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McDonald's French Fries Cure for Hair Loss

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There has been a lot of news recently circulating the web about a new way to help you grow your hair back; eating McDonald’s French fries. This theory is based on the findings of Professor, Junji Fukada of Yokohama University in Japan. Fukada and his team of researchers have studied the form of silicone called “dimethylpolysiloxane” that is used in frying oil at McDonalds to reduce frothing.

Fukada and his team of scientists developed a method for large-scale preparation of hair follicle germs (HFGs), the reproductive source of hair follicles that grow and maintain the hair, in vitro (out of the body). They used self-organization of cells by mixing mouse epidermal (skin) cells and mouse/human mesenchymal (pluripotent connective tissue) cells and seeded them in micro-wells (single-cell cultures). Over the 3-day culture period the cells showed typical HFG features; they first formed a randomly distributed single-cell mass and then they separated from each other. These self-sorted Hair Follicle Germs, known as ssHFGs, were capable of generating shaft and hair-follicles when transplanted under the skin in the backs of nude mice. This finding paved way for the preparation of about 5,000 ssHFGs in a micro-well tool made up of oxygen-permeable silicone. This showed that the oxygen supply through the bottom was needed to enable both the formation of ssHFG and hair shaft generation.

These researchers have been successful in mass-preparing thousands of HFGs which concluded that dimethylpolysiloxane can create the vessels where HTGs could grow, but that this alone cannot stimulate hair growth.

An article in Huffington Post debunks the hair loss treatment circulating the web. Huffington Post’s article “Sorry, McDonald’s French Fries Won’t Actually Cure Your Baldness” stated that ingesting McDonald’s fries or any other of their fried foods “will have no effect whatsoever” on your hair growth.

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Q: What’s your honest take on Nutrafol? It is a product my dermatologist has recommended for my hair loss. — N.S. ~ New York, N.Y.

A: The traditional thinking is that that male pattern alopecia (androgenetic alopecia) is due to follicular sensitivity to DHT causing miniaturization and eventual loss of hair. The premise of Nutrafol is that hair loss is multi-factorial with an important inflammatory component and that it is important to address the inflammation as well as the DHT sensitivity.

This is a relatively new and important concept (I would like to stress this point!). However, the big leap is their conclusion: Since hair loss is multi-factorial, then broad, rather than targeted treatments would be most beneficial, and since naturally occurring “phytochemicals” are broader in action than targeted, FDA approved drugs (like finasteride and minoxidil), they should offer benefit in the treatment of hair loss and Nutrafol is the elixir that can accomplish this.

Although this makes sense in concept, there is no scientific evidence that Nutrafol can actually reverse or/mitigate androgenetic alopecia or any other type of hair loss. We need independent, blinded, controlled studies to show that Nutrafol actually works. Until then, it is very difficult to recommend this product and, more importantly, to recommend it over other treatments known to be effective.

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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 stage (telogen) into the growth stage (anagen) in which they can produce normal hairs. The study, published in the October issue of Science Advances, introduces the possibility of a new topical medication for hair growth stemming from a class of chemicals that block enzymes in the Janus kinase (JAK) family. ((Harel S, Higgins CA, Cerise JE, Dai Z, Chen JC, Clynes R, Christiano AM. Pharmacologic inhibition of JAK-STAT signaling promotes hair growth. Sci Adv. 2015 Oct; 1(9): e1500973.)) The findings on the topical application of JAK inhibitors have implications in the treatment of common hair loss as well as alopecia areata, which causes a non-scarring form of localized hair loss.

Scientists had, until now, tried unsuccessfully to use drugs to induce follicles en masse into the anagen phase. The two FDA-approved medications currently used to treat hair loss each use a different approach. Finasteride (Propecia) blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – the hormone that causes genetically susceptible hair follicles to progressively shrink or miniaturize. Minoxidil (Rogaine) extends the anagen phase, thereby delaying the onset of hair follicle miniaturization. JAK inhibitors could develop into a third major medical option for the treatment of hair loss.

Background: Research Investigating Alopecia Areata

Dr. Christiano, herself diagnosed with alopecia areata, has made several significant breakthroughs involving hair loss and its treatment in the past. Bernstein Medical has written extensively about her study of alopecia areata, hair loss genetics, and hair cloning.

Building on initial research in 1998 implicating a type of white blood cell known as “T lymphocytes” in the development of alopecia areata, ((Gilhar A, Ullmann Y, Berkutzki T, Assy B, Kalish RS. Autoimmune hair loss (alopecia areata) transferred by T lymphocytes to human scalp explants on SCID mice. J Clin Invest. 1998 Jan 1; 101(1):62-7.)) Dr. Christiano and her team set out to find ways to modulate them. In research published in the September 2014 issue of Nature Medicine, they looked at two different FDA-approved chemicals, ruxolitinib and tofacitinib, and how they act as inhibitors of enzymes in the family Janus kinase (JAK). Inhibiting JAK cut off communication to the T cells. Without an accumulation of T cells, alopecia areata could not progress. ((Xing L, Dai Z, Jabbari A, Cerise JE, Higgins CA, Gong W, de Jong A, Harel S, DeStefano GM, Rothman L, Singh P, Petukhova L, Mackay-Wiggan J, Christiano AM, Clynes R. Alopecia areata is driven by cytotoxic T lymphocytes and is reversed by JAK inhibition. Nat Med. 2014 Sep; 20(9):1043-9.)) The JAK inhibitors both prevented the onset of the disease, and reversed the condition where it was already established.

The most surprising finding of this study concerned the effect of topically applying the inhibitors.

“We found that topical ruxolitinib and topical tofacitinib were both highly effective in reversing disease in treated lesions (applied to back skin). A full coat of hair emerged in the ruxolitinib- or tofacitinib-treated mice by 7 weeks of treatment, and we observed complete hair regrowth within 12 weeks following topical therapy.”2

Findings: JAK Inhibitors and Hair Growth in Normal Subjects

Having successfully tested JAK inhibitors against alopecia areata, Dr. Christiano and her team sought to investigate JAK inhibition on normal mice and humans.

The researchers applied solutions of tofacitinib and ruxolitinib to one side of the backs of mice with hair in the telogen phase, while the other side was treated with a control solution. Within seven days of treatment, each mouse saw robust hair growth on the treated side, while the control side did not. This indicates a rapid transition of the hair cycle from telogen (resting) to anagen (growth). Furthermore, they found that treatment with JAK inhibitors resulted in “significant proliferation” of hair follicle stem cells, indicating that the inhibitors activated progenitor stem cells within the follicles. The topical application of JAK inhibitors in mice unmistakably resulted in rapid onset of hair growth.

Next, the team looked at the effects of JAK inhibitors on cultured dermal papilla (DP) spheres. In 2013, Dr. Christiano achieved a breakthrough in using an ingenious technique, called a “hanging drop culture.” Using this process, her team caused dermal papilla cells to clump together in a spherical (tear drop) shaped configuration. They found that DP cells in this three-dimensional mass more easily communicate with one another and are then capable of forming new hair follicles. When cultured in a solution containing the JAK inhibitor, tofacitnib, the DP spheres showed an enhanced ability to induce hair follicle development in larger sizes and in significantly greater numbers.

Conclusion/Summary

Topical application of JAK inhibitors leads to the activation and proliferation of hair follicle stem cells and a rapid transition to the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle. This research could be the catalyst for the development of a new topical treatment for hair loss that could potentially benefit individuals who are not indicated for, or who have not seen a positive response from, traditional hair loss medications or are not candidates for hair transplantation. Additionally, JAK inhibitors may be developed into a topical treatment for alopecia areata and potentially other autoimmune conditions that cause localized hair loss or other skin problems. JAK inhibitors might even aid in the development of hair cloning techniques, which could effectively cure hair loss.

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Could a hormone that plays a critical role in red blood cell production also play a critical role in hair follicle production? According to a 2010 research report published in the Journal of Dermatological Science, this may be the case.

Erythropoietin Implicated In Hair Growth Regulation

The hormone in question is called Erythropoietin (EPO). It is produced in the kidneys in order to regulate red blood cell production. Recent studies have shown that EPO is also produced in a structure that surrounds and protects a hair follicle, the outer root sheath (ORS). Moreover, other studies have found that the EOP secreted by the ORS seems to target dermal papilla (DP) cells. DP cells play a critical role in regulating hair growth.

Because of these results, researchers have speculated that EPO may affect hair growth by acting on DP cells, but no direct evidence for this had ever been found – until now.

