This stem cell therapy needs only a dime-size donor spot on the scalp: 50 to 100 hairs, as opposed to the bloody, painful four-to-five-inch strip of 1,000 hairs typically required for a hair transplant.
“It’s been, I would say, kind of the holy grail in the field to be able to find something that is less invasive, less surgically intensive and can capitalize on the natural properties of these hair stem cells,” said Professor Christiano, who herself suffers from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes partial or total hair loss.
Her hope is that the procedure (she has helped start a company named Rapunzel to develop it) will eventually become another lunchtime cosmetic treatment. Once a patient has had her cells harvested and cultured, they could be stored indefinitely; then, after giving her doctor a month’s notice (the time it takes to grow the million needed), she could pop in for injections. Costs would likely be on par with hair transplants, roughly $10,000 and up.
Laser treatment companies, which claim their devices can reverse shrinking of the follicles, stimulate hair growth and more, are also targeting women with caps and combs. For example, the $895 Theradome, a cap that looks like the top of a bike helmet, has been cleared by the F.D.A. for women. Users wear it for 20 minutes twice a week.
If that sounds a little too much like a late-night infomercial, consider that Dr. Shani Francis, a dermatologist in Skokie, Ill., often recommends laser treatments in conjunction with minoxidil in her practice, which is 90 percent female.
Skeptics (among them, Dr. Wesley) are starting to come around after a 2014 randomized double-blind study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology found a “statistically significant” difference in hair density for women who used a laser comb compared with those who used a sham device. (“Comb” is something of a misnomer. The device looks like a hairbrush crossed with a cordless phone; it is glided back and forth across the scalp, roughly a half-inch at a time, usually about 15 minutes three times a week.)
Some of Dr. Piliang’s patients took part in the study, but in her practice as a whole she hasn’t seen similar results from the combs, perhaps because of a lack of compliance.
“It’s some effort to use these things,” she said. “I tell patients it definitely won’t work if it sits in your drawer.”
Now men can have hair transplants using hair from their CHEST
● Transplants often involve taking hair from area of head where it’s plentiful
● This is then transplanted onto areas where the hair is thinning or receding
● But some men do not have enough hair in the ‘donor’ area
● This means hair transplant has been impossible or not very successful
● New technique uses combination of head hair and shaved hair from chest