By adding growth factors into the scalp, said Dr. Kuka, the idea is to “wake up” dormant stem cells that every hair follicle contains, to trigger cell division of the hair matrix and to reduce persistent inflammation.
Explore This IssueOctober 2014
For those patients recovering from surgery, PRP can be used to promote wound healing. “When a patient has had hair transplantation, there are thousands of tiny wounds all over the scalp,” said Dr. Ishii. “Some physicians have also used PRP injections for patients with alopecia areata, which is a more scarring form of hair loss.” PRP injections may be of benefit to patients who have undergone hair transplantation in scalp skin that has been damaged through radiation or reconstructed through a skin graft.
The use of PRP injections is still new enough—within the last few years—that data are still being gathered. “I don’t believe the current data are convincing, but that may not be because it doesn’t work,” said Dr. Ishii. “There really haven’t been many large clinical studies on PRP’s particular use in hair restoration. I’ve spoken with colleagues across the country and around the world, and the evidence is still quite anecdotal.”
Dr. Ishii remains optimistic about PRP’s use in hair restoration. “I believe that once the effects are studied more formally, we will see that it does have a benefit,” she said. “PRP use is more established in other areas—we have some data in wound healing with facial rejuvenation surgery, for example, and there are data from the orthopedic literature that notes that PRP does contribute to faster wound healing. Translating that to the fact that its use, particularly in connection with hair transplantation, is another wound healing episode, it makes sense that there would be some benefit.”
In Dr. Kuka’s experience, patient satisfaction has been high when treated with PRP. “The feedback that I have had so far was that the hair loss either slowed down or stopped, with as much as 20% to 30% regrowth achieved. I have also treated patients with alopecia areata and, recently, one with alopecia totalis who started noticing some hair regrowth after four years of being without hair.”
Robotic Hair Transplantation
Surgical hair restoration is a thriving medical practice, with estimated worldwide revenue of approximately $1.87 billion U.S. (International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery).
There are two main methods for harvesting follicles for hair transplantation: strip harvesting and follicular unit extraction (FUE). During strip harvesting, a strip of skin is excised from a patient’s scalp and cut into individual follicular units. During follicular unit extraction, naturally occurring groups of one to four hairs in a follicle are removed individually from a section of donor scalp skin.