Baldness is a sign of aging that effects a large portion of the male population. Women tend to get hair thinning as they grow older. When it occurs at an early age it’s particularly troubling in our youth-oriented society. Hair transplants have become a popular treatment, but they're frequently obvious and a very incomplete solution. Rogaine and some other drugs may help a little, but the effects are limited.
This is still an area of exploration in regenerative medicine. While diseases, cancer therapy, medications or chemicals may cause hair loss most of the time it is caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and hormone imbalance. The hormone in question is dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a metabolite of testosterone. As you might expect this means that men are more affected and harder to treat than women. The end result is that the hair follicles (the little holes in your scalp from which hair grows) shrivel up and become dormant. Treatment with drugs that suppress DHT, however, has been only modestly effective.
Theoretically the injection of stem cells and/or PRP should stimulate the growth of hair follicles or reactivate the growth of hair in old ones. The best way to do this hasn’t yet been found. Many doctors have tried injecting PRP by itself, and have had some success. Here is a typical story.
However, recently a new technique using PRP in conjunction with vitamins and extracellular matrix material seems to have markedly improved results. This treatment regimen has pretty much a 100% success rate in women with one treatment and about an 80% success rate in men with two treatments. Obviously there is still room for improvement, but reports are that some cosmetic surgeons are giving up doing hair transplants in favor of this new technique.
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