Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 9/16/2021
When you hear the term stem cells, what comes to mind? Is it a lab filled with scientists in crisp white coats with beakers and test tubes? What about genetic programming, diseases and cures? How about hair loss treatments?
While there is a ton of science behind stem cells and their applications — and a widely covered controversy surrounding the ethics of stem cell research — when it comes to stem cell hair restoration a lot of men are still left scratching their (possibly bald?) heads.
However, stem cell hair restoration has joined the ranks of more well-known hair transplant methods as a viable option.
But before we get into hair transplants as a solution, let’s first explore hair loss itself.
With hair loss being such a common affliction affecting up to 80% of Caucasian men and up to 40% of Caucasian women by the time they reach the age of 70, it’s no wonder there’s such a demand for treatments and solutions.
Especially when you factor in the fact that hair loss can cause lower self-esteem, depression and an overall lower quality of life.
Hormones: Hair follicle structure and the hair growth cycle are highly affected by hormones like testosterone and estrogen or sudden shifts in hormone levels.
Aging: According to this study, male pattern baldness becomes more common with age.
Genetics: Certain genetic variations are a major determining factor in male pattern baldness.
It’s important to note that these aren’t the only contributing factors and that hair loss can be triggered by anything from metabolic stress and medications to severe infection, crash dieting or iron deficiency.
This is why it’s so important to talk to a healthcare professional about hair loss before making any major changes to your routine.
Without getting too heavy into the science, there are typically some pretty common questions when it comes to deciding whether or not stem cells are the right treatment for hair loss for you.
This whole time we’ve been waxing poetic about stem cells and their application as a treatment for hair loss and we haven’t stopped to make sure we’re all on the same page as to what a stem cell even is. Stem cells are cells from the human body that exist in both adult cells and embryos.
These cells have the ability to develop into any cell of an organism, and can also self renew. No, not like Wolverine.
But also...not unlike Wolverine? We digress. But, you get the picture, right?
So where do these stem cells for a hair transplant come from, you ask? A fair question but fret not!
The stem cells used for these procedures come from the patient himself — or herself — using a technique called punch biopsy.
This involves administering a local anesthetic and using a circular blade to puncture the epidermis and dermis layers to get to the subcutaneous fascia layer of the skin — which is where the hair follicles live.
The needed samples are then retrieved from that layer for the rest of the hair stem cell transplant procedure.
Once that’s completed the solution is injected into areas of the scalp so that the solution will stimulate new hair growth.
Since all stem cell treatments aren’t FDA approved, stem cell hair transplants are considered investigational therapy or clinical trials.
What this means for stem cell hair transplant cost is that it varies greatly, and judging by the fact that certain clinics offer financing, we’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Ultimately, the best way to find out is to talk to a hair transplant specialist.
So, now that you understand a bit more about what’s involved with the actual stem cell hair transplant procedure, you probably want to weigh the pros and cons.
As mentioned earlier, there’s been some controversy surrounding the ethics of stem cell research and stem cell therapy born from disputes over when personhood begins, since many stem cells are taken from embryonic cells.
While some critics argue against stem cell research altogether, others focus on the potential for new treatments for diseases like diabetes and Parkinson’s.
In this study, done with 22 participants — 11 men and 11 women — reported adverse events included post-procedural pain.
While results can vary, this study — which included 11 individuals aged 38 to 61 — reported a 29% increase in hair density in the treated areas.
It’s important to note that the FDA warns: “Some patients may be vulnerable to stem cell treatments that are illegal and potentially harmful.”
While there are pros and cons to any hair loss treatment, procedure or surgery, it’s always best to speak with a licensed health professional to help you weigh your options.
Your best hair loss solution might not involve surgery or potentially painful procedures.
If stem cell hair transplant or hair restoration doesn’t sound like the right choice for you right now, there are a number of different treatments available both over-the-counter and by prescription.
And if the cosmetic route is more your speed, press pause on stem cell hair therapies for a bit and read up on hair tattoo procedures and wigs to give you that full head of hair you’ve been looking for.
Male pattern baldness is a common problem with a number of surgical and non-surgical solutions.
So whether you’re looking to be on the cutting-edge of stem cell research and explore getting a hair stem cell transplant OR you’re leaning more toward one of the many non-surgical options on the market, it always pays to do your homework and talk to a healthcare professional.
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