There is currently no scientific evidence that supports claims that stem cell therapies can halt or reverse hair loss.
If you are suffering from male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness, you may be very intrigued by claims from some hair restoration clinics that promise a new “breakthrough” technology that involves stem cells for hair loss.
Don’t believe it. Claims stating that current stem cell therapies work for hair loss are patently false.
I recently checked in with a number of respected colleagues, leaders in the field of research on stem cells and hair loss. They confirmed what I had known to this point: as of July, 2018, there is no solid evidence to support the claim that stem cells grow new follicles or help the quality of hair that is undergoing the influence of genetic hair loss. That’s right: no peer reviewed studies and no published articles in accepted medical journals.
Suggestions that stem cell therapies work for hair loss are not supported by medical research. Recent reports as seen on USA Today discuss many issues with stem cell claims by individual physicians and clinics. The Hair Sciences Center is dedicated to patient empowerment and education and offers consultations to discuss all research based and clinically proven options for treatment of hair loss.
The pseudo-scientific claims
In a quasi-scientific slight-of-hand, clinics offering stem cell therapy generally reference two published studies. One is from UCLA, in which the authors discovered a new way to activate the stem cells in the hair follicle to make hair grow, which “may lead to new drugs that could promote hair growth.” Note the terms “may lead.” This says nothing about injecting fat cells into the scalp, which is the preferred method of many a clinic promoting stem cell therapy for hair loss.
The other reference is from the National Academy of Sciences, which discusses the self-organization process in newborn skin, which could inspire strategies to restore hair regeneration of adult cells. Again, “could inspire strategies” is hardly conclusive, and it is by far not a peer-reviewed therapy.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves indefinitely through cell division. Theyhave the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body, including muscles, nerves and blood. There are two types: embryonic stem cells derived from embryos, and adult (somatic) stem cells derived from adult tissue such as that found in the brain, blood vessels, bone marrow, muscle, and many organs.
Stem cell therapy for hair loss – what it is not
Before we exam the claims about the efficacy of stem cells and hair loss prevention, let’s clear up a few common misconceptions.
- Stem cell therapy for hair loss is not platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy; they are two entirely different things. PRP has been proven effective against hair loss in scientific studies; stem cell therapy has not.
- Stem cell therapy for hair loss is not hair cloning. This cutting-edge technology is currently not available but could become a reality as early as 2028.
- Stem cell therapy for hair loss is not FDA-approved. Although some clinics claim that they employ and “FDA-approved device” to administer the stem cell injections, this is highly misleading.
Stem cells for hair loss – the false claims
Caveat emptor! Claims regarding cryopreserved donor placental tissue and injecting stem cells derived from the fat cells of patients into the scalp do not withstand scientific scrutiny. People are spending a lot of money on a therapy that to date has not been shown to help in the slightest. If stem cells worked to prevent hair loss or promote hair growth, I would offer this therapy at my clinic. It does not, and I therefore won’t.
There are many exciting recent developments in the field of hair restoration, including follicular unit extraction and PRP, and the promise of hair cloning is real. And, if stem cells for hair loss develop into a scientifically proven breakthrough therapy, you can trust that the Hair Sciences Center will offer it as a viable option. So, watch this space.