Stem cells are present in all body tissues and are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of those parts. Specifically, these are referred to as Adult Stem Cells because they are specific to their tissue location (unlike Embryonic Stem Cells which have the ability to form any kind of tissue). When tissue is damaged, adult stem cells become activated and recruit Growth Factors and other cell types to the area and tissue regeneration begins. In the case of genetic hair loss, there is not tissue damage, only gradual deactivation of follicular stem cells. The process causes a steady decline in hair quantity and quality.
What is PRP?
PRP, or Platelet Rich Plasma, is a concentration derived from your own blood – a rich source of specialized proteins called growth factors that stimulate the stem cells and take them from a dormant state (in which hair is no longer growing) to an active state (in which hair growth is occurring).
How does stem cell + PRP work?
Stem cells taken from your own fat tissue, when injected into the scalp, can reverse the shrinking of hair follicles.
What makes stem cells so unique is that they have the ability to repair and heal more quickly. Since stem cells have special regenerative properties, their ability to help with a variety of conditions and injuries is vast and promising. In fact, research has discovered that stem cells can now be used within the hair follicles to promote new hair growth in those dealing with thinning hair or balding due to a variety of different factors.
Stem cell + PRP therapy is most effective for those in the early stages of hair loss or for patients who are not candidates for surgery. The treatment is also ideal for women who prefer to avoid hair surgery or do not have enough quality donor hair for a transplant.
What to Expect
In the stem cell + PRP procedure, we will first take a sample of your blood and spin it down to extract the platelet-rich plasma. Dr. Darling will then perform a mini-liposuction to obtain 1 to 2 ounces of adipose (fat) tissue from your abdomen, flank, or hip area. This portion of the treatment takes about 30 minutes.
Using special equipment within our lab at Missouri Hair Institute, live stem cells are extracted from the fat sample and combined with the PRP. Dr. Darling then administers a number of stem cell + PRP injections into the scalp. The entire procedure may last 3 – 4 hours. For best results, Dr. Darling recommends two treatments within a 3- to 6-month period.
There is very little downtime associated with the stem cell + PRP treatment, although you may experience some soreness in the liposuction area as well as the scalp for up to 7 days. You can go back to work the day after treatment, although you should refrain from exercise for at least a week.
Results from stem cell therapy, like other hair loss treatments, usually take 6 – 8 months before any noticeable improvement in hair density.