The search for the ultimate cure for hair loss has been underway for years. It is like searching for the Holy Grail or the elusive fountain of youth. But thanks to modern science there are a number of ways available today to work around the problem. For instance, there are hair loss medications, hormone therapies, and hair transplant surgery. But studies are also emerging today which supports a viable treatment for hair loss through stem cells.
What are stem cells?
I don’t want to bore you with a science lecture, but give you a heads up on what these particular structures are.
Picture someone who is baking cookies. After making the dough, the person takes a cookie cutter and cuts it out into different shapes. Some are formed like a star; some are hearts, while other takes the generic circle.
Stem cells work in the same fashion. They are called “mother cells” or undifferentiated cells that have the potential to transform into any type of cell in the body. They can either turn into blood cells, skin cells, cardiac cells, muscle cells, etc.
Having this ability, they are used in a number of treatments today to aid in certain conditions, and one of those is hair loss.
How can stem cells help deal with baldness?
Instead of transplanting hairs from the donor sites at the back of the head to the recipient site, with stem cell therapy the doctor can transplant hair stem cells into the hairless regions of the scalp. These stem cells take in the characteristic of its environment that is why they develop into hairs.
Another approach to this type of therapy is to gather the patient’s stem cells and grow the hairs in a laboratory. They then take these hairs and then transplant them into the bald areas.
Today we can see a lot of stem cell therapies advertised by a lot of clinics and companies.
Do these treatments actually work?
Aside from medical reasons lot of clinics offer stem cell treatment mostly for anti-aging purposes, but some also market it for the treatment of hair loss. These companies claim that the process of gathering these stem cells are safe and ethical because they only use the patient’s own and not derived from embryonic stem cells. They take these cells and transform them into new hair that is more enduring.
Another source is the Autologous Adipose Adult stem cells. According to peer reviewed medical papers, these are known to be better than embryonic stem cells because they are safer and more effective. For adults the usual part of the body where stem cells are teeming is the bone marrow, but this would require an invasive, painful and more expensive procedure. The adipose or the fat tissue is considered to be a rich source of stem cells compared to the bone marrow. In this area it is easier to retrieve the stem cells and with less discomfort.
In this process the doctor will take a small sample of a healthy donor adipose tissue, then they separate and grow them into a culture that would create sufficient volume for hair loss treatment. These stem cells are then differentiated with growth factors to sway them into the desired growth. After this procedure the stem cells are then injected into the scalp to release the growth factors and commence the process of hair regrowth.
In other clinics fat cell derived from fat is referred to as fat stem-cell therapy (FSCR). The fat is removed from the patient’s stomach through a mini-liposuction or lipo aspiration. The harvested fats are then placed in a machine called the automatic stem cell isolation system to for processing and eventually produce fresh stem cells which are ready for injection.
This is substantiated further by a recent study that was released by the UCLA’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They are able to isolate stress-resistant human pluripotent stem cells from body fat in the waistline area. However extensive liposuction is needed in order to gather the adequate amounts of stem cells. These stem cells are then sent overnight to a company who will freeze them for future use.
But just this May, L’Oreal announced their breakthrough hair loss product that is fueled by stem cells. They claim that it works by “reawakening” dormant hair cells to let them grow back.
The product is named Densifique, and scientists shared in an interview with The Telegraph that it regenerates the roots by targeting the areas of the scalp that is prone to hair loss instead of the actual fibers. It creates an instant densifying effect as it increases the number of hairs on the head.
However, there are mixed reviews about this treatment because there are no long term studies that would support its effectiveness, and there is no mention of a control group.
Over all stem cells has shown to be a promising treatment for hair loss. Some may need a single treatment, while in other cases they come as a package. Compared hair transplant surgery, laser therapy or other hair loss treatments, stem cell therapy is unarguably more expensive. Although it may provide lasting results once the hair grows back, but you just have to prepare your pockets for this highly specialized treatment.