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Hair Restoration Research

JAK Inhibitors Prove Effective in Trials on Alopecia Areata

Two new studies researching a class of drugs called JAK inhibitors have shown that oral treatment results in significant hair regrowth in patients with alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that causes non-scarring patches of localized hair loss. Currently there is no cure for alopecia areata, so the possibility of a safe, effective medication is welcome news for thousands of affected patients. The two studies were published in September 2016 in the journal JCI Insight, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to biomedical research.

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Hair Restoration Research

Study Identifies A Possible Cause of Age-Induced Hair Loss

We have known for decades that the incidence of male pattern baldness increases with age. New research published in the February 2016 edition of the journal Science has shed light on why this is the case. Researchers examining the role of hair follicle stem cells (HFSC) in the hair growth cycle have found that accumulated DNA damage in these cells results in the depletion of a key signaling protein and the progressive miniaturization of the hair follicle (and eventual hair loss). The study represents a breakthrough in our understanding of the cell aging process and could open new pathways for the treatment of not only hair loss, but other age-related conditions as well.

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Hair Restoration Research

Study Confirms Importance of Dermal Sheath Stem Cells in Hair Growth Cycle

Colony of self-renewing dermal sheath cellsColony of self-renewing dermal sheath cells

New research published in the journal Developmental Cell has confirmed the importance of dermal sheath stem cells in maintaining the hair growth cycle. These cells, located around the lower portion of growing follicles, form the basis of an experimental treatment, being developed by Replicel Life Sciences, Inc., to regenerate hair-producing follicles. If successful, the treatment will be a game-changer for the hair restoration industry.

Rahmani W, et al. 2014

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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

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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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Propecia After Hair Transplant Cause Shedding Of Normal Terminal Hair?

Q: I have been reading various articles and forum postings and it would seem that a person utilizing Propecia might experience increased “shedding” of hairs (outside of the normal hair cycle) around the 12 week mark after a hair transplant and lasting around 2-4 weeks. The forum postings suggest that one will see not only the miniaturized hairs being lost but also normal terminal hair in larger than expected levels. Does an explanation exist to explain this increase in shedding hairs?

A: Our understanding is that finasteride only affects miniaturized hairs — i.e. hair affected by DHT — and that this is all that should be shed. Remember, however, that much of the thinning a bald person experiences is due to thousands of partially miniaturized hair, and these can look very much like a full terminal hair in its early stages.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What Does Hair Transplant Procedure Do To Existing Hair?

Q: What does the hair transplantation process do to your existing hair? — R.V., London, UK

A: When we perform hair transplant surgery, we transplant into an area that is either bald or has some existing hair. The hair that is existing is undergoing a process called miniaturization. What this means is that the hairs are continuing to decrease in size – both in diameter and in length. When we perform a hair transplant, we don’t transplant around the existing miniaturized hair on your scalp, we transplant through it. And the reason why we do that is because the miniaturized hair, the fine hair that is being affected by DHT, is eventually going to disappear, so you don’t want there to be any gaps.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After Hair Transplant What Is Normal Growth Cycle of Hair?

Q: After my hair transplant procedure I had some shock loss, and then after about 4 1/2 to 7 months I had tremendous growth — really thick. I was amazed actually. Now, at 8 months it has thinned again, quite a lot compared to the growth I had before. I just wondered if this was a normal growth pattern and whether further growth could be expected? — N.T., Brooklyn, NY

A: This is not the most common situation, but should not be a cause for concern. The newly transplanted hairs are initially synchronous when they first grow in — i.e. they tend to all grow in around the same time (with some variability). This is in contrast to normal hair, where every hair is on its own independent cycle. Sometimes the newly transplanted hair will shed at one time before the cycles of each hair become more varied asynchronous.

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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

Why Do You Shed Hair in First Months of Treatment with Rogaine?

Q: I started thinning and saw more hair in the tub. I began Rogaine and stopped shampooing every night and is seems that there is now more coming out every time I shower. What is going on? — E.U., Short Hills, NJ

A: Rogaine can cause shedding at the beginning of treatment (i.e. in the first 3 months) but this is expected as it causes some hair to begin a new cycle of shedding and re-growth. This means the medication is working.

Another reason for your apparent shedding is that the less you wash your hair, the more will be lost each time. Go back to shampooing every day and see what happens.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After a Hair Transplant Does Hair Grow in Stages?