Evidence That EPO Affects Hair Growth in Vitro (Cell Cultures)

Strong evidence of EPO’s direct involvement in hair growth would be the discovery of EPO receptor sites (EPOR) on DP cells and a clear mechanism of how EPO affects changes in a DP cell (called cell signaling); this is exactly what researchers in the Republic of Korea ((Kang BM, Shin SH, Kwack MH, Shin H, Oh JW, Kim J, Moon C, Moon C, Kim JC, Kim MK, Sung YK. Erythropoietin promotes hair shaft growth in cultured human hair follicles and modulates hair growth in mice. J Dermatol Sci. 2010 Aug;59(2):86-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2010.04.015. Epub 2010 May 19.)) have found. Not only did they find direct evidence of EPO receptive sites but they also discovered the critical cell signaling mechanism: phosphorylated EPOR signaling pathway mediators.

In addition to discovering the signaling mechanism, they also showed using cell cultures that EPO causes both dermal papilla to proliferate and hair shafts of human hair follicles to elongate.

While the effects of EPO on DP and hair follicles were compelling, they only occurred in vitro (in cell cultures outside the body) and it is known that cells cultured on a flat surface behave significantly differently than cells that exist in situ, inside the organism (see Higgins and Christiano, Regenerative Medicine And Hair Loss: How Hair Follicle Culture Has Advanced Our Understanding Of Treatment Options For Androgenetic Alopecia).

Evidence That EPO Affects Hair Growth In Situ (In The Body)

In order to better answer the questions of whether and how EPO might directly affect hair growth in situ, the Korean researchers implanted EPO treated DP cells into mice and found that these treated cells not only moved hair follicles from their resting (telogen) phase into an active hair growth (anagen) phase but also prolonged a follicle’s active growth phase.

This is a significant finding since one of the mechanisms of male pattern baldness is DHT susceptible hair follicles entering into progressively longer periods of a telogen (resting) phase relative to an anagen (hair growth) phase. EPO, having the opposite effect on hair follicles, opens the door to treating this type of hair loss with existing EPO analogs and/or developing new erythropoietin biopharmaceuticals.

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Q: Does transplanted hair grow faster after robotic FUE? — P.P., Flatiron, NY

A: There is no difference in the rate of growth between manual FUE verses robotic FUE. However, with Robotic FUE, the actual growth should be better due to less transection, i.e., less damage to follicles during the harvest.

In general, one can expect transplanted hair to start to grow within two to five months with the transplanted hair taking on its final appearance after approximately one year.

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Q: Have you any experience with Azelaic Acid as a hair loss treatment — is this something you would recommend using with Rogaine (minoxidil) 2% or 5% solutions? — S.V., Short Hills, N.J.

A: Azeleic acid has no direct benefit in promoting hair growth. Azelaic acid (like retinoic acid) increases the absorption of minoxidil, but also the side effects, so I would especially not recommend it in your case.

Read more about Rogaine (minoxidil)

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Could it be that Vitamin D is the cure for baldness that scientists have been looking for all these years? New research on Vitamin D, and its receptors in hair follicles, has taken us down a previously untrodden path that could, potentially, lead to new medical treatments for hair loss.

The Vitamin D receptor was previously known to stimulate hair follicles, which were in the dormant phase of hair growth, to grow hair when activated. The research into Vitamin D and its effect on hair and skin, centers around this receptor.

One group of researchers — based in San Francisco, California — has discovered that a molecule, called MED, suppresses the Vitamin D receptor, thereby preventing the follicle from growing a new hair. Their research in mice found that blocking the MED molecule allowed mice to grow more hair. A second research team, from Harvard Medical School, has found a molecule that activates the receptor. However, they have been unable to use the molecule to grow new hair.

A third research group, based in Japan, used Vitamin D to stimulate stem cells to become hair-producing follicles in rats. Dr. Kotaro Yoshimura says of the study, “The results suggest that it may be useful in expanding human [dermal papilla cells (DPCs)] with good quality, and help establish a DPC transplantation therapy for growing hair.” His colleague on the study, Dr. Noriyuki Aoi, said, “We found that treating the dermal papilla cells with [Vitamin D] significantly enhanced the growth of new hair over that of the control group. We also observed a better rate of maturation of the follicles. In other words, the hair grew thicker and lasted longer.”

While the third group appears to be the closest to achieving hair growth from a Vitamin D-based treatment, viable treatments in humans are still many years away. As we have indicated in other posts on the Hair Transplant Blog, there is a great deal of ongoing medical research into the causes and treatment of hair loss. The way the field has progressed over the last 5 years it seems to be just a matter of when, not if, a cure for baldness is available to the public.

Read more about ongoing medical research on the causes of and treatments for hair loss

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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. ((McElwee KJ, Kissling S, Wenzel E, Huth A, Hoffmann R (2003) Cultured peribulbar dermal sheath cells can induce hair follicle development and contribute to the dermal sheath and dermal papilla. J Invest Dermatol 121: 1267–1275.)) 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.

In their 2003 study, “Cultured Peribulbar Dermal Sheath Cells Can Induce Hair Follicle Development and Contribute to the Dermal Sheath and Dermal Papilla,” the scientists found that the dermal sheath cup cells are the “reservoir” of stem cells that control both the hair growth cycle of a follicle and formation of new hair follicles.

These breakthrough findings led to RepliCel’s seeking patents for their proprietary process of isolating and preparing dermal sheath cup cells for the treatment of hair loss. Patents have been issued in Europe and Australia, and are currently pending in the US, Canada, and Japan.

In 2012, RepliCel is studying the safety and efficacy of hair regeneration from autologous dermal sheath cup cells. In the study, cells will be harvested from patients, replicated in a laboratory, and then injected into a balding area to determine if the treatment will stimulate the growth of new hair follicles in what was a bald area.

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Miniaturized human hair follicle shows concentration of Prostaglandin D2 (in green). Credit: Garza and Cotsarelis/Penn Medicine)
Miniaturized human hair follicle shows concentration of Prostaglandin D2 (in green). Credit: Garza and Cotsarelis/Penn Medicine)

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who were investigating the biological causes of androgenetic alopecia or common genetic hair loss, have discovered that levels of a certain inhibitor protein, called Prostaglandin D2 (PD2), are elevated in bald areas on the scalp. This discovery could be an important breakthrough in developing a medical hair loss treatment that regulates the production of the protein, or one that blocks it from attaching to its receptor protein.

Prostaglandins are a family of proteins that have a wide range of functions, including controlling cell growth and constricting and dilating muscle tissue. According to an article in ScienceDaily, the researchers had previously found evidence that something was inhibiting hair growth, but they did not expect to find prostaglandins involved in the miniaturization of hair follicles:

“Our findings were unexpected, as prostaglandins haven’t been thought about in relation to hair loss, yet it made sense that there was an inhibitor of hair growth, based on our earlier work looking at hair follicle stem cells,” said George Cotsarelis, MD, chair and professor of Dermatology, and senior author on the studies.

In men with androgenetic alopecia, Prostaglandin D2 was found to be three times higher in bald scalp tissue versus areas of the scalp with hair. Additionally, when hair follicles in a laboratory culture were treated with PD2, the hairs were significantly shorter than non-treated ones. A derivative of PD2, called 15-dPGJ2, was found to completely inhibit hair growth.

The receptor protein that is active with both prostaglandins, called GPR44, may hold the key to limiting the effects of PD2 and, therefore, in regulating hair loss in both men and women. While the study looked only at men, the GPR44 receptor protein exists in women as well. So, theoretically, a topical hair loss treatment may be developed that would prevent or limit thinning or hair loss in both sexes.

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Summary of “Hair Regrowth Following a Wnt- and Follistatin-Containing Treatment: Safety and Efficacy in a First-in-man Phase 1 Clinical Trial,” which was originally published in the November 2011 issue of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (Volume 10, Issue 11). ((Zimber MP, et al. Hair regrowth following a Wnt- and follistatin containing treatment: safety and efficacy in a first-in-man phase 1 clinical trial. J Drugs Dermatol. 2011 Nov;10(11):1308-12.))

Researchers were aware of the importance of follistatin, a binding protein; Wnt 7a, a signaling protein; and wound healing factors on hair growth. In this study, researchers tested the safety and efficacy of an injection of a mixture of naturally derived molecules on hair growth.

The mixture called the Hair Stimulating Complex (HSC), contained follistatin, as well as keratinocyte growth factor (KGF), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The mixture also showed activity similar to the Wnt signaling protein.

The 26 subjects, each suffering from androgenetic alopecia or common baldness, were given an injection of the mixture. The researchers found that there were no adverse events upon injection. Biopsies taken at 22 and 52 weeks showed no abnormal morphology at the injection site.

The sites were also studied at 12 weeks and 52 weeks to determine the effects of the HSC injection in a bald area on the scalp. At 12 weeks after the injection, hair shafts had increased in thickness by 6.3% and terminal hair density increased 20.6%. At 52 weeks, there was a statistically significant increase in total hair count.

Results of the study suggest that injection of the HSC mixture improved hair growth in people with androgenetic alopecia and that previous research with Wnts, follistatin, and growth factors associated with wound healing and regeneration has been substantiated.

