As people age, the body changes. We gradually develop grey hair and wrinkles. Another change that occurs is loss of hair, which can affect how we look and how we feel. It can make us look older than we really are, which can cause psychological distress. There are a number of reasons why we lose our hair.

In men, male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss and is due to a combination of genetics and male hormones. This can result in a receding forehead or a bald spot on the top of the head. This happens to a variable degree in at least 50 percent of men. Other factors that can affect hair loss are stress and several types of medication.

Image 1: Men experience a progressive rise in their hairline and thinning on the top of their head.

There are a number of treatments for male pattern hair loss. Medication such as Minoxidil can result in some hair growth. This is a blood pressure medication that has the side effect of causing hair growth. It can be applied topically to the scalp but must be continued forever to maintain the hair growth. Hair transplant surgery can move hair from the back of the head into the area where hair has been lost. This is a surgical procedure that usually takes several hours and can be painful and expensive.

Woman can also experience hair loss. The pattern of hair loss is different than in men. It usually involves a progressive thinning on the top of the head and can involve thinning in the temple region as well.

Figure 2: Female pattern hair loss usually involves the thinning of hair along a strip on the top of the head or thinning in the temple region.

Other forms of hair loss include Alopecia areata in which people lose hair in patches. This is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s own immune system attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair loss. It can be treated with steroid injections which suppress the immune system. The injections need to be repeated regularly and do not treat the underlying condition. Injections of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) or Adipose derived stem cells can stop the hair loss and lead to new hair growth. Stem cells are effective in a number of autoimmune diseases through their paracrine mechanism. They secrete chemicals that can restore the function of the immune system to normal so that it does not attack the hair follicles resulting in reduced loss of hair and growth of new hair.

Figure 3: Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss in which hair falls out in patches.
It is an autoimmune disease where the body’s own immune cells attack the hair follicle resulting in hair loss.

Recent studies have revealed that injections of Platelet Rich Plasma into the scalp can reduce hair loss and stimulate the growth of new hair. Platelets are cells found in the blood that contain a large number of growth factors. They can stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, which provide oxygen and nutrients to the scalp and stimulate the local stem cells in hair follicles to grow. Adipose derived stem cells can also be injected into the scalp to further enhance hair growth. Stem cells act locally to improve healing and regeneration through a number of mechanisms. One mechanism is control of the local environment by secreting a variety of factors that regulate the function of other cells, including those found in the hair follicle. They may also be able to differentiate into different types of cells, including hair cells. This is a promising area of medicine that will improve in the future with ongoing research.

Attached are two papers on the use of PRP for hair regrowth.

 
 

 

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