Those suffering from baldness have a new hope for a complete cure, thanks to stem cell hair growth research. Using stem cells to rebuild hair follicles in bald or thinning areas might be the cure for baldness men and women have been waiting for. Though it's still theoretical in practice, many top hair loss experts say use of stem cells to regrow lost hair could make male pattern baldness, and even female pattern baldness, obsolete.
Androgenetic Alopecia - or "Pattern Baldness" - affects millions of men and women throughout the world. For years, scientists have tried to determine its underlying causes, and have made some major breakthroughs in recent years. But more importantly to those who want their hair back, researchers are closer than ever to putting together a cure for baldness thanks to this blossoming field of study.
Stem cell therapy as it relates to hair regrowth is fairly simple in theory, but much more difficult in practice. Theoretically, a specialty-trained doctor or surgeon would introduce stem cell's into the patient's scalp, and then those cells would blossom into hair follicles. Those follicles would grow hair, thus filling in any bald spots or patches.
Unlike traditional hair loss surgeries where follicles are "harvested" from areas where the patient already has plenty of hair (such as the back or sides of the head) and then transplanted into the affected areas, stem cell hair regrowth procedures would create brand new follicles. Also, modern baldness surgeries patch folicles onto the head in groups of three or more, creating that recognizable "hair plug" look. It's hard to say if stem cell hair therapy would mimic this practice, or if it would create a more natural look, as I haven't found evidence to support either direction - probably because the idea of using stem cells to cure baldness is still in its early developmental stages.
Why stem cells? Because these "stems" are like blank canvases. They have not yet developed into a functional cell, and previous research has shown that they can evolve into any type of cell when properly induced - and in many cases this process is as simple as placing them next to the type of cells to be copied. Hence, many people are calling stem cell hair treatment "Hair cloning."
However, much more research is needed before this process is refined for hair regrowth. Scientists still don't fully understand the process of stem cell evolution, and research is often difficult as cost and political factors play a big role in this field of study.
Still, the idea of using advanced biochemistry breakthroughs for hair regrowth is closer to reality than many people probably realize. That's good news for those affected with male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness or any malady that causes hair loss, as losing one's hair is often very embarrassing. Not only does hair loss cause a physical change, but it also can wreck havoc on one's emotions. Many people feel like "less of a person" or even "ugly" simply because of their thinning hair.
It's not surprising that so many people spend big bucks on hair loss medications and remedies. Many have even reported success with one or more of them. They vary widely, ranging from crazy home remedies (like slathering chili paste onto the head - a practice that some historians say was common in Ancient Rome) to medication.
Currently, only two hair loss medicines have been approved: Finasteride (Propecia) and Minoxidil (Rogaine). Propecia is taken in pill form and works by binding to the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into DHT, the chemical substance thought to create baldness. Rogaine is applied topically, and has been reported to help regrow hair on the top and front of the head, though scientists aren't exactly sure why - which isn't to say that Rogaine isn't safe, as it was - and still is - tested extensively through the FDA.
Some people choose hair loss surgery rather than medication. As I mentioned earlier, doctors can harvest hair follicles from a non-bald are of the body and transplant them into the afflicted areas. The results are often mixed. Some surgeries look like "botched" jobs, while others come out beautifully. In fact, it's hard to read any celebrity gossip magazine without seeing several articles calling out celebrities who have had hair restoration surgery.
But even if dermatologists are able to use stem cell technologies to cure baldness, many of these hair loss remedies will probably remain popular. This is merely speculation on my part, but I'd be willing to bet that these types of operations won't come with a cheap price tag. And considering most health insurance plans don't cover cosmetic procedures such as hair loss surgeries, the operation might fall out of the financial reality of most people. But on the bright side, such procedures have a history of not only becoming cheaper with time, but also safer and better. Many routine cosmetic and health/illness surgeries started out as risky operations with mixed results.
In conclusion, it's hard to predict what the future holds for the millions of people suffering from hair loss or baldness. But as medical science and stem cell research progresses, it's very likely that stem cell hair regrowth procedures will eventually become available, perhaps even providing the cure for baldness that we've been waiting for.