A stem cell hair transplant is similar to a traditional hair transplant. But rather than removing a large number of hairs to transplant in the area of hair loss, a stem cell hair transplant removes a small skin sample from which hair follicles are harvested.
The follicles are then replicated in a lab and implanted back into the scalp in the areas of hair loss. This allows hair to grow where the follicles were taken from, as well as where they’re transplanted.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are cells that have the potential to develop into different types of cells found in the body. They’re unspecialized cells that are unable to do specific things in the body.
However, they’re able to divide and renew themselves to either stay stem cells or become other types of cells. They help repair certain tissues in the body by dividing and replacing damaged tissues.
A stem cell hair transplant was successfully performed by in 2017.
The procedure begins with a punch to extract stem cells from the patient. The punch biopsy is performed using an instrument with a circular blade that’s rotated into the skin to remove a cylindrical sample of tissue.
The stem cells are then separated from the tissue in a special machine called a centrifuge. It leaves a cell suspension that’s then injected back into the scalp in the areas of hair loss.
There are working on stem cell hair loss treatments. While the procedures may vary slightly, they’re all based on growing new hair follicles in a lab using a small skin sample from the patient.
Currently, there are some clinics offering a version of stem cell hair transplants to the public. These aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They’re considered investigational.
In 2017, the FDA released a about stem cell therapies. The warning advises anyone considering stem cell therapies to choose those that are either approved by the FDA or being studied under an Investigational New Drug Application (IND). The FDA authorizes INDs.
These procedures are performed in-office on an outpatient basis. They entail removing fat cells from the patient’s abdomen or hip using a procedure under local anesthesia. A special process is used to remove the stem cells from the fat so that they can be injected into the scalp. This procedure takes approximately three hours.
The clinics that currently offer this procedure can’t provide a guarantee for the outcome of the procedure. The results, if any, can vary from person to person. It may require several treatments over many months to see results.
Some research has found stem cell hair transplants can be effective in treating different hair loss conditions, including:
male androgenetic alopecia
Stem cell hair transplant recovery
Some pain following the procedure is expected. It should subside within a week. No recovery time is required, though excessive exercise should be avoided for a week. Some scarring can be expected where the fat has been removed.
You won’t be able to drive yourself home following the procedure because of the effects of the local anesthesia.
Stem cell hair transplant side effects
There’s very little information available about the possible side effects of stem cell hair transplants. As with any medical procedure, there’s always the risk of bleeding or infection at the site of the sample and the injection. Scarring is also possible.
Though complications from a punch biopsy are rare, there’s a of damage to the nerves or arteries beneath the site. Liposuction can also cause the same side effects and complications.
Stem cell hair transplant success rate
The research available on the success rate of stem cell hair transplants is very promising. The results of the Italian study showed a 29 percent increase in hair density 23 weeks after the last treatment.