Doctor has high hopes for new hair-loss treatment

February 21, 2013 8:27:49 PM PST
For people experiencing hair loss, there's a new treatment on the market called stem cell therapy. It's less invasive than hair transplant procedures, and could someday be the gold standard.

The idea that this procedure could spark new hair growth has breathed new life into the race to clone hair. And that may just be the beginning.

Arlene Johnson has been losing hair for years now, and she's hoping to turn back the clock.

"It was taking me like 20, 30 minutes to comb my hair, and with products to make it look like I had more hair, and that is aggravating," Johnson said.

Her weapon of choice? What could be the future of cosmetic treatments: stem cell therapy.

Hair loss specialist Dr. Daniel McGrath is hoping to jumpstart the stem cells in Johnson's hair follicles.

"Typically with female patients they have female pattern hair loss -- thinning they can't do anything about -- and it gives them thickening and regeneration of their hair, that's huge," Dr. McGrath said.

Here's how it works: A small amount of the patient's blood is taken, and the platelet-rich plasma is separated out. Then it's mixed with a wound-healing powder called "a-cell", and injected back into the scalp. Johnson's head has been numbed, so she doesn't feel a thing. Finally, the doctor using some massage and small needles to create tiny wounds, which will help trigger a healing response.

"The results we've seen thus far, not only in my practice but my colleagues I'm close with across the country, has been better than 80 percent re-growth of hair or regeneration of hair across the board with our patients," Dr. McGrath said.

This sort of therapy is being tested for a host of cosmetic uses, from plumping lips, to firming sagging skin -- even breast enhancement.

As for Johnson...

"I don't want to look 60 or 50 or 40. I just want to look as good as I can for my age," she said.

It costs about $3,500 for a treatment, but Johnson says it'll be money well spent, if it works. We'll check back in 6 months to see her results.
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