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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
Hair Restoration Research

Dr. Christiano Discovers JAK Inhibitors as Potential New Topical Treatment for Hair Loss

Dr. Angela Christiano and her team of researchers at Columbia University studying the autoimmune disease Alopecia areata, have shed new light on how to move hair follicles from their resting (telogen) stage into the anagen phase where they can produce normal hairs. Their study, published in the October issue of Science Advances, introduces the possibility of a new topical medication for hair growth. The finding has implications in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (common hair loss) as well as Alopecia areata, which causes a non-scarring form of localized hair loss.

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Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Researchers Outline Hurdles Towards Hair Loss Therapy

Dr. Claire Higgins and her colleague Dr. Colin Jahoda have published an overview of hair cloning and the challenges scientists face in attempting to develop hair regeneration therapies for androgenetic alopecia, or common balding. The article, published in Hair Transplant Forum International, points to two central problems in developing a hair loss therapy. The first is the difficulty in getting dermal papilla cells in humans to self-aggregate and form hair follicles and the second is the inability, thus far, of scientists to generate normal hairs and follicles.

Higgins C, et al. 2014

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Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Breakthrough with “Mass Production” of Epithelial Stem Cells

Progress towards hair cloning may have just have shifted up another gear thanks to scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The breakthrough study published January 28th, 2014 is the first to show the successful transformation of adult human skin cells into quantities of epithelial stem cells necessary for hair regeneration.

The researchers, led by Dr. Xiaowei “George” Xu, started with human skin cells called dermal fibroblasts, then transformed those into a type of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These were then transformed into epithelial stem cells (EpSCs). This important step had never been achieved before in either humans or mice. The epithelial stem cells were combined with mouse dermal cells, that can be induced to form hair follicles, and then grafted on a mouse host. The epithelial cells and dermal cells then grew to form a functional human epidermis and follicles structurally similar to human hair follicles. The exhibits that accompany the study include photographic evidence of human hairs.

Yang R, et al. 2014

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Hair Restoration Answers

When will Dr. Christiano’s Research on Follicular Neogenesis (Hair Cloning) be Available?

Q: I read, with considerable interest, your excellent article on the latest in Dr. Angela Christiano’s work on follicular neogenesis. It seems to me that the next questions we should be asking are: when will testing begin on human subjects and when might her research develop into a hair cloning treatment that is available to the general public?

A: It is very difficult to determine when this phase of the research might begin and it is even harder to predict when treatment might become available. First, the technology is not quite there. Dr. Christiano showed in her recent paper that changing the environment of skin (fibroblast) cells so that they could form into 3-D cultures enabled them to induce human hair-follicle growth. Although this was a major step towards cloning hair, additional work needs to be done before we will be able to mass produce fully-functioning human hair follicles to the extent needed for hair transplantation.

In addition, research on human subjects requires that experiments meet rigorous federal regulatory standards and these take time to be approved and carried out. Supposing that further study of follicle neogenesis results in a breakthrough treatment for hair loss, this treatment would still require meeting substantial efficacy and safety requirements of the FDA before it would be made available to the public. We will be communicating important developments as they occur through our Hair Cloning Research section and through periodic updates in the Bernstein Medical Newsletter.

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Hair Restoration Research

Japanese Researchers Bioengineer Hair Follicles from Stem Cells, Dermal Papillae

Japanese researchers have demonstrated that scientists can bioengineer viable, hair-producing follicles from epithelial stem cells and dermal papilla cells. Using these components, the team produced follicles that exhibit both the normal hair cycle and piloerection (the reflex contraction of a tiny muscle in the hair follicles which creates what is commonly referred to as “goose bumps”). The bioengineered follicles also developed the normal structures found within follicles and formed natural connections with skin tissues, muscle cells, and nerve cells.

Toyoshima K, et al. 2012

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Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Study Shows RepliCel’s Efficacy In Increasing Hair Density

RepliCel Life Sciences; a company out of Vancouver, Canada; is studying the use of hair cloning techniques to treat male pattern baldness and hair loss in women.

The study is in progress, but analysis of the 6-month interim results of the first phases have been published. As indicated in the graphic above, the preliminary results at 6 months show that vellus hair density has increased 24.9%, terminal hair density has increased 14.5%, overall hair density increased by 19.2%, and cumulative thickness per area increased by 15.4%.