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Q: I am interested in trying home laser therapy for my androgenic alopecia? Which handheld laser device do you recommend? — N.M., Northfield, NJ

A: There are several handheld lasers currently marketed as a home use treatments for androgenic alopecia. To my knowledge there has never been a clinical study comparing different laser devices. Most of the devices use diodes to emit a narrow band red light. This wavelength of light is actually similar to those that are used in hair removal lasers, except they are at a much lower intensity. The theory is that high intensity laser damage hair follicles causing hair loss, but low level laser energy can have a bio-stimulation effect and actually induce hair growth.

If you would like to try laser therapy for hair loss, I suggest using a HairMax laser comb. This is the only device that is FDA approved. They sell a few different “strengths” of lasers for different costs. They have not shown any clinical evidence supporting one laser comb versus another. The more expensive ones have more diode lights so it would be reasonable to conclude that they are “stronger” and require less frequent use. I have patients who have used the “mid tier” laser comb, the Premium Lux 9 successfully, so that is the one I recommend to other patients.

Read more about Laser Therapy.

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In what might be another illuminating discovery on the inner-workings of hair growth, Yale University scientists have discovered that cells from the fat layer in the skin of mice contribute to the stimulation of hair follicles.

An article by ABC News quotes the lead researcher, Valerie Horsley, saying, “The fat cells are important for hair growth. If they’re not there, the hair won’t grow. We don’t know for sure if it’s a cure for baldness, but I’m hopeful that we can get human cells to do the same as the mice cells.”

Dr. Bernstein, who was interviewed for the article, called the findings, “an interesting development in understanding why millions of people go bald.”

“It’s an important step. Mice models are not necessarily applicable to humans, but this is how we start to make discoveries,” he said.

Bernstein noted that the study’s findings don’t [directly] address genetic hair loss, in which a hormone called DHT causes hair follicles to shrink.

Dr. Horsley suggested that the next round of research should focus on finding out what cells are being effected by the fat cells, and why. She said, ”It’s very exciting because we really knew nothing about the fat in the skin. I’m hoping we can extend the research.”

Read more about research into the causes and mechanisms around hair loss in posts assigned to the tag “Stem Cells.”

Read the original article at ABCNews.com

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Following some new research on stem cells, and their relationship with androgenetic alopecia (genetic hair loss), an article on stem cells and the way they organize hair growth was published in the April 29th issue of the journal Science.

At issue is not the conversion of hair follicle stem cells into the progenitor cells that stimulate hair growth, as with the prior research, but the ways in which large numbers of stem cells coordinate the cycle of hair growth over thousands of hair follicles. How do all of those hair follicle stem cells know when to grow hair, and how do they know what their “neighbor” hair follicles are doing?

The researchers studied hair growth patterns in rabbits and mice and discovered that certain types of molecules, which were previously known to act as a signaling mechanism for stem cells in maintaining an individual hair follicle’s growth cycle, were also important in enabling large groups of stem cells to coordinate their activity.

The scientists found that hair stem cells coordinate their regeneration with each other with the aid of a pair of molecular activator WNT and inhibitor BMP. When WNT and BMP signals are used repetitively among a population of thousands of hair follicles across the entire skin surface, complex regenerative hair growth behavior emerges via the process of self-organization.

Perhaps more importantly, they found that the stem cell communication pathway present in rabbits and mice is far more robust than in men and women.

“When each human hair follicle wants to regenerate, it can only count on itself; it’s not getting help from other follicles,” Chuong said. “But when a rabbit hair follicle regenerates, it can count on two inputs: its own activation, and the activation signal from its neighbors. Rabbits have a very active hair growth, and that is essential for their survival in the wild.”

The article suggests that if there was a way to manage that process in humans, or “turn back on” the stem cell communication process in human hair follicles, then a treatment could be developed which would substantially increase the number of hair follicles that produce healthy hair.

Read a summary of this new research at ScienceDaily.com.

For more discussion on recent research, visit the Hair Cloning topic.

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Robert M. Bernstein, M.D., F.A.A.D., Renowned Hair Transplant Surgeon and Founder of Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration in New York, is Studying Four Applications of ACell MatriStem™ Extracellular Matrix in a Type of Hair Cloning, Called Hair Multiplication, as well as in Current Hair Restoration Procedures.

New York, NY (PRWEB) March 15, 2011 – Robert M. Bernstein, M.D., F.A.A.D., Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Columbia University in New York and founder of Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration, has been granted approval by the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) to study four different applications of the ACell MatriStem extracellular matrix (ECM) in hair restoration.

Hair Cloning with ACell MatriStemHair Cloningwith ACell MatriStem

Two of the studies include its use in a type of hair cloning, called hair multiplication, where plucked hairs and transected follicular units are induced to generate new hair-producing follicles. The other two areas of study include evaluating the use of the ECM in current hair transplant procedures to enhance hair growth and facilitate wound healing.

Approval by the WIRB allows the researchers to conduct double-blinded, bilateral controlled studies. Controlled studies are the best way to increase the objectivity of the research and insure the validity of the results.

“The medical research we are performing is important because it may lead to hair multiplication as a way to increase a person’s supply of donor hair. In this way, patients would no longer be limited in the amount of hair which can be used in a hair restoration procedure,” said Dr. Bernstein. “Additionally, in the near-term, the extracellular matrix may be able to improve the cosmetic benefit of current hair transplant procedures. We are simultaneously pushing the boundaries of hair cloning methods and follicular unit transplantation.”

Hair multiplication, a variation of what is popularly known as hair cloning, is a procedure where partial hair follicles are stimulated to form whole follicles. These parts can either be from hairs derived from plucking or from follicles which have been purposely cut into sections. Generally, damaged follicular units will stop growing hairs. However, there is anecdotal evidence that an extracellular matrix applied to partial follicles may stimulate whole follicles to grow and, when applied to wounds, may stimulate the body’s cells to heal the damaged tissue.

This new medical research also attempts to show that ACell can improve the healing of wounds created when follicular units are harvested for hair transplant surgery. Currently, in follicular unit hair transplant procedures, a linear scar results when a surgeon incises the patient’s scalp to harvest follicular units. Occasionally, this scar can be stretched, resulting in a less-than favorable cosmetic result. If ECM can induce the wound to heal more completely, the linear scar may be improved. The extracellular matrix may also benefit general hair growth in hair transplantation in that the sites where hair is transplanted, called recipient sites, can be primed with ECM to encourage healthy growth of the hair follicle.

Dr. Bernstein is known world-wide for pioneering the hair restoration procedures of follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE). Follicular units are the naturally-occurring groups of one to four hair follicles which make up scalp hair. These tiny structures are the components which are transplanted in follicular unit hair transplants.

While hair cloning has been of great interest to hair restoration physicians and sufferers of common genetic hair loss, the method by which this can be achieved has yet to be determined. The use of ACell’s extracellular matrix to generate follicles is a promising development in achieving this elusive goal. In addition to the longer term implications of using ECM in hair multiplication, its impact on hair restoration will be more immediate if it can be proven effective when used in current FUT procedures.

About Dr. Robert M. Bernstein:

Dr. Bernstein is a certified dermatologist and pioneer in the field of hair transplant surgery. His landmark medical publications have revolutionized hair transplantation and provide the foundation for techniques used by hair transplant surgeons across five continents. He is respected for his honest and ethical assessment of a patient’s treatment options, exceptional surgical skills, and keen aesthetic sense in hair transplantation. In addition to his many medical publications, Dr. Bernstein has appeared as a hair loss or hair transplantation expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Discovery Channel, CBS News, Fox News, and National Public Radio; and he has been interviewed for articles in GQ Magazine, Men’s Health, Vogue, the New York Times, and others.

About Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration:

Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration is a state-of-the-art hair restoration facility and international referral center, located in midtown Manhattan, New York City. The center is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of hair loss in men and women. Hair transplant surgery, hair repair surgery, and eyebrow transplant surgery are performed using the follicular unit transplant (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE) surgical hair restoration techniques.

Contact Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration:

If you are a journalist and would like to discuss this press release, please email us or call us today (212-826-2400) to schedule an appointment to speak with Dr. Bernstein.

View the press release at PRWeb.

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After trading anecdotes with fellow hair loss physicians about how finasteride can reduce body hair in some patients, Sharon A. Keene, M.D. took the next logical step and asked whether finasteride might have a negative effect on patients who have body hair transplant (BHT) procedures.

In a review of scientific literature on whether finasteride effects body hair growth, Dr. Keene finds that current research is inconclusive.

Finasteride, the drug in the hair loss medication Propecia, works by blocking the 5-alpha-reductase type 2 enzyme (5-AR Type 2) which is needed by the body to covert testosterone to DHT. DHT causes common baldness, by making hair follicles shrink and eventually die.

