What is Stem Cell Therapy for Hair Loss?
This procedure for hair loss involves the injection of mesenchymal stem cells, which come from the human umbilical cord into the parts of the scalp affected by hair loss. They are not embryonic, which means they are not from an embryo. The umbilical cord where the cells are taken from comes from pregnant females within 36 to 40 weeks gestation age. After the cells are injected into the scalp, hair growth starts at around the 1 month mark, peaking in about 4-6 months. Stems cells are ordered with FedEx overnight delivery to our office, arriving on dry ice. The package is opened in front of the patient and mixed with PRP, and then injected into the scalp. The entire process of Stem Cell injection takes about 1.5 hours. Patients can go home the same day without any issue.
How Are Stem Cell Treatments Different From PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) Treatments?
PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma. It begins with centrifuging blood so we can concentrate the growth factors and platelets naturally present.PRP does not provide much stem cells because adults typically don’t have many stem cells in our blood. In contrast, Mesenchymal Stem Cells from the human umbilici cord are stem cells, not just growth factors. When injected into the scalp these cells can help to promote hair growth. Stem cell injections as a treatment for hair loss began with physicians concentrating human stem cells from the fat harvested during liposuction, then injecting the stem cells into either the face (for facial rejuvenation) or the scalp to combat hair loss. The issue with sourcing stem cells from fat is that the stem cells are not always high quality or as potent and powerful, especially as patients get older. Therefore, we have chosen to use stem cells from the human umbilical cord, which usually are more robust and potent when they are compared to the stem cells derived from fat cells.
Do You Have Any Video Testimonials?
Yes. Here is one below. There are also many video testimonials scattered throughout this page. Please follow us on Instagram (#LADermatology) for up to date videos, photos and live videos.
Do You Have Any Before and After Photos?
Does PRP contain stem cells?
A normal PRP treatment does not include any stem cells. PRP involves concentrating only growth factors and platelets to be injected into the patient. Often, patients and sometimes doctors confuse PRP with concentrated stem cells but blood is not the optimal source to utilize stem cells. Originally stem cells would come from fat collected during liposuction. But that process was very labor intensive and not worth the effort especially when considering that stem cells are not as potent as the source patient aged. We now use the stem cells derived from the umbilical cord, and they make a much larger impact than PRP or stem cells previously taken from fat.
How is the Process of Stem Cell Injections Performed?
- PRP is performed in order to concentrate the growth factors from your own blood. Dr. Behnam is the inventor of PRP 3Spin, which is a form of PRP that better concentrates growth factors. Please see the PRP page for additional details.
- While the PRP is performed, the scalp is cleansed and numbed.
- Stem cells are delivered overnight in a Fedex box. The box is opened, dry ice dumped out and the stem cell package is removed.
- Stem cell vial is removed from the packaged, thawed and then immediately mixed with the PRP.
- The mixed Stem Cell + PRP is then injected in the scalp
- DermaRoller is done afterwards.
I have heard Dr. Behnam has a propriety method of using the Derma Roller, which increased the efficacy of the Stem Cell. Can you elaborate?
Great questions. Most doctors do not use a Derma Roller after PRP. Dr. Behnam does use a DermaR oller and he has seen a significant difference in cases where the Derma Roller is used and the ones where Derma Roller is not used. He does have a special propriety method of using the Derma Roller, and unfortunately we can not elaborate on this here.
How long do you wait between the time Stem Cells are mixed with PRP to inject in the scalp?
The less time, the better. Dr. Behnam injects the mixture immediately after they are mixed together.
Can I inject eyebrows with Stem Cell?
Yes. Thinned out eyebrows can be injected with Stem Cells. The protocol is slightly different than Stem Cell injections for the scalp. Please see Dr. Behnam for a consultation for more details.
Are there clinical studies showing the efficacy of Stem Cells for hair loss?
Yes. According to the study by Elmaadawi et al . titled “Stem cell therapy as a novel therapeutic intervention for resistant cases of alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia,” 40 patients with hair loss were treated with only one session of stem cells. Six months after the injections, there were significant improvement that were confirmed by immunostaining and digital dermoscopy. There were no side effects reported.
What is the difference between Stem Cells from bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord blood?
There are studies comparing the Stem Cells from bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord blood. According to Jin HJ et al., ” Comparative analysis of human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord blood as sources of cell therapy,” the authors state that “Although adult bone marrow and adipose tissue are the main sources for clinical use, they are limited because harvesting requires invasive procedures and there are stringent donor age requirements. Mesenchymal stem cells derived from elderly patients may be clinically ineffective… Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is considered most suitable because it is free from ethical complications, and easy to isolate via non-invasive methods.”
Can’t I use my own stem cells derived from my own fat cells to be injected into my scalp?
Yes you can. And in fact, clinical studies testing Stem Cells for hair loss all used stem cells from fat. However, stem cells derived from fat have certain limitation.
- Hard to isolate: To harvest the stem cells, an invasive procedure is required to remove the fat from the body and then separate the stem cells from the rest of the cells. This is a timely and expensive process.
- Age has a significant effect on the potency of stem cells. According to Jin HJ et al., Stem cells from elderly individuals may not be as effective as Stem Cells from younger individuals. This means fat derived Stem cells are not consistent among everyone. Stem Cells derived from the Human Umbilical cord are potentially more potent because of their age.
Can Stem cells be obtained from a blood draw, like PRP?