Also, almost two-thirds of subjects (10 subjects out of 16, or 63%) received a greater than 5% increase in hair density at the injection site. Of that group of 10 subjects, 7 of them saw hair density improve by more than 10%, with the biggest improvement in hair density being an increase of 19.6% in one subject.

Lortkipanidze N, et al. 2012

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Hair Restoration Research

RepliCel Hair Cloning Research Leads To Patents, Trials In Humans

RepliCel Life Sciences; a company based in Vancouver, Canada; is investigating hair cloning techniques in order to develop a treatment for androgenetic alopecia, or common genetic hair loss.

Research conducted by the company’s scientific founders and lead scientists, Drs. Kevin McElwee and Rolf Hoffmann, has shown that a certain type of cell, called a dermal sheath cup cell, is integral in initiating the growth of mature hair follicles. This mechanism of follicle growth, when coupled with previous research on dermal papillae cells, is key to our understanding of hair loss and is a potential avenue for developing a treatment that could reverse hair loss.

RepliCel. 2012
McElwee KJ, et al. 2003

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Dr. Bernstein Discusses Benefits Of Robotic FUE On Bloomberg TV

Dr. Bernstein Touts Benefits Of Robotic FUE On Bloomberg TVDr. Bernstein spoke with Bloomberg’s Matt Miller about the future of hair transplantation in a segment called, “The Bald Economy: Surgical Solutions to Hair Loss.” Here is an excerpt from the segment:

Bloomberg’s Matt Miller: Riding the wave into the future happens to be one of the pioneers of FUE, Dr. Robert Bernstein.

Dr. Bernstein: “The robot now allows a mechanized system to do [follicular unit extraction] very, very quickly and very consistently, so that the human error in this part of the procedure is now gone.”

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Hair Cloning “Just A Question Of Time” Dr. Bernstein Tells New York Times

NYT - New Stratagems in the Quest for HairDr. Bernstein is featured in a New York Times article — “New Stratagems in the Quest for Hair” — about the latest advances in hair restoration. The article mentions Dr. Bernstein’s pioneering research on hair cloning, including his studies on hair multiplication using the breakthrough biotechnology of ACell’s MatriStem® extracellular matrix.

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Press Release: Hair Transplant Pioneer Studies Hair Cloning, Hair Restoration Procedures Using ACell’s Extracellular Matrix

Hair Cloning with ACell MatriStemRobert M. Bernstein, M.D., F.A.A.D., the renowned hair transplant surgeon and founder of Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration in New York, is studying four different applications of ACell MatriStem™ extracellular matrix in a type of hair cloning, called hair multiplication, as well as current hair restoration procedures. Click the link to read the whole press release.

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Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Prospects Boosted By Breakthrough 3-D Culture Technique

Scientists from Durham University in the UK have shown for the first time that a lab technique, called a three-dimensional cell culture, can produce spherical structures that are similar to naturally occurring structures in hair follicle formation (called dermal papilla or DP). This breakthrough study by Claire Higgins and Colin Jahoda, published in the June 2010 issue of the journal Experimental Dermatology, has the potential to unlock the ability of researchers to develop functional DP cells which can be used in hair restoration techniques such as hair cloning or hair multiplication.

Higgins C, et al. 2010

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Hair Restoration Answers

What is an “Extracellular Matrix” In ACell’s Hair Cloning Technology?

Q: Like many people who are eagerly awaiting hair cloning, I read about ACell’s new technology, but what is an “extracellular matrix”? — S.B., Chicago, IL

A: An extracellular matrix, or ECM, is the substance between the cells in all animal tissues. It provides support to the cells and a number of other important functions. ECM is made up of fibrous proteins that form a web or mesh filled with a substance called glycosaminoglycans (GAG). One type of GAG, called hyaluronic acid, functions to hold water in the tissues. Another important part of the extracellular matrix is the basement membrane on which the epithelial cells of the skin and other tissues lie. Elastin in the ECM allows blood vessels, skin, and other tissues to stretch.

ECM has many functions including providing support for cells, regulating intercellular communication, and providing growth factors for wound healing and tissue regeneration.

Read more about ACell’s MatriStem ECM on our ACell for Hair Cloning page.

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Bernstein Medical In The News

A Breakthrough in Hair Cloning

ACell, Inc. - Regenerative Medicine TechnologyNew developments in regenerative medicine, presented at the 18th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society for Hair Restoration (ISHRS) this past week, may have opened the possibility that a patient’s hair can be multiplied in his own scalp.

