A frequent question I am asked at consultation is, "Can I have a full head of hair again?" The answer is unfortunately "no".
Some of our patients like Louis Walsh and James Nesbitt appear as if they do have a full head of hair but in reality we can only use the patient's own hair to transplant, no new hair is created during the procedure.
However, when a hair transplant is carried out properly by an experienced team, led by a qualified surgeon, the illusion of fullness is created. This can go a long way to satisfying a patient's concerns.
While growing a patient's hair from scratch is currently not possible, there is some excellent research work being carried out in laboratories throughout the world looking at the science behind hair loss and scientific treatments for this. For example hair cloning, stem cell research and gene therapy.
At this point in time I believe that stem cell research may give us the answer. I think that when laboratories start producing hearts, livers and kidneys etc. then the growing of hair through stem cells should just be around the corner.
Hair may look like a relatively simple structure, you see it every day, it's on your head, whereas in fact it is a very complex organ. It is an organ that reproduces itself approximately every three years which means that all the hair that is on your head today will in approximately three years time be completely gone and replaced by a whole new set of hair follicles!
And what is amazing about hair transplants is the transplanted hair retains this characteristic and will continue to reproduce itself approximately every three years in its new location on the scalp.
It is my belief that a patient in their early 20s who attends with us today will, by the time they reach their 60s have a full head of hair and it will be the scientific advancements related to stem cell research that will put it there. However, as of today the work of these scientists is still at a research level and nothing of practical value has yet reached the clinical level.
So for those men and women who are losing their hair today for the moment the two FDA approved drugs Minoxidil and/or Finasteride, which help to stabilise the hair loss process, along with hair transplant surgery, which relocates hair that is immune to the balding process to bald or thinning areas, remain the best chance of retaining and creating a fuller looking head of hair.
For more information about hair loss and hair transplant surgery visit www.hrbr.co.uk
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