In looking at DHT’s effect on body hair growth, current research strongly suggests that it does play a key role. Males born with a deficiency of 5-AR Type 2, and thus no DHT, have reduced, or absent, body hair growth (and no loss of scalp hair).

It would seem logical then, that when finasteride is used to re-grow hair on the scalp, it would also inhibit the growth of hair on the body. However, the genetic variation among people is too great to determine exactly how much of an influence it plays.

With this uncertainty of DHT’s effects on body hair, it is impossible to say, without further study, if finasteride would have the same effect on body hairs which are transplanted to the scalp. In Dr. Keene’s conclusion, she suggests:

A patient on finasteride for at least a year who undergoes BHT is probably safe to continue it, as remaining body hairs are apparently not sensitive to the effects of this drug.

You can read the full discussion and review of current research in the January/February 2011 issue of Hair Transplant Forum International, the official newsletter of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS).

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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.

For continued discussion of this topic, visit our page on hair growth and the growth cycle. Or read posts in the topic of Growth after a Hair Transplant.

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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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Q: I am currently 28. I have been taking Propecia for 6 years and recently began to grow sparse chest hair for the first time in my life. Is the Propecia causing these effects? — H.L., Gowanus, Brooklyn, NY

A: DHT causes male pattern baldness and stimulates the growth of body hair. The use of Finasteride, a DHT blocker, will permit scalp hair to grown and inhibit the growth of body hair, not stimulate it.

However, the effects on body hair are quite small, so your natural tendency to grow chest hair over time is probably not being blocked by the treatment.

Read more about propecia and the effects and effectiveness of the medication.

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Dr. Angela Christiano of Columbia University in New York and a team of scientific researchers have identified a new gene involved in hair growth. Their discovery may affect the direction of future research for hair loss and the diagnosis and ultimate prevention of male pattern baldness.

The condition which leads to thinning hair is called hereditary hypotrichosis simplex. Through the study of families in Pakistan and Italy who suffer from this condition, the team was able to identify a mutation of the APCDD1 gene located in chromosome 18. This chromosome has been linked to other causes of hair loss.

According to Dr. Christiano, “The identification of this gene underlying hereditary hypotrichosis simplex has afforded us an opportunity to gain insight into the process of hair follicle miniaturization, which is most commonly observed in male pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia.”

The mutation of the APCDD1 gene inhibits the Wnt signaling pathway. Although this recently discovered gene does not explain the complex process of male pattern baldness, the importance of this discovery lies in the Wnt signaling that the gene directs, has now been shown to control hair growth in humans, as well as in mice.

Reference: Nature 464, 1043-1047 (15 April 2010) | doi:10.1038/nature08875;

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Bizymoms.com, the premier work-at-home community on the Internet with more than 5 million visitors per year, has interviewed Dr. Robert M. Bernstein in order to answer readers’ common questions about hair restoration and hair loss.

Below is a sample of the interview:

Q: Who would be a good candidate for hair transplant surgery?

In general, men and women age 30 and older can be candidates, but there are a host of factors that determine if a person is a good candidate…

Q: How does hair transplantation work?

Hair removed from the permanent zone in the back and sides of the scalp continues to grow when transplanted to the balding area in the front or top of one’s head…

Q: What can be done for people dissatisfied with previous mini/micrograft procedures?

If the grafts are too large they can be removed, divided into smaller units under a microscope, and re-implanted back into the scalp (the same day)…

Q: What are the possible harmful effects of Propecia and Rogaine?

The main side effect of Propecia (finasteride 1%) is sexual dysfunction, which occurs in about 2-4% of men taking the drug. Fortunately, these side effects are completely reversible when the medication is stopped. […] The main side effect of Rogaine (minoxidil) is scalp irritation. […] Both Propecia and Minoxidil can produce some hair shedding at the beginning of treatment, but this means that the medications are working…

Q: How many grafts/hairs are needed for hair transplant surgery?

An eyebrow restoration can require as few as 200 grafts, a hairline 800 and a scalp, with significant hair loss, 2,500 or more grafts. An equally important consideration is the donor supply…

Q: What are the advanced hair transplant techniques?

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), where hair is transplanted exclusively in naturally occurring follicular units, is the state-of-the art. […] A more recent means of obtaining the donor hair, the follicular units are extracted individually from the back of the scalp. This procedure, called Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) eliminates the need for a line-scar, but is a less efficient procedure for obtaining grafts…

Q: What are the new hair restoration treatments available for men and women?

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) utilizes cool lasers to stimulate hair growth and reduce shedding of hair. […] Latisse (Bimatoprost) is an FDA approved topical medication for eyelash growth.

Go to Bizymoms.com to read the full interview.

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Q: I know that Propecia works in only about half of patients. Are younger people more likely to be helped by this medication? — V.C. Greenpoint, Brooklyn

A: The main studies by Merck looked at men between the ages of 18 and 41. The five year data (which, in my view, is most important) showed that 48% of men had an increase in hair growth and 42% had no change over baseline. Thus a full 90% held on to their hair or had more over a 5-year period. This compares very favorably to the placebo group where 75% lost hair over the 5-year period.

I think the most interesting question relates to the 10% who continued to lose hair in the treated group. Did these men lose hair at a slower rate than the non-treated group? Based on the action of finasteride on blocking DHT and DHT’s central role in causing male pattern hair loss, it is reasonable to assume that even these “non-responders” did have some benefit from the drug, albeit small. If half of those on the medication who continued to lose hair did so at a rate slower than the placebo group, then 95% of patients actually benefited from the medication to some degree – an extraordinarily high success rate, in my opinion.

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Q: I just read a press release saying that researchers have developed a successful technique to clone hair by using a wound healing powder. To paraphrase, the press release says:

MatriStem MicroMatrix, a product of regenerative medicine, ACell, Inc., is a wound healing powder that promotes healing and tissue growth and has now proven to help regenerate hair in the donor and recipient regions of hair transplant patients. While intended to heal ulcers and burns, Gary Hitzig, M.D. and Jerry Cooley, M.D., have found that its properties offer a broader scope of treatment, including hair cloning. “We’ve made amazing breakthroughs using MatriStem as a hair cloning tool,” said Dr. Hitzig. “We’ve been able to multiply the number of hair follicles growing in the recipient area, and as an added benefit are seeing faster hair growth. This new hair cloning technique also makes hair transplantation surgery less invasive.”

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.

For more on the topic, visit our Hair Cloning section, our page on ACell extracellular matrix devices, and answers to questions on Hair Cloning.

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Japanese scientists have located a gene that seems to regulate hair loss in mice. They feel that this gene may also play a role in hair loss in humans. The results of the studies were recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers produced a strain of mice lacking in the Sox21 gene. As a result, the mice began to lose hair starting eleven days after birth. By the forth week, the mice were entirely devoid of hair. What was most interesting was that during the fourth week hair started to re-grow, but then eventually fell out starting the cycle again. These cycles were noted to repeat for as long as two years.

The scientific team is headed by Yumiko Saga of the Division of Mammalian Development at the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan. He stated that “The gene is likely involved with the differentiation of stem cells that form the outer layer of the hair shaft.”

The same Sox21 gene causing this cyclical hair loss in mice was also found in human hair shafts, so it is hypothesized that his gene might possibly be related to baldness in humans.

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New York Times - Hair TransplantThe New York Times interviewed Dr. Bernstein for a full-length article on hair loss and hair transplant options for women interested in hair restoration. The article – titled, “Tricks and Transplants for Women’s Hair Loss” – covered modern hair transplantation techniques, hair transplant costs, camouflage techniques, and more.

Read below for some excerpts of the article:

Exploring Your Options:

Hairstylists, impressed with how realistic the “new” transplanted hair looks, recommend doctors to clients who are tired of hiding their hair loss with layers or high- and lowlights. “I’ve seen bad jobs,” said Seiji Kitazato, the creative director at Frédéric Fekkai on Fifth Avenue, who refers clients to a few surgeons. “But now you can’t even tell.”

Still, not every woman of the millions who suffer from hair loss is a candidate. Underlying conditions, including anemia and thyroid problems, that are temporary, treatable or affect the scalp rather than the hair, must be dealt with before a transplant can be considered. If a transplant is ruled out, sufferers must rely on wigs, hairpieces or styling tricks.

What’s more, “most medications can cause hair loss, some more frequently than others,” said Dr. Robert M. Bernstein, a clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University who has a restoration center in Manhattan.

A transplant is an option only for a woman who has a thick enough area of hair from the back and sides to “donate” to a more paltry part of her scalp. But many women don’t experience this kind of localized balding; instead their entire head of hair thins out during menopause or as they age.

Buyer Beware:

So the incentive to treat any and all comers is high. “It’s a big problem,” Dr. Bernstein said. “You shouldn’t go to someone who will give a transplant to anyone who walks in the door.” If your condition is not properly assessed, you could permanently shed more hair after surgery than you gained, he warned, or if the hair transplanted wasn’t stable, “it would disappear.”