ACell, Inc., a company based in Columbia, Maryland, has developed and refined an Extracellular Matrix (ECM), a natural biological material that can be implanted at the site of an injury or damaged tissue in order to stimulate a unique healing response. The ECM stimulates the body’s own cells to form new tissue specific to that site (a process referred to as “Auto-cloning”).

The ACell MatriStem devices have had some preliminary success in allowing plucked hairs that were placed into recipient sites on the patient’s scalp to grow. Although this is a major breakthrough, significant work remains in order for hair multiplication to become a practical treatment for hair loss in men and women.

It is also anticipated that the regenerative properties of Extracellular Matrix will facilitate the healing of the incision in the donor area after a hair transplant. We are currently offering ACell to all patients undergoing follicular unit transplant procedures at no additional charge.

We are currently studying the use of ACell for scalp hair multiplication as well as the facilitation of wound healing in follicular unit transplantation procedures. We are also treating select patients outside the studies. If you are interested in participating, please give us a call.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What are the Obstacles to Hair Cloning Using Plucked Hairs?

Q: What are the possible obstacles that you see with hair cloning using the plucking technique? — D.E., Boston, MA

A: Plucked hair does not contain that much epithelial tissue, so we do not yet know what the success of the procedure will be. Plucked hairs will most likely grow into individual hair follicles that are not follicular units and therefore, will not have completely the natural (full) look of two and three hair grafts. This limitation may be circumvented, however, by placing several hairs in one recipient site. It is possible that the sebaceous gland may not fully develop, so the cloned hair may not have the full luster of a transplanted hair.

The most important concern is that, since the follicle is made, in part, by recipient cells that may be androgen sensitive, the plucked hair derived follicles may not be permanent. It is possible, that since all the components of a normal hair may not be present, the cloned hair may only survive for one hair cycle.

Since the ACell extracellular matrix is derived from porcine (pig) tissue, the procedure may not be appropriate if you are Kosher or allergic to pork. Of course, we do not know what other obstacles may arise since this technique is so new –- or even if the ones mentioned above will really be obstacles at all -– only time will tell.

Follow the latest in Hair Cloning Research

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Hair Restoration Answers

Should I Have an FUT or FUE Hair Transplant, or Should I Wait for Hair Cloning?

Q: I heard that there have been some new advances in hair cloning and that it may be available sooner than we thought. I was planning on doing a hair transplant soon. Considering that hair cloning may be available at some point in the future, should I do FUE or FUT, or wait for cloning? — K.R., Fort Lee, NJ

A: Although there has been a major development in hair cloning with the use of ACell, an extracellular matrix to simulate hair growth, the model, at this point, is still in its earliest stages of development. It is hard to know when the technology will reach a state where it can be useful in hair restoration.

With respect to which you should do FUE or FUT if, theoretically, cloning is around the corner, the answer would be FUT, since FUT will give you the fuller look.

If the goal is to eliminate any trace of the traditional hair transplant, again FUT will most likely be the best choice, since the single linear scar would be easy to camouflage with cloned hair. With FUE, this would be much more difficult, since there are literally thousands of tiny scars. However, neither FUE nor FUT will preclude a patient from fully benefiting from cloning if, and when, it becomes available.

Read more:

Hair Cloning

Pros & Cons of FUE

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Hair Restoration Answers

What is ACell for Hair Cloning?

Q: I’ve read about some recent advances in hair cloning techniques with ACell. How does this work? — C.A., Stamford, CT

A: We, and several other groups, are engaged in studies using ACell MatriStem, a porcine extracellular matrix (ECM), to induce hair follicles to multiply in the patient’s own scalp (in vivo). This process differs from what people normally think of when speaking about cloning, namely producing populations of genetically identical cells, organs, or even individuals, in a test tube (in vitro).

In the current studies, a part of a hair follicle is implanted into the scalp in an extracellular matrix (ACell MatriStem), with the goal of inducing a complete follicle to form.

The concept is that if a small enough part of the donor follicle is removed, it will completely regenerate. Then, ACell MatriStem will induce the new hair fragment, implanted into the recipient site on the top of the scalp, to produce a new follicle –- thus we get two hairs from one. In one model being tested, hair is literally plucked from the scalp carrying with it enough genetic tissue to grow a new hair.

