Hair loss is a huge problem for both men and women. About 60% of hair loss sufferers claim that they would rather have more hair than money, friends or sex. While there are certain drugs like minoxidil which may help, they don’t work for everyone.
The medical community has known for awhile that stem cells have the ability to regenerate hair follicles that have gone dormant. The problem, until now, is that there hasn’t been a way to isolate and expand these cells in an office setting. Dr. Ashley Gordon of Austin, TX discusses an exciting new stem cells in hair restoration procedure that can be performed in the office, under local anesthesia, with truly astounding results.
The Beauty of Stem Cells
Stem cells have long been touted as potential miracle machines, but progress on their utilization has been slow. With the increases in research over the past decade, preliminary therapies are beginning to offer real results, specifically with hair follicles. “For many years, we’ve known that stem cells have the ability to regenerate follicles that have gone dormant,” explains Dr. Gordon.
The problem has always been that there did not used to be a way to isolate usable stem cells and expand them in an office setting. The surgeon would have to extract the tissue, and then send the tissue offsite to be processed and grow/expand those stem cells. Needless to say, the FDA wasn’t thrilled with this arrangement. However, within the last year, several machines have come on the market that can extract the stem cells in the office. This has been a total game changer.
Stem Cells in Hair Restoration Procedure
Dr. Gordon and her practice partner Dr. Dustin Reid are the first plastic surgeons in Austin, and possibly all of central Texas, to have one of these machines. With it, they are able to extract about 100cc of fat from the patient. This fat is then sent through different processes:
- spinning it down in a centrifuge
- enzymatic digestion
The end result is that they are able to isolate about 5 million stem cells with 100% viability. This pure concentration of stem cells is then combined with PRP, or platelet rich plasma, which has a number of growth factors associated with it, and injected back into the tissue of the scalp. This combination is extremely effective. “The stem cells are actually like planting the seeds and the PRP is like fertilizing the garden,” explains Dr. Gordon.
The process takes about 2 hours and is performed under local anesthesia. It can, however, be performed under oral sedation if the patient is feeling at all anxious.
Further Benefits of Stem Cells in Hair Restoration
This stem cell and PRP cocktail really helps with hair growth by reactivating hair follicles that have gone dormant. Stem cells can also help with fine lines, wrinkles and pigment discoloration on the face. In addition, the stem cells in hair restoration help to protect the hair follicles from circulating androgens.
We know that in male pattern baldness it’s the DHT, or dihydrotesterone, that’s the main culprit in hair loss. “The stem cells seem to really protect follicles from that,” says Dr. Gordon. Not only do they treat the immediate issue, but they help to protect your hair from future loss. This is revolutionary. No other hair restoration treatment options are capable of this.
The Treatment is Particularly Exciting for Women
While stem cells in hair restoration is truly exciting for both men and women, it may be even more revolutionary for women. Men already have quite a few hair restoration options on the market, including:
- propecia, an oral medication for men only
- hair follicle grafting
However, propecia and hair follicle grafting are not options for women. Hair loss in women is a little more challenging because women have more diffuse hair loss. Unlike male pattern baldness or site-specific baldness, where a man loses hair in the front (a receding hair line) or in a circle at the top of the head, women just lose hair all over. It is hard to do a grafting procedure because they simply have thinner hair everywhere.
Hair Loss is Devastating for Sufferers
Since almost 50% of hair loss sufferers said that they would trade their life savings for a full head of hair, going bald is traumatizing for both men and women. It adversely affects a sufferers self-esteem, sexual performance and confidence at work. And though it is more socially acceptable for men to go bald, these statistics cross gender lines.
This new hair restoration procedure that can actually regenerate hair in both men and women is beyond exhilarating. As Dr. Gordon explains, “it’s a really exciting time in regenerative medicine because we’re really moving away from repairing the tissue to actually creating new, healthy, young tissue.”