Q: I had my first hair transplant of 1100 grafts five months ago. The hair has been growing in well and I am very satisfied with the progress, but the new growth appears to occur in different cycles. Some of the hair never fell out and started growing within weeks. At around three months, a lot more started to grow, and now there seems to be even more growth of new hair coming in its finer stages. Is it normal for transplanted hair to begin growing at different times? Why does some hair come in looking thick and other hair start off finer and then gradually thicken up? — E.R., Bushwick, N.Y.

A: You are describing accurately how hair grows after a hair transplant. After the hair restoration procedure, the transplanted stubble is shed and the hair goes into a dormant phase. Several months later, growth begins as fine, vellus hair that thickens over time. The hair usually does not have its original thickness right away.

Typically, growth occurs in waves so that initially some areas will have more hair than others. Over the course of a year the cycles will even out and the hair will thicken to its final diameter.

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Hair Restoration Research

Summary: Hair Follicle Regeneration in Adult Mouse Skin After Wounding

This study demonstrates that after wounding the skin of an adult mouse, an embryonic-like change in the epidermal cells outside of the hair follicle stem cells can be induced to form new hair follicle stem cells. In other words, these cells originate from epidermal skin cells in the wound, but then are able take on the characteristics of hair follicle stem cells and actually produce hair.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Propecia Treat Diffuse Unpatterned Alopecia (DUPA)?

Q: I am 26 and I have been diagnosed with Diffuse Unpatterned Alopecia (DUPA) and realize I am not a candidate for hair transplants. I have been on Propecia for about 9 months. There have been periods of increased shedding throughout and I am still shedding what seem to be mostly very fine, miniaturized hairs. Do you think this is the Propecia speeding up the hair cycle and pushing out the old fine hairs, or do you think this is an increase in the pace of my genetic balding? I know that your post states that the accelerated hair loss generally stops by the 6th month. Does DUPA have any effect on the timeframe? Also, I have read that Propecia is only effective for about 50% of patients with DUPA. Do you find that to be true, or have you found a different experience? — T.T., White Plains, N.Y.

A: It is hard to tell at 9 months whether it is shedding from the finasteride or that the medication is just not working. Since there is no way to tell, I would stay on the medication for 2 years for any possible shedding from the medication to have passed and to see if your hair loss actually stops.

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Bernstein Medical In The News

NPR Interviews Dr. Bernstein on Hair Transplantation and Hair Loss

Here is one exchange from the interview:

Moderator: How one can tell the difference between hair loss from hormonal imbalances and common baldness?

Dr. Bernstein: Measuring hormone levels alone, although important for medical management, does not necessarily reveal whether the cause of the hair loss is actually hormone related or is genetic. The diagnosis is made by examining the scalp and looking at the hair under close magnification using an instrument called a “Densitometer.”

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Hair Restoration Answers

What is "Shock Fall Out" After a Hair Transplant?

Q: What is “shock fall out”? – D.B., Chappaqua, N.Y.

A: Shedding after a hair transplant is also referred to by the very ominous sounding term “shock fall out.” The correct medical term is “effluvium” which literally means shedding. It is usually the miniaturized hair (i.e. the hair that is at the end of its lifespan due to genetic balding) that is most likely to be shed. Less likely, some healthy hair will be shed, but this should re-grow.

Interestingly, if transplants are spaced less than one year apart, one often notices some shedding of the hair from the first transplant, but this hair grows back completely. For most patients, effluvium is not a major issue and should not be a cause for concern.

Typically, when shedding occurs, a patient looks a little thinner during the several month period following the transplant, before the transplanted hair has started to grow. The thinning is often more noticeable to the patient than to others. Shedding is generally noted as a thinning, rather than of “masses of hair falling out,” as the term “shock fall out” erroneously suggests.

In general, the more miniaturization one has and the more rapid the hair loss, the more likely shedding will be from the hair restoration surgery. Young, actively balding patients would be at the greatest risk. Older patients with stable hair loss would have the least risk. In either situation, since miniaturized hair is eventually going to be lost, the effluvium has no long-term effect on the outcome of the procedure.

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Hair Restoration Answers

In an FUT Hair Transplant, What Percentage of Telogen Phase Follicles in Donor Strip are Wasted?

Q: When a donor strip is taken out during a hair transplant and separated under the microscope, you can read on the internet that there is a wastage of grafts (about 15%), because of those unseen telogen hairs. What do you think about that and how does it affect the hair restoration? — T.B. Baldwin, New York

A: The Telogen phase of the hair cycle is about 3 months long and about 12% of follicles are in this phase at any one time. It is speculated that the follicles may be empty for perhaps 1/2 that time (this number may vary significantly between people). Therefore, approximately 6% of the hair follicles may be in telogen at any one time.

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