Stem cell hair transplantation is a revolutionary treatment for patients experiencing different degrees of hair loss.
But it can seem like a radical option compared to proven treatments, such as an FUE hair transplant.
If you’re considering stem cell hair restoration, it’s vital that you understand how it works, what results it can achieve, and how much it’s likely to cost so you can make an informed decision.
We’ll explore each of these key factors (and more) below.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are cells capable of renewing themselves and evolving into various cell types found inside the human body. They can replace cells that become damaged due to injury or disease, helping organs and tissue function properly.
Stem cells are unable to perform specific tasks in the body in their basic form. But by dividing and renewing, they can remain stem cells or transform to take on critical roles.
How does stem cell hair transplantation work?
While it’s easy to assume that stem cell hair transplantation is a far more complex process than, say, an FUE hair transplant, it’s surprisingly similar. The difference is that stem cells are transplanted rather than hair follicles.
The aim of a stem cell hair transplant is to introduce new stem cells into the target area. These will replace those hair follicles that have stopped producing new strands and lead to fresh growth on the scalp.
Stem cells will likely be taken from hair follicles during the procedure, though they could be sourced from blood or fat cells too.
These stem cells are extracted from the patient via a punch biopsy. The surgeon will use a high-precision tool fitted with a circular blade to take a sample of tissue from one or more areas.
A local anaesthetic will be applied to the skin before the sample is extracted to keep the patient comfortable throughout.
The sample is then placed into a centrifuge, a machine that rotates a container at incredible speed to separate the stem cells from the tissue. Next, the isolated cells will be injected into those areas on the scalp affected by hair loss.
How long does the recovery procedure take after the transplantation?
The post-treatment recovery process is typically fairly short. You should be allowed to go home after the procedure ends — it’s unlikely that you would need to stay in the clinic/hospital for observation.
It’s recommended that you ask someone else to drive you home for safety reasons, due to the anaesthetic in your system.
It’s also crucial that you take care of the treatment area. Avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for a few days (possibly even a week). This may require you to take time away from work if your role is particularly physical.
What results can you get with HST?
One stem cell hair transplantation study found that patients’ hair density increased by 29 percent 23 weeks after their treatment.
One of the first patients to undergo a stem cell hair transplant in the UK found his hair began to grow back after years of thinning and baldness. You can see the results below:
The regrowth is impressive, but no more so than what patients can expect from an FUE hair transplant. For example, the FUE2 Safe System causes 95 – 100% of transplanted hairs to grow back (see below).
How much does a stem cell hair transplant cost?
The cost of a stem cell hair transplant is likely to vary from one clinic or hospital to another.
For example, the UK procedure discussed above was priced at £2000. But that may not be the same for every patient.
The cost will depend on the extent of the hair loss: the bigger the thinning/balding area, the higher the price.
This is true of any hair transplant — the cost of an FUE hair transplant is based on the number of grafts required to achieve the desired growth.
A small FUE procedure to restore growth in the hairline alone may involve 1000 grafts but more comprehensive hair loss, such as advanced male pattern baldness, might demand 4000 or 5000 grafts instead.
Clinics or hospitals may be reluctant to offer their stem cell hair transplant prices at the research stage of a patient’s journey. They might invite patients to contact their team by phone, email, or in person before they provide a quote.
It’s crucial that you take the time to research stem cell hair transplantation before you make your choice, as with any other form of hair restoration treatment. Speak with experts and explore other patients’ results so you know what to expect.
Will stem cells be the future for hair transplantation?
At the time of writing, it’s hard to determine whether or not stem cells are the future of hair transplantation.
Patients experiencing hair loss in any form have more treatments to choose from than ever today, and over time, stem cell hair transplants may become just as common as FUE or FUT techniques.
But patients may require more evidence of success rates (both short- and long-term) and safety before they feel comfortable opting for a stem cell hair transplant over extensively tried-and-tested alternatives.
More research is required, and the amazing results that surgeons can achieve with the latest FUE hair transplant procedures mean there may be little justification for a more complex option.
Stem cells have the ability to divide and renew themselves. They can develop into other cell types in the human body to help repair damaged tissue or organs.
The first successful stem cell hair transplant was performed by researchers in Italy in 2017. This led to a 29% increase in hair density in just under two years.
Stem cell hair transplantation is available to patients now. However, options are limited as the treatment is still in its infancy.