Before Hair Transplant Surgery:

If you’re suffering hair loss, see a dermatologist first, not hair transplant surgeons, said Dr. Robert M. Bernstein, a dermatologist in Manhattan who specializes in hair restoration. After determining a cause, dermatologists can offer advice about options from the medical to the surgical. Many women with hair loss try Women’s Rogaine, a solution with 2 percent minoxidil that is applied to the scalp, twice daily. Others prefer Rogaine’s foam for men, because it has 5 percent minodixil, dries quickly and feels less greasy. (But even the women’s formulation warns to discontinue use if facial-hair growth occurs.)

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It has long been thought that the genes for common baldness come from the mother side of the family – explaining why a male whose maternal grandfather is bald is more likely to lose his hair than if his own father were bald. This observation was recently supported by the discovery of the androgen receptor (AR) gene which resides on the X-chromosome.

Remember, there are two sex chromosomes; X and Y. Females have two X chromosomes (XX), while males have one X and one Y chromosome (XY). This means that a male must get his X chromosome from the mother.

But we all have seen that some bald sons have bald fathers, even when no one on the mother’s side of the family has any hair loss. This suggests that the genetics of male pattern alopecia is more complicated, with multiple genes influencing hair growth. And it is likely that the inheritance of baldness is polygenetic, with relevant genes coming from both the x-chromosome of the mother and non-sex chromosomes of either parent. So where are the other genes?

Two independent research groups, one from England and the other Germany, both published in the journal Nature Genetics, have identified a gene locus p11 on chromosome 20 that seems to be correlated with male pattern hair loss, and since the gene is on a non-sex chromosome, it offers an explanation for why the inheritance of common baldness can be from either side of the family. It is important to emphasize that like the AR gene, the chromosome 20p11 locus has only been shown to correlate with hair loss. It is not been shown that either of these genes actually cause baldness.

Unlike many genes whose expression is one or the other (i.e. blue eyes or brown), the 20p11 variations tend to be additive; therefore, men with one affected copy will have a 3.7 fold increase in the chance of having early hair loss and those with two copies a 6.1 fold increase. Men with both the chromosome 20p11 variation and the AR gene will have a seven-fold increase of developing male pattern hair loss at an early age. This gene combination occurs in about 15% of Caucasian men.

The mainstay of predicting future hair loss is with a Densitometer – an instrument used by physicians to measure changes in hair shaft diameter (miniaturization). According to Dr. Robert Bernstein, “Looking at hair shafts under a microscope can spot shrinkage years before it is apparent – we can pick it up when kid are still teenagers.” Early diagnosis is important in androgenetic alopeica because medication is useful only if the hair loss is not too advanced. The genetic studies are significant in that they supply the physician with one more piece of information when developing a master plan for treating a person’s hair loss. See the article in the Wall Street Journal titled, Hair Apparent? New Science on the Genetics of Balding.

While researchers consider these latest discoveries to be of significant merit, caution must be made since these genes are felt to be associated with hair loss, but not yet shown to be causative. More importantly, the associations are not absolute. A clinical evaluation is still the most reliable indicator of future hair loss. Finally, the ability to identify associated genes does not suggest that a “cure” for male pattern baldness is imminent.

Reference
“On the Genetics of Balding,” Wall Street Journal, Vol. 4 – October 1, 2008.

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Columbia University Medical CenterColumbia University Medical Center has awarded Dr. Bernstein, Clinical Professor of Dermatology, a “Certificate of Appreciation” for sustained contributions to the academic programs of the Department of Dermatology, Columbia University. Please read below for the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration press release and a transcript of an interview with Dr. Bernstein on receiving the honor:

Press Release:

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 2, 2008 — Columbia University Medical Center awarded their Certificate of Appreciation to Robert M. Bernstein, MD, founder of Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration for his sustained contributions to the academic programs of the Department of Dermatology at Columbia University.

Dr. Bernstein specializes in hair loss and hair transplant surgery. He was instrumental in developing the Follicular Unit Hair Transplant procedure, now considered the most advanced technique for surgical hair restoration. This procedure has revolutionized modern hair transplantation, with its unique ability to mimic natural hair growth patterns in the scalp.

In the past, multiple, small procedures were an inefficient way to restore a person’s hair. Using these new techniques, we now have the ability to transplant 3000 or more follicular units safely in one session.

“With respect to medical feasibility, follicular hair transplant surgery is significantly different from traditional grafting,” notes Dr. Bernstein. “In the past, multiple, small procedures were an inefficient way to restore a person’s hair. Using these new techniques, we now have the ability to transplant 3000 or more follicular units safely in one session.”

The complex nature and microscopic scale of the Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation procedure require superior surgical precision. Dr. Bernstein is well known for his surgical skill and talent; he has been named in New York Magazine’s “Best Doctors” list 9 years in a row.

In addition to his world-renowned skill in the field of hair replacement surgery, Dr. Bernstein is also acclaimed for the care that he provides for his patients. Dr. Bernstein and the rest of the staff at the Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Restoration aim to provide their patients with the best possible care and comfort during their hair transplant procedure. Their award winning website www.bernsteinmedical.com is recognized for providing outstanding health information.

Columbia University is one of the world’s most important centers of medical research and distinguished learning environment for undergraduates and graduate students in many scholarly and professional fields. The University recognizes the importance of its location in New York City and seeks to link its research and teaching to the vast resources of a great metropolis. It seeks to attract a diverse and international faculty and student body, to support research and teaching on global issues, and to create academic relationships with many countries. It expects all areas of the university to advance knowledge and learning at the highest level and to convey the products of its efforts to the world.

About Dr. Bernstein:

Dr. Bernstein is the most widely published author on the subject of Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation, with over fifty articles, editorial reviews, books and textbook chapters. His landmark scientific papers are considered to be seminal works in the field of hair transplant surgery. In addition to a busy surgical practice, Robert M. Bernstein, MD, is Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Columbia University in New York. He lectures both nationally and internationally on the diagnosis and treatment of hair loss and treats patients from all over the globe at his state-of-the-art surgical facility in mid-town Manhattan.

Interview:

Interviewer: I am here today with Dr. Robert M. Bernstein, founder of the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration. Dr. Bernstein is the recipient of the “Platinum Follicle Award” the highest honor given by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. He has been chosen as one of New York Magazine’s “Best Doctors in New York” for nine consecutive years. Good morning Dr. Bernstein.

Dr. Bernstein: Good morning.

Interviewer: Dr. Bernstein, I understand you have recently been awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from Columbia University in New York.

Dr. Bernstein: Yes, I have been teaching at Columbia for 25 years. I was very honored to receive it.

Interviewer: Could you tell us about it?

Dr. Bernstein: The certificate is for the contributions that I have made to the academic programs of the Department of Dermatology.

Interviewer: You specialize in hair replacement and hair transplant surgery, and you were instrumental in developing the Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation procedure. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about this procedure and how you came up with the idea?

Dr. Bernstein: Sure. The Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation procedure is based on the discovery that in humans, hair does not grow singly as one commonly thinks, but rather, in tiny bundles of one to four hairs. We call these bundles follicular units. While evaluating patients for surgery using an instrument called a densitometer we could easily visualize these naturally occurring groups. It just made sense to perform the entire transplant using these tiny follicular units, as it would allow us to most closely mimic nature. We found that it also would enable us to safely transplant thousands of grafts in a single session and, for the patient, to complete the hair restoration as quickly as possible.

Interviewer: Interesting. I understand you not only use your knowledge in practice, but you are the most widely published author on this subject.

Dr. Bernstein: It is through publishing in medical and scientific journals that we can best share our ideas with our colleagues and ultimately improve patient care.

Interviewer: Is there a website where listeners can find these papers and learn more about the procedure and other information about hair loss?

Dr. Bernstein: Yes. If they go to the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website they will find links to all of my medical publications. The site has my blog and a lot of other useful information for persons who are experiencing hair loss.

Interviewer: Well, again congratulations, it was good to have you on the program.

Dr. Bernstein: Thank you.

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Jing Gao, Mindy C. DeRouen, Chih-Hsin Chen, Michael Nguyen, et. al.
Genes & Development 22:2111-2124, 2008

The growth of a hair follicle from its developmental cell stage to a hair bearing follicle is through an interactive process between epidermal cells and those of the dermal papilla. It was found that Laminin-511 is instrumental in facilitating this process.

It has been felt that the extra-cellular protein Laminin is critical to both adhesion and the signaling process in hair development; however, the mechanism is not fully understood.

Through this study, it was shown that the signaling pathways introduced by the administration of noggin and sonic hedgehog alone were insufficient to develop a hair follicle. When Laminin-511 protein was introduced to the tissue culture, the dermal papilla developed. When the protein was inhibited, hair follicle growth again ceased. This information supports prior studies suggesting that Laminin is critical in the early stages of follicle cell development and is required for continued follicle development and growth.

