Since the invention of hair transplant surgery in 1952, the methods for hair growth available today have undergone a significant change.
Treatments now include sophisticated new medications, advancements in hair transplant surgery, and the cloning of individual hair cells in place of unnatural-looking transplants.
There is anticipation that new technology may make donor hair restrictions obsolete. The most promising concept of stem cell hair transplantation will be covered in this article.
The current state of hair transplant
The surgeon harvests grafts, or tiny pieces of skin, from the donor location, which is typically the back of the scalp, during the surgery.
After that, these grafts are implanted in the areas of the scalp where hair loss has taken place. After the procedure, the transplanted skin heals, and hair growth keeps
going, creating a hairline that looks natural. There are two main methods for hair transplantation:
FUT hair transplant, sometimes referred to as the “strip method,” entails removing a strip of hair follicles from the donor area using stereo-microscopic dissection.
After that, the region is sutured, preventing further scarring. The transplanted grafts from the excised follicles are separated into individual pieces and placed into the recipient area.
Because more follicles survive using this technique, the results look natural and are extremely full. Success rates can reach 95–98%, and recovery times are typically 10–12 days.
A common method for hair restoration is FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) hair transplantation. In this operation, a single follicular unit is taken randomly by small circular incisions from the donor area, which is typically the sides or back of the scalp.
Manual and robotic FUE are the two primary varieties. Robotic FUE hair transplant treatments accurately and precisely remove hair follicles from the donor area of the scalp using cameras and robotic arms.
With this technology, hair transplantation could be less intrusive, more effective, and possibly more successful. With this technology, hair transplantation could be less intrusive, more effective, and possibly more successful.
One of the main advantages of FUE hair transplant is that it produces results that seem natural and high-quality hair grafts with little discomfort and a quick recovery. Additionally, compared to other methods, FUE hair transplant leaves fewer scars.
Recent innovations in hair transplant procedures have introduced the NeoGraft technique, which is a semi-automated version of Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
This advanced technique offers several benefits over traditional FUE techniques and is considered one of the most modern methods of hair implantation. Here are the key points about the NeoGraft procedure:
Local Anesthetic: During the NeoGraft procedure, a local anesthetic is applied to the scalp to ensure a pain-free experience for the patient.
Suction Extraction: Instead of manually extracting hair follicles, the NeoGraft technique utilizes a wand that uses suction to remove the follicles. This automated process enhances efficiency and precision.
Incision-Free Implantation: Unlike other techniques, the surgeon does not need to make incisions for implanting new hair follicles. A specific tool is employed to create the necessary incisions and implant the follicles using pneumonic pressure.
Dressing Application: After the procedure, a dressing is applied to both the donor site (where follicles were extracted) and the implantation site. This dressing helps manage bleeding and aids in the healing process.
Healing Time: The implanted hair follicles typically heal within about a week, and most individuals can resume their usual routines within two weeks after the procedure.
Reduced Trauma and Damage: The NeoGraft system is designed to minimize trauma and damage to hair follicles compared to traditional FUE and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) surgeries. It leads to a lower chance of surgical complications and ensures better overall results.
Minimally Invasive: The NeoGraft technique is considered minimally invasive, as it does not require stitches or staples. It reduces the risk of scarring and simplifies the recovery process.
Automation and Precision: The automated nature of the NeoGraft technique removes the possibility of human error that could potentially cause damage to nerves or blood vessels. It ensures a higher level of precision during the procedure.
Time Efficiency: Compared to traditional FUE, the NeoGraft technique is generally quicker, typically taking between 4 and 10 hours to complete the entire procedure.
Pricing: The cost of a NeoGraft hair transplant procedure can vary based on several factors, including the experience and skill of the surgeon, the number of hair grafts being transplanted, and the cost of living in your area.
On average, the price ranges from $5 to $9 per hair graft. For 1,000 to 2,000 follicles, the total cost could range from $5,000 to $18,000.
Potential Risks: If the donor site is overharvested during the procedure, it can lead to a moth-eaten appearance and pinpoint scarring where follicles were removed.
Future trends and predictions
In the future, hair transplant procedures are expected to witness advancements and introduce new techniques. One such potential technique is stem cell hair transplant, which shares similarities with traditional hair transplants.
This procedure involves the removal of a small skin sample from which hair follicles are harvested. These follicles are then replicated in a laboratory setting and subsequently implanted back into the scalp in areas experiencing hair loss.
This technique allows hair to grow in both the donor and recipient areas, maximizing the effectiveness of the procedure. While stem cell hair transplants are currently only theoretical, ongoing research is being conducted to further explore and develop this innovative approach.
