, according to its developers, solves this problem through the ability to literally multiply donor hair follicle cells (dermal papilla cells) outside the body in a specially patented culture. Dermal papilla cells are the scalp’s foundation cells promoting hair growth.
The millions of replicated cells are then injected into the donor’s balding areas. Research has shown a two-thirds increase in hair count six months after the procedure. The research also has shown that cell therapy rejuvenates non-productive hair follicles. These follicles are otherwise “dead” in the sense that they are no longer able to regrow hair.
In clinical trials follicular cell implantation has been shown to work. Whether it becomes an established cure for thinning hair has yet to be seen. There are many reasons why men – and women – lose their hair. Among them are a family history of baldness, emotional stress, vitamin and mineral deficiency, auto-immune disorders, pregnancy, and age.
The idea of being able to take a few donor hair follicle cells and then multiply them in a test tube truly is the stuff of science fiction. But hair restoration technology is advancing steadily and rapidly. The day may soon come when hair loss is a thing of the past. Until that day, however, consider traditional hair transplant surgery as a safe, predictable and effective treatment for thinning and balding hair.
Dr. Kyle S. Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist with offices located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Contact The Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery at (757) 389-5850 for a personal consultation.