The Cure for Your Bald Scalp May Be as Simple as Getting Someone Else's
Doesn't sound that simple? Well, truth be told, it's not, but some researchers think that full scalp transplants may be possible in the future.
The current solution for men and women seeking to revitalize their thinning or receding hair is to undergo hair-replacement surgery, also known as follicular unit grafting. The procedure involves removing hair follicles from the back of the head, where the hair is usually its fullest, and moving them to the areas of the scalp where they are most needed.
The procedure can cost up to $10,000, but is actually relatively simple. The process is typically done under local anesthesia, and many patients are able to return to their normal routines the next day. The procedure has its shortcomings, however, as there is only so much that can be achieved by relocating a 1"x6" strip of hair from the back of the head. For individuals fed up with their lack of follicular volume, the possibility of a full scalp transplant, complete with a luscious head of hair, is promising, indeed.
Facial transplant expert Dr. Maria Siemionow of the Cleveland Clinic believes that the key to successful scalp transplants lies in research currently being conducted at the famed Ohio medical center. Siemionow and her team have recently developed a treatment in lab animals that allows a recipient of a donated organ to be on immunosuppressant drugs for merely one week. All current organ transplant patients must stay on immunosuppressant drugs, which are expensive and toxic to the body's natural immune system, for life in order to combat the natural rejection of foreign organs being introduced into the body. For this reason, organ transplant procedures are only a feasible option for individuals whose life depends on such an operation. However, the tentative findings by Dr. Siemionow and her research team could make such procedures far more accessible.
Scalp Transplants? Really?
If you're blessed with waves of auburn locks or you wear your baldness with pride and happen to find the whole idea of a scalp transplant a bit off-putting, you may be interested to know that during 2006, hair-replacement surgery generated $1.2 billion in revenue worldwide according to USA Today. The vast majority of the procedures were conducted in North America, with more than 100,000 of the 225,000 total procedures taking place in the United States. Clearly, the hair-replacement industry isn't going anywhere.
At a September conference, Dr. Siemionow stated that the research currently being undertaken could help catastrophic burn and trauma victims regain some sense of normalcy by giving them back a full head of hair. It doesn’t tax the imagination, however, to envision a time when such a procedure becomes commonplace among even those suffering from male pattern baldness. While improved immunosuppressant drug technology would certainly have profound effects on the health and lives of millions of people, the nation’s follicly challenged would surely raise a cheer if they were allowed to take part in this “hair-raising” experience, as well.
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