This study reaffirms in vitro and in vivo studies in mice, the importance of Laminin-511 in the formation of dermal papilla to promote the development of more organized dermal papilla cells and the hair follicle development. It also suggests that there is a reciprocal mechanism between the signaling pathways of noggin and sonic hedgehog with Laminin-511.

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by Jeff Teumer, PhD
Hair Transplant International Forum, Volume 18, Number 3, May/June 2008

Follicular cell implantation (FCI) is based on the ability of the dermal papilla (DP) cells, found at the bottom of hair follicles, to stimulate new hairs to form. DP cells can be grown and multiplied in a culture so that a very small number of cells can produce enough follicles to cover an entire bald scalp.

In order to produce new follicles, two types of cells must be present. The first is Keratinocytes, the major cell type in the hair follicle, and the second are dermal papillae cells (DP) which lie in the upper part of the dermis, just below the hair follicle. It appears that the DP cells can induce the overlying keratinocytes to form hair follicles. There are a number of proposed techniques for hair regeneration that use combinations of cells that are implanted in the skin. The two major techniques involve either transplanting dermal papillae cells by themselves into the skin or implanting them with keratinocytes. These techniques can be used with or without an associated matrix used to help orient the newly forming follicles.

Implanting Dermal Papillae Cells Alone

  1. Implanting DP cells by themselves into the dermis, with the hope that they will cause the overlying skin cells (keratinocytes) to be transformed from normal skin cells into hair follicles. This method is called “follicular neo-genesis” since new hair is formed where none previously existed.
  2. Cells of the dermal papillae are placed alongside miniaturized follicles. The transplanted cells would induce the keratinocytes of the miniaturized follicles to grow into a terminal hair. A potential advantage of this technique is that the existing miniaturized follicles already have the proper structure and orientation to produce a natural look growth.

Implanting Dermal Papillae with Keratinocytes

  1. A mixed suspension of cultured keratinocytes and DP cells are implanted into the skin.
  2. Keratinocytes and DP cells are cultured together such that full or partial hair formation takes place in a culture dish. These culture-grown hairs, or “proto-hairs,” are then implanted into the patient. The advantage of using a proto-hair is that there would be better control over the direction of hair growth because of the structural orientation of the proto-hair.

Cell Implantation using a Matrix

  1. A variation of the above techniques is to use a matrix to help orient the implanted cells. This could be either an artificial matrix composed of materials such Dacron or it could be a biological matrix composed of collagen or other tissue components. The matrix would act like a scaffold to help cells organize to form a follicle. If the matrix were filamentous (like a hair) it could help direct the growth of the growing follicle. A matrix could be used with dermal papillae cells alone or in combination with cultured keratinocytes.

With all of the varied approaches for FCI, the aim is to combine keratinocytes and DP cells to efficiently and reproducibly generate thousands of follicles for hair restoration. In some cases, cells are combined in vivo and all of the hair formation must take place in the body after implantation, while in others, some hair formation takes place in culture before implantation.

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NY Japion - Dr. Robert M. Bernstein

NY Japion — a weekly newspaper in the Japanese language, published in the New York tri-state area, and distributed for free in the Japanese community — has featured Robert M. Bernstein, MD, in their series on hair loss in men and women. In the series, TV producer, Hideo Nakamura, who is bald himself, goes on a mission on behalf of fellow bald men. His column hopes to help others with hair loss to have a more fulfilled, fun life and to raise their self-esteem.

Nakamura interviewed Dr. Bernstein for this weekly series that began in October 2006. In issues No. 1 and 2, Dr. Bernstein explained the basic mechanism of balding for both men and women which are quite different in its causes, balding types, and progression of hair loss. The NY Japion’s readers were all very surprised by the fact that balding for men is actually related to genes on both the mother’s side as well as the father’s side of the family. Dr. Bernstein also shared his unique theory of why Japan’s Samurai had the uniformed bald look.

The column discussed post-op care after hair restoration surgery and explained the drug Propecia, a men’s oral hair growth treatment, minoxidil and some cosmetic hair products.

Reporter Nakamura was also examined by Dr. Bernstein and with the patient’s permission was allowed to observe a hair transplant surgery. Issues No. 3, 4, 5 are about the surgical hair restoration procedure known as Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation (FUT), a method that Dr. Bernstein helped to pioneer. By using the patient’s own hair, FUT can give totally natural looking results. The patient’s own hair starts growing where there was no hair before.

You can download a PDF version of the original series (in Japanese) at the link below:


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Q I had a hair transplant 15 months ago at a well known clinic in Manhattan. There were about 1000 grafts transplanted in the front hair line. At this point I am upset with my results. My guess is that only about 50 new hairs have grown. My question is what would cause this to happen? It seems to me that the hair transplant took longer than expected and my grafts died before they were placed! Please help! — B.E., Ithaca, N.Y.

A There are many factors that can contribute to poor growth during the hair restoration process including grafts that are left out of the holding solution too long or kept under the microscope for a prolonged period of time where they dry out.

Grafts can be injured in the dissection process or can be traumatized during the placing – if they are grasped too tightly or manipulated too much.

If properly hydrated, grafts can survive outside the body for many hours, so this in itself is generally not a problem.

There is no way to really tell what the exact problem(s) may be without watching the entire hair restoration procedure, since so many steps are involved that can affect the survival of the grafts. All of these steps must be carefully controlled to insure optimal growth.

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Edwin S. Epstein, M.D.
Stuart Medical Group, Richmond, VA, USA.

SUMMARY of Dr. Epstein’s Abstract from his presentation at the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, 2005 – Sydney, Australia

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is known to be the more potent androgen in both Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and in Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA). Testosterone is converted to DHT by the enzyme 5-α reductase in several organs including the prostate, hair follicles, skin, liver and sebaceous glands. 5-α reductase exists in two isoforms: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 is the predominant enzyme in prostate and hair follicles. Finasteride, approved in 1992, inhibits the type 2 isoenzyme and is available in two doses: 1mg dose for AGA, and 5mg for BPH. Dutasteride, approved in January 2003 to treat BPH, is a dual inhibitor of both isoenzymes.

In current the study, men ages 21-45 received dutasteride (0.01mg, 0.1mg, 0.5mg, 2.5mg), finasteride 5mg, or placebo.

Results showed the following:

• Dutasteride seemed to have an earlier onset of effect than Finasteride
• Dutasteride 2.5mg appeared to be significantly more effective than Dutasteride 0.5mg.
• The effects of Dutasteride 0.5mg were comparable to Finasteride 5mg.

The side effect profile was difficult to interpret. All of the data is presented in such limited terms that make any interpretation difficult.

Dutasteride appears to work faster than finasteride in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia and clearly is more effective in lowering DHT levels. Because there is no human model for combined type I and II 5-α reductase inhibition (as there is with type II) long-term usage should be viewed cautiously.

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Dr. Bernstein summarizes an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute:

Curis, Inc., a drug development company, has published data showing the effectiveness of a proprietary Hedgehog pathway activator to stimulate hair growth in adult mice. The study shows that a topically applied small molecule agonist of the Hedgehog signaling pathway can stimulate hair follicles to pass from the resting stage to the growth stage of the hair cycle. The Hedgehog agonist produces no other noticeable short or long-term changes in the skin of the mice.

This study also demonstrated that the Hedgehog agonist is active in human scalp in vitro as measured by Hedgehog pathway gene expression. The results suggest that topical application of a Hedgehog agonist could be effective in treating hair loss conditions, including male and female pattern genetic hair loss.

Preliminary results were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) in February 2005. This work was based on a study in 2001 by Sato et. Al. who showed that the Sonic hedgehog gene is involved in the initiation of hair growth in mice.

Reference: Sato N., Leopold PL, Crystal, RG. Effect of Adenovirus-Mediated Expression of Sonic Hedgehog Gene on Hair Regrowth in Mice With Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2001, Vol. 93, No. 24.

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The highly-rated CBS television program “The Early Show” interviewed Dr. Bernstein as part of a three-part series on hair loss in women. View a clip of the video here:

Watch the video at YouTube or go to the Bernstein Medical YouTube Channel to see more videos on hair loss in women and other hair restoration topics.

Read the full transcript here:

Julie Chen: There are many treatments available for serious hair loss including surgical options like hair transplants. That may sound scary, but for one woman, it was the answer she’d been waiting for.

Narrator: Marian Malloy is used to being in control. As the duty manager for an international terminal at Newark Airport, it’s her job. But Marian wasn’t always so self-confident. Due to a condition called alopecia areata, Marian began losing her hair back in college.