For more information, view our ACell page in the Hair Cloning section.

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Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Developments Possible With ACell Regenerative Medicine Technology

Hair cloning is one of the most hotly discussed topics in the field of hair transplantation today. “When will hair cloning become available?” and “How will it work?” are among the most frequently asked questions about treating hair loss that we receive at Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration.

New developments in regenerative medicine technology, presented at the 18th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society for Hair Restoration (ISHRS), may have opened the door to commercialization and medical use of new techniques which could provide an answer to both questions.

ACell, Inc., a company based in Columbia, Maryland, has developed and refined what they consider, “the next generation of regenerative medicine.”

For more information on this exciting development, view our page on ACell technology and hair cloning

Follow news and updates on our Hair Cloning News page.

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Hair Restoration Research

New Strategies for Tissue Regeneration

Two new avenues of scientific research, discussed in an article in the New York Times, might just help enable human beings to regenerate tissue. If we could tap into this capability, the possibilities for medical treatment are limitless. We could regrow an arm, a leg, a hand, repair a heart after a heart attack, or even regrow hair.

It is not a stretch to assume that if scientists can undo the inability of animals to grow heart muscle or limbs, we might someday be able to genetically reverse the inability of a bald person to grow hair.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can You Transplant Cloned Hair Into a Scar?

Q: If you have already had a hair transplant, once cloning becomes available, will you be able to transplant the cloned hair into the first transplant’s scar on the back of the head? I like to wear my hair short, especially in the summer, and also would feel more comfortable knowing there is no scar in my head. — H.I., Rockville Centre, N.Y.

A: Yes, as long as the scar is not thickened, cloned hair should grow just as normally transplanted hair would and would be a great way to address any residual scarring from the procedure.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Hair Cloning Technique Using ACell a Breakthrough?

Q: I just read a press release saying that researchers have developed a successful technique to clone hair by using a wound healing powder called MatriStem MicroMatrix. Is this new technique really a breakthrough in hair cloning? And if so, when can we start cloning hair?

A: It appears from preliminary studies that plucked hairs stimulated by ACell are in some cases able to regenerate new hair. Because the hair is placed into the recipient area and is partially derived from cells in the dermis, it is not yet clear whether the hair will be effected by androgens over time or if it will continue to bald.

The research so far is promising and a number of doctors are doing research in this area, including Dr. Schweiger and myself at Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Lgr5 Gene Discovery a Hair Cloning Breakthrough?

Q: I heard about the Lgr5 gene being a breakthrough in hair cloning. What’s the latest on that?

A: Many scientists feel that adult stem cells house the answer to cloning (regeneration) of hair follicles. One of the problems of hair cloning, however, is that the cells, once duplicated, “forget” that they are hair follicle cells.

It has recently been discovered that the Lgr5 gene, located in stem cells, appears to contain the “global marker” present in all adult hair follicles. If Lgr5 gene is the “calling card” of the cell, it may carry the cell lineage and shoulder the responsibility of signaling to surrounding stem cells what they are actually supposed to do as they multiply.

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Hair Restoration Research

Hair Cloning Shows Promise in New Stem Cell Study

A new study, using hair cloning therapy to regrow hair, shows promise for all individuals suffering from alopecia areata. The study — conducted by Marwa Fawzi, a dermatologist at the University of Cairo Faculty of Medicine, and reported on Bloomberg.com — used stem cells from the scalps of eight children with alopecia areata to regenerate their own hair.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Which is the Preferred Treatment for a Young Patient: Hair Transplant or Medication?

Q: I am 25 year old who just started going bald. My doctor confirmed that I have pattern baldness and put me on Propecia and Rogaine. I don’t want to go bald at any age. So, instead of prolonging the process for 5-10 years and then having a HT, isn’t it easier to let the hair loss continue and then have a HT, so, that I can save the money on drugs for years. — Z.B., Greenwich, C.T.

A: It is far better to keep your own hair. Keeping your own hair will generally look fuller than a hair transplant, since a hair transplant just re-distributes existing hair (until hair cloning techniques are available).

The medications (i.e. finasteride and minoxidil) are relatively cheap if you get the generic forms.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Why is Cell Differentiation the Major Obstacle for Hair Cloning?

Q: What is the major obstacle to hair cloning?