Stem cells play a crucial role in this future technique. Stem cells are unspecialized progenitor cells with the ability to develop into different types of cells.
They possess the unique characteristic of being able to divide and renew themselves, either remaining as stem cells or differentiating into specialized cell types.
In the case of stem cell hair transplants, the procedure begins with a punch biopsy to extract stem cells from the individual. This biopsy is performed using a circular blade instrument that is rotated into the skin, removing a cylindrical sample of tissue.
The stem cells are then separated from the tissue using a specialized machine called a centrifuge. Finally, the stem cells are injected back into the scalp in the areas experiencing hair loss. It is important to note that specific procedures may vary slightly, but the entire process generally takes around three hours to complete.
While stem cell hair transplants show promise, it is essential to understand that this technique does not guarantee specific outcomes, and results can vary from person to person.
However, preliminary research has indicated that stem cell hair transplants can effectively treat various hair loss conditions, including male androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness), androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness), and cicatricial alopecia (a condition where hair follicles are destroyed and replaced with scar tissue).
Following the procedure, it is expected that patients may experience some pain, which typically subsides within a week. Additionally, scarring may be observed in the area where the fat has been removed for stem cell extraction.
Currently, there is limited information available regarding the possible side effects of stem cell hair transplants. However, as with any medical procedure, there is always a risk of bleeding or infection at the site of the sample and injection.
Furthermore, there is a small risk of damage to the nerves or arteries beneath the procedure site. Despite these risks, stem cell hair transplants are considered very promising, with an Italian study demonstrating a 29% increase in hair density 23 weeks after the last treatment.
In terms of cost, since stem cell hair transplants are still in the research stages, the final fees have yet to be determined. However, estimated costs range from approximately $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the type and extent of hair loss being treated.
Cell treatment seeks to solve the issues of donor shortage. Dermal papillae and connective tissue sheath cells have been demonstrated to have technogenic potential in studies, thus the next challenge is to create a viable culturing system.
The problem today is to apply these ideas to human cells in vivo after making substantial strides in identifying growth agents and culture conditions that sustain cell echogenicity in vitro.
All attempts to date to use any kind of cell system, including DP cells, CTS cells, or stem cells derived from either HFs or adipocytes, have failed to yield any appreciable cosmetic effects.
The superficial stem cells that give rise to the epidermal cells and sebaceous glands are more primitive. Dermal papilla cells at the base of capillaries are mesenchymal in origin.
Due to their interdependence, both cells interact via the action of several growth factors to create the future follicular unit.
Growth factors that promote hair growth include vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and keratinocyte growth factor (KGF).
Several more growth factors, including VEGF, are also present in PRP. Studies show that VEGF is essential for hair biology and that VEGF-induced angiogenesis influences hair size to some extent.
The first concrete proof that enhanced follicle vascularization encourages hair development and improves follicle, and hair size was shown in 2001 by Yano et al13, who identified VEGF as a critical modulator of hair follicle growth and cycling.
The future trends of hair transplant procedures show a lot of promise, with ongoing research and innovation in the field. Newer medical therapies and stem cell injections are being explored, with the aim of regenerating hair without the need for traditional transplants.
Additionally, there are efforts to clone hair follicles, which could potentially revolutionize the field by providing a means to grow new hair.
Automation is also on the horizon, as experts predict that robotic devices will be able to perform extraction and implantation of grafts with minimal human involvement.
Male pattern baldness affects a significant percentage of men, around 50% to 60%. As a result, future plans involve investing more in stem cell research and improving surgical instruments and techniques to minimize pain and enhance the overall implantation process.
According to David Orentreich, MD, a professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the future of hair transplantation looks even brighter than the present.
The procedures are becoming more natural, leading to better outcomes for patients. Cloning, which has been achieved in other areas, holds the potential to be applied to hair follicles.
A breakthrough medication that is highly effective and safe in preventing hair loss may reduce the need for transplants in the future.
Ken Washenik, MD, Ph.D., the medical director of Bosley, a hair restoration practice, predicts that hair transplantations will continue to evolve, progressing towards smaller grafts and cell-based transplants.
The concept of injecting hair seeds into balding areas to stimulate the growth of new follicles is expected to become a reality within the next five years, complementing the existing follicle-based transplant techniques.
New York City dermatologist Bruce Katz, MD, director of the Juva Skin and Laser Center, emphasizes the potential of cloning in hair restoration. If successful, cloning would provide the best ability to restore hair, delivering optimal physical and cosmetic results.