Marian Malloy: I was on my own for the very first time and I was learning about life and learning about my hair loss. And it just devastated me. So I started out picking out methods to improve my hairline. Initially, I went to a dermatologists who put me on a prescription of injections, actually. I would go over weekly and he injected my head, and I got results, but I also started growing facial hair, which wasn’t something that I wanted. After that, I decided to start with the Rogaine and once again I saw results, but Rogaine was something that I had to do every day for the rest of my life, and I just didn’t want to be that dependent on a medication.

Narrator: Marian continued to search for an acceptable treatment to her condition, even trying hair plugs, until she heard about Dr. Robert Bernstein’s new method of Follicular Unit Transplantation, or in layman’s terms, a hair transplant.

Marian Malloy: I wasn’t scared at all. I was desperate, so that overrode everything.

Julie Chen: Marian Malloy is here along with her hair transplant surgeon, Dr. Robert Bernstein, to help us look at some of the medical options that are available to women suffering from this affliction.

Good morning to both of you.

Dr. Bernstein: Good morning.

Marian Malloy: Good morning.

Julie Chen: Marian, thank you for speaking out about this very private problem. How has your life changed since getting the hair transplant?

Marian Malloy: Well, I just feel better about my appearance, and appearance is very important to me in my line of work. I just feel a lot better and I think I look better. My hairline looks better.

Julie Chen: Boost in the self-confidence department?

Marian Malloy: Actually, yes.

Julie Chen: And your friends and family see a difference in it?

Marian Malloy: You know, my friends and family really didn’t notice a difference before, and they thought I was crazy for harping on it the way that I did.

Julie Chen: But if you see it, that’s all that —

Marian Malloy: And it was all about me. It’s not about my family and friends. It’s about how I feel.

Julie Chen: Right.

Marian Malloy: Yes.

Julie Chen: Dr. Bernstein, I want to go through all the options that are available for women, but what is the difference between female and male hair loss option-wise. What can we do to treat it?

Dr. Bernstein: The main difference medically is that women have hair loss often from hormonal changes and it’s due to an imbalance between progesterones and estrogens. That equilibrium can be reestablished with medication. Often birth control pills can do that.

Julie Chen: So that’s one option.

Dr. Bernstein: One option. For the most common cause of hair loss, genetic hair loss, Minoxidil can be used for both men and women, but the most effective medication for men, Propecia, can’t be used in women. And the reason –

Julie Chen: Why not?

Dr. Bernstein: The reason is that it causes birth defects if taken during pregnancy and postmenopausally it doesn’t seem to work.

Julie Chen: Oh, okay. So talk to me about Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine .Just as successful for women as in men?

Dr. Bernstein: It seems to be similarly successful, but the success rate is not very good, and one of the problems with its use in women is that you can get hair at the hairline on the forehead. So the usefulness is a little bit limited.

Julie Chen: So is it promoting hair growth if it does work, the Rogaine, or is it just making your existing hair grow in thicker? I’ve heard both.

Dr. Bernstein: It actually stimulates the growth of existing hair.

Julie Chen: Okay so you got to be really careful topically what you touch after you’re rubbing it into your scalp.

Dr. Bernstein: Yes.

Julie Chen: Another option is topical Cortisone and Cortisone injection.

Dr. Bernstein: Yes many people think that Cortisone can be used for genetic hair loss or common hair loss and it really can’t. It’s a good treatment for specific types of diseases, the most common one is alopecia areata. In that condition, the body actually fights off its own hair follicles. And then the Cortisone is used to suppress the immune system and actually allows the body to permit the hair to grow back.

Julie Chen: Now, Marian tried these options that we’re talking about. You weren’t satisfied, so you had a hair transplant.

Marian Malloy: Yes.

Julie Chen: Describe exactly what you did for Marian.

Dr. Bernstein: In the past, hair transplantation was not a good option for women because hair was transplanted in little clumps. With Follicular Unit Transplantation, we can now transplant hair exactly the way it grows, which is in little tiny bundles of one to four hairs. With Marian we took a strip from the back of her head, in other words, right from the back of the scalp where you can’t see it.

Julie Chen: Where there’s more hair?

Dr. Bernstein: Yes, we remove that strip and place it under a microscope and dissect out the individual follicular units – the hair is transplanted exactly the way it grows in nature. And that hair is then put in needle-poke incisions all along the hairline, and because the grafts are so small, you can actually mimic the swirls and the change in hair direction exactly the way the hair grows naturally.

Julie Chen: And it stays?

Dr. Bernstein: Yes, it stays. We make a very snug fit between the graft and the needle-poke incision. And so it really holds on to the grafts well. In fact, the patients can shower the next morning.

Julie Chen: The next morning? Marian, what was your experience like having this hair transplant? No problems since?

Marian Malloy: No problems, absolutely no problems.

Julie Chen: Did insurance cover any of this?

Marian Malloy: No, absolutely not.

Julie Chen: How costly is this?

Dr. Bernstein: The average procedure is about $7,000.

Julie Chen: And it’s one procedure and you’re done?

Dr. Bernstein: Usually one to two procedures.

Julie Chen: $7,000 a pop. Well, you found it was worth your money, is that right, Marian?

Marian Malloy: Absolutely, yes.

Julie Chen: Dr. Bernstein, Marian Malloy, thank you both for coming on the show talking about this.

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“Good Morning America” interviewed Dr. Bernstein in their two-part series on hair transplant surgery. View a clip of the video here:

Read the full transcript:

Charles Gibson: In a two-part series this week, “The Bald Facts,” we are looking at what works and what doesn’t in hair replacement.

And first up, we want you to meet Charles Teacher, a real estate executive who for 30 years has been a guinea pig for every kind of baldness remedy there was. Let’s look at his struggle through the years.

Charles Teacher: It was very restrictive. You’re always patting it down, looking in the mirror to see that it’s not sort of showing. It’s a really difficult way to live.

Charles Gibson: Charles Teacher should know. He’s been studying the latest trends in baldness for three decades. His hair started thinning when he was just 26, and back then he tried that bastion of hope, the comb-over.

Charles Teacher: I still had hair then. You couldn’t see that I was bald, but I could see I was very thin. It really is this fear of being unattractive to women. I suppose it is a certain amount of vanity in terms of how you look, but most of it is this fear of being rejected.

Charles Gibson: So even at an early age, he began wearing a toupee and bemoaning his genetic fate. His father had male pattern baldness. Would he spend the rest of his life worrying which way the wind blew on the golf course? Then came 1977 and the heralding of the hair plug. Charles Teacher was first in line for the surgery, and what a surgery it turned out to be.

Charles Teacher: Most of the plugs didn’t take and the few that did were in the front in a very bad hairline. It looked stupid.

Charles Gibson: This was the hairline of those old plugs, right across his forehead, so he went back to his toupee. He had a curly rug when styles were curly, a grayer one as he grayed, and he wore his hairpiece to bed. Even his wife never saw him without it.

Charles Teacher: She never saw me without the hairpiece for 30 years until I had the consultation with the surgeon who is doing the transplant and I removed it off like that.

Charles Gibson: The consultation was with hair transplant surgeon Robert Bernstein who recommended Teacher go bald, just a better bald, moving hair around to give him more on top. He demonstrated with before and after pictures of former patients. Teacher signed on and had the old plugs removed which would be added on with the rest.

Years ago in transplants like Charles Teacher’s, the surgeon removed small circles of tissue from the back of the head where hair growth is stable, then to transplant those clumps of up to 30 hairs, the surgeon would remove a matching circle of tissue from the top of the head and put in the graft. It worked, but it didn’t look natural.

Dr. Bernstein: That has always been the problem, that grafts that were done 25, 30 years ago are still around. So really the idea is not just to get the hair to grow. That’s the simple part. The challenge is to do it in a way that looks natural.

Charles Gibson: Now Charles Teacher’s best hope, single follicular unit transplants. The surgeon removes a strip of hair-producing tissue from the back of the head and separates it under a microscope into units of one to four hairs, the way hair grows naturally. The surgeon then makes tiny incisions exactly where and at what angle he wants each hair to grow and then implants it.

Teacher decided it was worth a try, even though it would cost thousands of dollars. Now he wants to burn his old toupee for one of the best results of all, to go swimming with his new grandchild, carefree.

Charles Teacher: I really feel that I’ve been given a new lease in life in many ways. It sounds silly, but just to be normal, just to be normal.

Charles Gibson: We’re joined by Charles Teacher, sans toupee, and the man who helped to get rid of it, Dr. Robert Bernstein, Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Columbia University.

Good to have you both here. Why go through all this trouble? Why not just be bald?

Charles Teacher: I think it’s because I started with a hairpiece when I was rather young, 26, and I just didn’t have the guts to take it off. I think I felt a bit like Samson and Delilah, should we say, you know, if I lost my hair, I’d lose my strength or my personality.

Charles Gibson: And you’re pleased with this.

Charles Teacher: It’s just awesome.

