Stem Cell Hair Transplant: Procedure, Recovery, Cost, and Considerations
Scientists and researchers have been studying stem cells and hair loss separately for years now, but these two fields are finally colliding in the form of stem cell hair transplant treatment.
However, experts in the field claim that these methods have come a long way in a short span of time, and many eager clients are lining up to give it a try. In fact, the biggest advancement within the last few years has been the precision of tools used in stem cell hair transplants — a huge leap from the 80s and 90s period of hair extraction from donors.
What are the key facts and figures you should know about stem cell hair transplant, and what can you expect when undergoing these treatments? How about cost, recovery, and other considerations?
Here’s the full breakdown you need about stem cell hair transplants.
What Is Stem Cell Hair Transplant?
With so much talk about stem cell therapy in the medical community in recent decades, you might already understand what stem cells are and what they do.
Simply put, stem cells are unspecialized cells that can develop into many different types of cells throughout the body. Their versatility and functionality make them a subject of keen scientific interest for many applications, from surgeries to cures and beyond.
Stem cells are also capable of numerous divisions, which can’t be said for cells that make up normal tissue in the body.
Stem cell therapy is already used to heal injuries in joints and ligaments, in addition to firming skin — hair transplants may beare the next big leap waiting to happen.
Who is Stem Cell Hair Transplant For?
The main appeal of stem cell hair transplant is that it might someday be an effective hair restoration method for both men and women, as well as patients suffering from non-conventional forms of hair loss.
In men, the leading cause of baldness is androgenetic alopecia, while women tend to experience thinning along the central “part” of the hair when nearing menopause.
Stem cell therapy is expected to help slow or reverse both of these trends.
In other words, the hope is that the applications of stem cell transplant for hair loss is are much broader than typical hair restoration surgeries like follicular unit transplant, excision, or hairline lowering.
Success Rate and Side Effects
While stem cell hair transplant therapy has not yet been perfected or proven for hair growth, is only just being made available to the public, there are some promising statistics from studies showing the effectiveness of the procedure.
In a well-known study from 2017, Italian researchers found that patients had a 29% increase in hair density in less than two months’ time – using nothing but stem cell therapy.
Other experimental trials were performed around the same time, although the FDA released a warning that same year, advising patients to only consider therapies that have been approved by their organization or studied under FDA-authorized Investigational New Drug Applications (IND).
While there have been some bumps in the road, the consensus on stem cell therapy is generally positive, and the same is said for the potential for hair transplants of the future usingwith this method.
In terms of side effects, we once again lack the testimonials and references to make a full assessment.
However, research trials show that side effects are few, with some minor bleeding in the recipient area of the stem cell injection and the off-chance of infection.
Stem cell therapies for injury recovery have shown minimal side effects as well, giving us a better understanding of the safety of these methods.
The Procedure and Recovery
Stem cell hair transplants are definitelyis definitely an intriguing idea for clients in search of a non-traditional approach to hair restoration, but what does the procedure entail from a patient’s perspective?
Here’s what the procedure involves and a look at the recovery process.
Stem Cell Hair Transplant Procedure
The procedure starts with the removal of tissue from the donor in an area of the body with healthy rates of hair growth. But unlike traditional hair transplants which harvest follicle units or strips of healthy hair, this approach targets stem cells with a punch biopsy via a circular blade, which removes a sample of tissue from beneath the skin.
With the sample obtained, stem cells are then isolated with a centrifuge, and this cell suspension is then injected into the target area of hair loss in the scalp, typically the hairline and vertex.
The process is done entirely in-clinic and on an outpatient basis, and usually takes no more than three hours to complete. Compared to FUT and other traditional hair transplant methods, it is non-invasive and pain-free.
Procedures are still being developed with slightly different methods, but this is the general approach one can expect from stem cell hair transplants in their current stage.
When recovering from stem cell hair transplant, patients should avoid heavy exercise and other strenuous physical activity for about a week following the procedure.
Some minor tenderness and discomfort are expected in the donor and target areas on the scalp, although there should be no excessive scabbing, bleeding, or irritation that could result from traditional hair transplant techniques.
Like any procedure, patients should pay close attention to the recovery and aftercare protocols described by doctors, especially with the experimental nature of stem cell hair transplants. These directions will vary across clinics and surgeons and must be followed closely.
Hair restoration specialists may also prescribe additional treatments to patients to help accelerate the results of the therapy, whether in the form of topical solutions or oral medications.
Anyone receiving stem cell hair transplant therapy should be in close contact with their clinic and specialists when recovering from the procedure and bring attention to unusual activity.
While some scarring at the site of the sample and injection may occur, proper care of these areas can limit the visibility and severity of scars. Patients might also be directed to make certain lifestyle changes to maximize the results of stem cell hair transplant treatment.
While some therapies may be marketed as “one-and-done,” others are structured in sessions that will take place over many months or even more than one year.
The scope of the treatment will depend on factors like the extent of hair loss, the age of the patient, existing medical conditions, and past history with hair restoration therapies and medications.
Some studiesclinics suggest that two sessions are the optimal number for most patients, while three or more may be needed for more severe cases of hair loss or cases involving non-conventional causes like scarring or autoimmune conditions.
Cost Estimates and Availability
We have only just begun to see stem cell hair transplant therapy make its way to the mainstream, and costs will vary widely based on factors like exclusivity, high demand, and the present lack of practice and certifications in the field once it becomes available.
However, early figures show that these therapies will likely be on par with conventional hair transplants in terms of price, ranging from $53,000 to $150,000, depending on the procedure.
Once again, the factors that determine the cost of procedures like FUT will play a role here, including the degree of hair loss, surgeon skill and credentials, timing, and more.
Stem cell hair transplant therapy will not be covered by insurance in most cases, so patients should be prepared to pay out of pocket or agree upon a payment structure with the clinic.
Seeking the Experts
Stem cell surgery and rejuvenation clinics may be among the first to offer services like this, but we suggest you consult with a hair restoration specialist prior to deciding on a clinic.
A professional in the field of hair restoration will give you a full breakdown of your hair loss situation and allow you to explore all of your options, which might include other forms of therapy, treatment, or surgery.
Be sure to read reviews and testimonials, and be sure that your chosen physician has a thorough understanding of stem cell therapy before making your final decision. A great surgeon will help you weigh the pros and cons of each approach and help you decide on the best strategy.
Start on the Path to Hair Restoration
There are many questions still unanswered about stem cell hair transplants, but one thing is for sure: this is an exciting time to see research and technology development in this field.
Considering the technology that keeps evolving, stem cell hair transplants could be the norm within the next five to ten years — reducing the chances of pattern hair loss altogether.
If you’re interested in learning more about stem cell hair transplant therapy, or you’re simply curious about your options for hair restoration in general, we urge you to book a virtual or in persondigital consultation or contact us with any questions.
Innovative Techniques in Hair Transplantation | ISHRS
Advanced in Stem Cell Therapy for Hair Loss | NIH
Stem cells from human hair follicles: first mechanical isolation for immediate autologous clinical use in androgenetic alopecia and hair loss | NIH
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