THE NEW WAY TO “GROW” MORE HAIR

This treat­ment uses cells from your own scalp to help re­v­erse early hair loss. Here’s what you should know about who it’s for, the gain and the pos­si­ble pain.

Herworld (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

This treat­ment uses cells from your own scalp to trig­ger hair growth.

One ses­sion is usu­ally suf­fi­cient, and pa­tients can ex­pect to see less hair fall and thicker strands af­ter four to five weeks. The treat­ment works best for hair loss in its early stages, when the scalp is not yet vis­i­ble.

For Tri­cia Ong, 30-year-old so­cial me­dia per­son­al­ity and founder of lo­cal bou­tique Vain­glo­ri­ousyou, tak­ing care of her ap­pear­ance is part of her job.

She is ex­tra-mind­ful about thin­ning hair. “I was pulling my hair back into a bun one day when I no­ticed a bald spot at my hair­line,” she says. She found a rel­a­tively new anti-hair loss treat­ment called Re­gen­era Ac­tiva, avail­able at some med­i­cal clin­ics.

Pi­o­neered in Barcelona, Spain, the one-hour pro­ce­dure works by tak­ing re­gen­er­a­tive cells from a healthy part of the scalp and in­ject­ing them into bald­ing ar­eas. As the the­ory goes, these cells will stim­u­late and strengthen weak­ened fol­li­cles so they pro­duce thicker, health­ier hair.

It’s ap­proved for use by the US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the equiv­a­lent gov­ern­ing bod­ies in Europe, Korea and Ja­pan, and Sin­ga­pore’s Health Sciences Au­thor­ity. Com­pared with hair trans­plant surgery, which is known to be costly, painful and have a lengthy down­time, Re­gen­era Ac­tiva is re­port­edly far less trau­matic.

Says Dr Justin Boey, med­i­cal direc­tor of Sozo Aes­thetic Clinic: “The ‘mi­cro­grafts’ are ex­tracted from your own body. This means it is com­pletely nat­u­ral and safe, with no risk of re­jec­tion or al­lergy.”

Not ev­ery­one is con­vinced, how­ever. Der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Eti­enne Wang, a con­sul­tant at the Na­tional Skin Cen­tre, says that stem cell ther­apy for re­gen­er­a­tive medicine (which in­cludes re­grow­ing hair fol­li­cles) is still a very new con­cept. He doubts the treat­ment can de­liver sig­nif­i­cant re­sults and ad­vises that pa­tients go in with a healthy dose of scep­ti­cism.

“The­o­ret­i­cally, we should be able to use pa­tients’ own stem cells and growth fac­tors to stim­u­late the growth of var­i­ous tis­sues. How­ever, in real life, these tech­nolo­gies are un­proven, and we do not un­der­stand the way cells re­or­gan­ise to form hair fol­li­cles in hu­man skin,” he says, adding that as the treat­ments are cur­rently un­reg­u­lated and ex­per­i­men­tal, side ef­fects are un­known.

Kick-start­ing weak fol­li­cles

Lo­cal anaes­thetic is first in­jected into the back of the head. Cells are taken from this part of the scalp as it tends to have the dens­est hair and health­i­est fol­li­cles.

A biopsy punch – a pen­like de­vice doc­tors use to ex­tract tis­sue sam­ples for lab test­ing – is used to har­vest the cells, a mix of hair fol­li­cle stem cells, fat-de­rived re­gen­er­a­tive cells and en­dothe­lial cells (found in the in­te­rior lin­ing of blood ves­sels).

Dr Karen Soh, med­i­cal direc­tor of Prive Clinic, says: “The sam­ples go through me­chan­i­cal pro­cess­ing and fil­tra­tion in a spe­cialised Re­gen­era Ac­tiva de­vice to iso­late pro­gen­i­tor cells, stem cells and growth fac­tors that have re­gen­er­a­tive abil­i­ties.”

Once pre­pared, these mi­cro-grafts are planted into the bald­ing area via man­ual mi­croin­jec­tions us­ing a very fine nee­dle. The num­ber varies from 20 to 60, depend­ing on the size of the treated area and the sever­ity of hair loss.

Dr Joshua Chong, med­i­cal direc­tor of Terra Med­i­cal Clinic, high­lights that the depth of the in­jec­tions is cru­cial to the out­come. “Re­gen­era mi­cro-grafts act on hair fol­li­cles, so the doc­tor must have an un­der­stand­ing of their phys­i­ol­ogy and the scalp’s anatomy to know the right depth,” he says

At SW1 Clinic, a sim­i­lar pro­ce­dure called Ker­a­clone is on the ta­ble. Like Re­gen­era Ac­tiva, it uses the pa­tient’s healthy scalp cells to en­cour­age weak fol­li­cles to re­gen­er­ate, and in­volves the same steps. How­ever, the clinic claims to have re­fined its tech­niques to min­imise scar­ring and dis­com­fort dur­ing cell har­vest­ing and mi­croin­jec­tion.

Mild thin­ning does it

Re­gen­era Ac­tiva is for those in the early to mid­dle stages of hair loss. This means women ex­pe­ri­enc­ing thin­ning hair all over the head but have no sig­nif­i­cant bald spot yet, and men start­ing to bald above the tem­ples and at the crown.

Prices start from around $3,700. One ses­sion is nor­mally suf­fi­cient; more se­ri­ous cases may need two. Pa­tients can ap­par­ently see im­prove­ments like less hair fall and thicker strands af­ter four to five weeks. So far, re­ported re­sults last three years – the length of time the treat­ment has been in use. Stud­ies are on­go­ing.

For Ong, who did the treat­ment five months ago,

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