Charles Gibson: Dr. Bernstein, is his hair actually growing? I had always heard that you can transplant hair, but you can’t make it grow.

Dr. Bernstein: No, actually, a transplant will continue to grow. He has to get haircuts just like it’s his normal hair.

Charles Gibson: Are there good candidates and bad candidates for this?

Dr. Bernstein: Yes. And actually people that wear hairpieces are sometimes tricky because their baseline is a full head of hair, so one of the important things that we had to discuss in the first consult was what his expectations were and whether he realized that a transplant wouldn’t give him the fullness of a hairpiece, but of course, it would look much more natural.

Charles Gibson: That’s why you lose the line, you’re still bald to some extent, but it’s a better kind of bald.

Dr. Bernstein: Yes.

Charles Gibson: Single follicular unit transplants is such a mouthful, but basically it’s saying you’re just transplanting a hair two or three at a time.

Dr. Bernstein: Right. In the old days, hair was planted in little clumps and then it was divided into small pieces but arbitrarily. Now we transplant hair exactly the way it grows in nature, and hair normally grows in little tiny bundles and they’re called follicular units.

Charles Gibson: I don’t know if it’s dirty trick, but we have a camera behind you because in the back of your head, you’re going to have a second procedure now.

Charles Teacher: Yes, we’ll have a second procedure actually this morning. I think that we’ll leave the back and probably just reinforce the front so that it –- I mean, you don’t really see the back of your head, you’re only worried about how you appear in the mirror.

Charles Gibson: Right. How much does it cost?

Charles Teacher: I haven’t told my wife. Can I give that a miss?

Charles Gibson: Well, I’m sure Dr. Bernstein, he’ll probably say something.

Dr. Bernstein: We charge about $5 a graft.

Charles Gibson: About $5 a graft, which is one, two, three, four, five hairs –-

Dr. Bernstein: That’s right.

Charles Gibson: — per time. So that gets rather expensive. I mean, we’re talking about $10,000, $15,000 for a total procedure?

Dr. Bernstein: Yes.

Charles Gibson: Which insurance does or does not cover?

Dr. Bernstein: It usually does not.

Charles Gibson: But you probably spent that much in toupees over the time.

Charles Teacher: Absolutely. You know, so $2,000 or $3,000 a year with the toupees and the hairdresser worrying every week, you know, yeah.

Charles Gibson: Gotta ask. You’re a little thin on top yourself, yet you haven’t done this.

Dr. Bernstein: Everybody asks me that. It just doesn’t bother me. And I think it’s important being a doctor that people, when they come to see me, they don’t feel compelled that they have to have the transplant, that they’re here because they want to. And that being bald is okay.

Charles Gibson: So the title, if somebody’s interested in this, is follicular unit transplant.

Dr. Bernstein: Yes.

Charles Gibson: All right. Dr. Bernstein, thanks very much. Charles Teacher, thank you very much.

Charles Teacher: Thank you.

Charles Gibson: Good to see you. Good luck with the procedure today.

Charles Teacher: Thank you.

Watch more videos on hair transplantation and hair transplant repair in our Hair Restoration Videos section

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Follicular Transplantation - Hair Transplant Forum International - July/August 1997Dr. O’tar Norwood discusses the origin of follicular transplantation, and the influence that Dr. Bernstein’s research and publications have had on the evolution of the hair transplant procedure. Read a segment of the article:

The evolution of “follicular transplantation” can be attributed to three people. Dr. Robert Bernstein coined the phrase and advanced the concept. Dr. Bob Limmer introduced the use of the binocular microscope, providing the technology, and Dr. David Seager showed by direct hair counts, comparing the growth of grafts cut with and without the microscope, how the hair growth was improved when the follicular unit was kept intact.

Read the full article in the Hair Restoration Papers portion of our website.

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Cosmetic Surgery Times features Dr. Bernstein’s presentation to the 55th annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in their April 1997 issue.

The article entitled, “Follicular Transplants Mimic Natural Hair Growth Patterns,” describes Dr. Bernstein’s introduction of his new procedure, Follicular Unit Transplantation, to the academy as well as the keys to making the technique successful. Find the complete article below:

Form Follows Function: Follicular Transplants Mimic Natural Hair Growth Patterns

By Neil Osterweil
Contributing Editor

SAN FRANCISCO – In recent years, many hair replacement surgeons have adopted the modem architecture philosophy that “less is more,” moving from the use of hair plugs, to split grafts, to minigrafts and, finally, micrografts. But at least one hair transplant specialist contends that a more appropriate architectural dictum is “form follows function.”

In other words, the surgeon should let the technique fit the head, and not the other way around, suggested Robert M. Bernstein, MD, at the 55th annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Dr. Bernstein is an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University in New York. He described his “follicular transplantation” technique in a meeting presentation and in an interview with COSMETIC SURGERY TIMES.

Natural Hair Groups Used

Dr. Robert M. Bernstein“Hair doesn’t grow singly it grows in naturally occurring groups of from one to four hairs. In follicular transplantation, we use these naturally occurring groups as the unit of the transplant,” he told CST.

The typical follicular unit consists of one to four terminal hairs, one or two vellus hairs, sebaceous glands, subcutaneous fat and a band of collagen which circumscribes and defines the unit. In the follicular transplant technique, the follicular unit is carefully dissected and removed, and then the intervening skin is discarded. This enables the donor site to be small, allowing implantation through a small needle poke. Because trauma to the recipient sites is minimal, the entire procedure can be performed at one time. Dr. Bernstein and colleagues have implanted as many as 3,900 follicular units in a single, 1 day session.

Keys to the follicular transplant technique are:

Identify the patient’s natural hair groupings and isolate the individual follicular units – Hair groupings are assessed with an instrument called a densitometer, and the average size of a person’s groups can be easily calculated. This information is critical in the planning of the transplant. The density of hairs in an individual measured as the number of hairs per square millimeter of skin is quite variable, but the density of follicular units is relatively constant within individual races.

Most people of Caucasian ancestry have a density of approximately one group per millimeter; people of Asian and African descent tend to have slightly less dense growth patterns, although the characteristics of the person’s hair (such as wavy or wiry hair), can give a full appearance even with low density.

If a patient has an average hair density of two, he will receive mostly two hair implants, with some one-hair and three hair implants mixed in. “If you try to make the groups larger than they occur naturally, they will look pluggy. If you try to make them smaller than they naturally occur, they’re not going to grow as well, because each group is actually a little biologic machine that makes the hair — it’s an anatomic unit. If you break it up it just doesn’t grow as well,” Dr. Bernstein observed.

Form Follows Function: Follicular Transplants Mimic Natural Hair Growth Patterns
A 38-year old man with a Norwood Class 5A/6 hair loss pattern undergoes a single procedure of 2,500 follicular implants. The result 11 months later. (Photos courtesy of Robert M. Bernstein, MD)

Harvest meticulously – The acquisition and preparation of grafts must be carefully performed to ensure success for this demanding technique. Highly trained, skilled assistants are essential to the success of the procedure. Dr. Bernstein noted that he uses a highly trained team of up to 10 assistants to produce the implants for a single case. “The assistants, who range from medical technicians to registered nurses, are such an integral part of the procedure that they must become expert in their specific tasks for the surgery to be successful.” The physician must be able to skillfully harvest the donor strip and must be able to make accurate judgments about the size of grafts intra-operatively and adjust the technique accordingly. Dissection and placing of the follicular units is the most labor intensive part of the procedure.

Design the recipient area well – The recipient sites are carefully distributed so that a natural looking pattern is maintained throughout the recipient area. An important consideration for this stage of the procedure is to “frame the face and spare the crown” so those facial features are kept in correct proportion. A common mistake in hair replacement, said Dr. Bernstein, is to create a hairline that is too high thereby elongating the forehead and accentuating, rather than minimizing, the patient’s baldness. It is also important to avoid or eliminate contrast between the implants and surrounding skin by creating a soft transition zone of single hairs and to have the hair emerge from the scalp at natural angles.

Procedure Lowers Cost

Although the procedure is highly labor intensive, it can actually be less expensive than conventional hair replacement surgery, because it can be performed in a single, but lengthy, session.

“It is also much more efficient and conserves donor hair much better than conventional hair transplants. Every time you make an incision in the person’s scalp you waste some hair and make the remaining hair more difficult to remove. Accessing the donor area just once or twice will increase the total amount of hair that is available for the transplant,” Dr. Bernstein told CST.

“In the very near future, the procedure will be improved and made more affordable with automated instruments that will enable the surgeon to make sites and implant the hair in a single motion. This will also decrease the possibility of injury to the implants by reducing handling and keeping the grafts uniformly cool and moist. It is possible that someday hair follicles may be cloned to provide a virtually unlimited supply of custom follicular units, but until then the finite nature of a person’s donor supply must be respected,” concluded the doctor.

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