The Future Of Hair Loss Treatment

If you want to spark debate and controversy in science, all you have to do is utter three words - 'Stem. Cell. Therapy'.

If you want to spark debate and controversy in science, all you have to do is utter three words - 'Stem. Cell. Therapy'.

This regenerative medicine is the process of taking living, functional tissues from one part of the body and using it to repair another.

In many cases, it's there to provide an alternative to more invasive options, like surgery.

And while it's not without its detractors, it's making a huge impact on a global scale and looks pretty much here to stay.

To doubters it may be experimental, but its uses are many, including in the treatment of conditions like arthritis, Crohn's disease, Muscular dystrophy and even Parkinson's disease.

And after a successful recent clinical trial I was part of, stem cell therapy is opening up brand new avenues when it comes to pattern hair loss too.

Considering it's a problem that affects around 45 per cent of all women and half of all men, it could be an important breakthrough indeed.

It began with a theory.

Hair transplant surgeons suspected an important interplay between hair follicle cells and 'adipose' - connective tissue which stores fat in large globules.

We had the idea that adding more adipose in the scalp and around hair follicles - which are present, but not growing - could stimulate growth.

And so we developed a technique where fat cells are taken from elsewhere in the body, typically the stomach via liposuction, before being enhanced with 'stromal vascular fraction' stem cells and injected into affected areas of the scalp suffering loss of hair.

We recently tested this 'autologous fat transplantation' method on six healthy patients.

The results are encouraging: the patients experienced an average 93 per cent increase in hair growth, combined with a 23 per cent increase in 'hair count', after just six months.

In other words, it improves the growth of hair that's already there and thickens hair that's so fine it's almost invisible.

What's exciting is that this treatment represents an alternative option for patients, sitting between established medications like finasteride or minoxidil and hair transplant surgery.

For some, hair transplant surgery simply isn't an option, particularly where hair loss is in its infancy, patients have diffuse thinning, or where there's poor donor availability.

So there's an important gap to fill between these medicinal and transplant options - which is where fat transfer may come in.

And let's not forget that hair loss can affect men and women mentally and emotionally.

I know this for a fact, as I've been through it myself, which is why any new methods of combating baldness are to be applauded and studied further.

It's early days, but it's my view that autologous fat transplantation will reinvigorate and revolutionise the hair transplant industry as we know it.