A: Although many problems remain, the main one is to keep cloned cells differentiated (the ability to perform a specialized function, like producing a hair). There are certain cells in the skin, called fibroblasts, which reside around the base of the hair follicle. These cells are readily multiplied in a Petri dish. When these cells are injected into the skin, they have the ability to induce a hair to form (they are differentiated). The problem is that when these cells are multiplied in culture, they tend to lose this ability (they become undifferentiated).

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Hair Restoration Answers

Will Hair Transplant Affect Ability for Hair Cloning or Vice Versa?

Q: If someone were to get a hair transplant now, and then in the future when hair cloning becomes a possibility, would the hair transplant grafts be affected by hairs from the hair cloning procedure?

A: Cloned hair should not be affected by hair that is transplanted the traditional way and visa versa. If you have a hair transplant now, the hair restoration surgeon can add more hair in the future when cloning becomes available.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What are Obstacles to Hair Cloning Techniques?

A: The main problem is that the cultured cells may lose their phenotype with multiple passages, i.e. lose their ability to differentiate into hair follicles after they have been multiplied.

Another problem of hair cloning is that the orientation of hair direction must be controlled. With mouse experiments, the hairs grow at all different directions. Scientists need to find a way to align the hair so that it grows in the right direction. Hair, of course, must also be of a quality that is cosmetically acceptable and matches the patient existing hair. And the hair should grow in follicular units. Individual hairs will not give the fullness or natural look of follicular units.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Are Hair Cloning, Hair Multiplication, and Follicular Neogeneis Different?

Q: What is the difference between hair cloning, hair multiplication, and follicular neogeneis? I have read about these terms on the internet and am completely confused.

A: Cloning generally refers to the multiplication of fetal stem cells or embryonic tissues. “Hair cloning”, as the term is generally used, involves the multiplication of adult tissue cells that are used to induce the formation of new hair, so the term is not exactly accurate.

“Hair multiplication” refers to the multiplication of adult hair structures. This model is not actively being pursued since the hair follicle is too complex to be simply cultured in a tube. Instead individual cells called fibroblasts are removed from the scalp multiplied in tissue culture and then these are injected back into the scalp in the hope that they will induce intact follicles to form.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Transplant Thicken Thinning Hair in Person with Early Hair Loss?

Q: I am 22 and losing my hair all across the top of my head. How can I thicken my hair to its level a few years previously? — I.L., Kentfield, CA

A: If medication, such as finasteride, is successful it can thicken hair by increasing the diameter of the existing hair shafts. Although the cosmetic benefits can be dramatic in a person with significant hair loss, a hair transplant can not restore hair to its original density, since it only moves the existing hair around and does create new hair.

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Hair Restoration Research

U.K. Invests in Hair Cloning Research

The British Government has awarded Intercytex a grant to automate the production of their new hair regeneration therapy. Intercytex is a cell therapy company that develops products to restore and regenerate skin and hair. Intercytex has partnered with a private company, The Automation Partnership (TAP), to develop an automated manufacturing process for their novel hair multiplication treatment.

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Hair Restoration Research

Summary: Hope Grows For Bald Baby Boomers

An English based company called Intercytex has claimed some success in its research on hair cloning with its first testing in humans. This technique is similar to the one initially proposed by Dr. Colin Jahoda and published in 1999.

The idea is that certain cells (called fibroblasts) found at the bottom of hair follicles can be separated from the follicles after they have been removed from the scalp, and then be used to form new follicles.

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Dr. Bernstein Encourages GQ Readers to ‘Grow Your Own’ Hair

Dr. Bernstein: Anatomically, follicular unit transplantation is the end of the line. The next step would be hair cloning, which is still quite a way off. The way you get the most amount of hair into the smallest wound — and ensure that it’s going to look natural — is by using a follicular unit transplant. We can create swirls, add sideburns…

The beauty of follicular transplantation is that the hair will take on the old wave that the original hair had.

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Dr. Bernstein Interviewed On Advances In Hair Transplant Surgery

Since the publication of ‘Follicular Transplantation,’ hair transplantation has undergone an “extreme makeover” itself, in part due do to the incredibly natural results that this powerful procedure can produce. FUT is now considered to be the state-of-the-art in hair transplant surgery and is currently the most widely used surgical hair restoration technique. Robert M. Bernstein M.D., Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Columbia University in New York City, sat with us for a Q&A on hair transplant surgery and its future.

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