No. Stem cells can not be obtained from a simple blood draw. Traditionally, in order harvest the stem cells, an invasive procedure was required to remove the fat from the body and then separate the stem cells from the rest of the cells.
What is the array of anti-inflammatory proteins and cytokines that are released that help with hair loss?
The key immunomodulatory proteins and cytokines include PGE-2, TGF beta-22, HGF, IL-4, IL-6,m IL-10, IL-1ra and others.
How are the Stem Cells processed, and are they safe to use?
The source of the stem cells, the umbilical cord, gets processed immediately in the hospital according to a protocol created by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Around 4 weeks before an already scheduled caesarean section, the mother is asked if she would prefer to keep and store her unborn child’s umbilical cord for herself. If she declines then she is given the option to donate it. If she agrees, there is an informed consent for her to sign and a thorough review of her entire medical history proceeds, including her medical history, social history, and later at the time of delivery, a blood test. If they are considered an acceptable donor according to the rules and restrictions of the AATB, then immediately after the delivery a technician will clamp the umbilical cord, take it to a clean room, remove its contents, and then place it into a collection bag. The umbilical cord blood is then processed at a lab. There, the cells are processed using a proprietary method. A sample is shipped to an independent CLIA lab for sterility testing for fungus, mold, or bacteria. After both lab reports come back as “clean” and pass the various regulatory requirements, the processed umbilical cord stem cells become available for distribution.
Are Stem Cells tested for HIV, Hepatitis and other infectious diseases?
Yes. Stem cells are tested for variety of diseases, including HIV, Hepatitis, and others. Each package comes with the tests performed. At the time of procedure Dr. Behnam opens the package and shows the patient the sheet of all the passed tests.
How many cells are in each vial of Stem Cells?
It depends. For hair loss, we typically use 5 million cell Stem Cell vials. We have found that 5 million cells are sufficient to cause hair growth. All of the above before and after photos are with the 5 million Stem Cell vials. However, there are also vials that contain 10 million cells and vials that contain 30 million cells. As a patient, you can decide to choose the higher concentration of cells.
What is different about Umbilical Cord Stem Cells compared to Stem Cells derived from fat?
In Vitro studies done by the International Journal of Molecular Sciences have shown that younger, more vibrant umbilical cord stem cells can duplicate every 28 hours for up to 65 generations or more, while 50+ year old bone marrow aspirate and adipose-derived stem cells duplicate much more slowly, at a rate of 3 to 5 days for only 11 to 13 generations. Also, older cells undergo senescence (aging) quicker than young, vibrant umbilical cord cells and older senescent cells produce less quantities and less effective growth factors.
Can I have a Graft vs Host Response after the injection?
“Graft vs Host Response” occurs when the blood of two patients are mixed together. This is very rare with Umbilical Cord derived Stem Cells because these have yet to mature into a specific blood type, so any risk of reaction is incredibly low. The Umbilical Cord Blood derived cells contains live nucleated cells and as a result, occasionally the body could create an immune response. The inflammation can have a multitude of sources but this is not an example of graft vs host response. The inflammation most often presents as flu like symptoms. Not all patients will experience this but some could. Usually our office provides Claritin prior to the injection procedure.
Do They Ever Use an Aborted Fetus To Harvest Stem Cells?
No. The company we work with for the stem cells uses only the umbilical cord from a regular healthy birth.
Do Stem Cells Duplicate Themselves in the Body?
No. Stem cells are NOT able to duplicate themselves in the patient’s body. Stem cells DO have the ability to duplicate themselves in vitro, which means in culture in the lab, but they do NOT duplicate themselves once injected in the body. This is has been a long-held myth that has now been disproved.
How long do the Stem Cells last in your body?
Stem cells typically 9 to 12 months.
Are the Umbilical Cord Stem Cells From Another (Allogeneic) Safe to be Injected Into Me?
Yes, allogeneic (taken from another person) stem cells are safe to inject into the body. During the processing of the umbilical cord, the red blood cell components that could potentially cause a negative reaction are filtered out. Additionally, the umbilical cord cells are immature and so they do NOT react in the same way a mature adult cell would.
“Mesenchymal stem cells produce huge quantities of bio-molecules, some of which are immunosuppressive; MSC’s put up a curtain of molecules around themselves that allows donor (allogeneic) MSC’s to be transplanted into a recipient, free from an immune response. (Immune privileged)” – Arnold Caplan, PhD. Case Western Reserve University. Experimental and Molecular Medicine (2013) 45
Mesenchymal stem cells: environmentally responsive therapeutics for regenerative medicine
Can the Patient Take NSAIDS?
No. It is ideal for the patient to stop taking NSAIDS for about 3 days prior to the injection and for 3 weeks after. A part of the stem cells’ function is a prostaglandin response which would be inhibited by the NSAIDS. Please note, NSAIDS will NOT destroy the injected cells, just potentially lessen the effects. It is also known that not taking NSAIDS is purely to optimize the final results.
Are There Growth Factors More Concentrated in PRP Than in Umbilical Cord Cells?
This answer depends on the volume of cells used. VEGF, FGF-2, and SCF may show up as initially more concentrated in PRP but, since there are no live cells, these Growth Factors will only function for their half-life, while the live nucleated cells in umbilical cord cells will continually produce Growth Factors for weeks and possibly even months following their injection.
What are the absolute contraindications for stem cell injections:
- Post organ transplant or on the transplant list
- Immuno-compromised (as in those with HIV)
- Those with active flu-like symptoms
- Pregnant, or those that are trying to become pregnant
What are the relative contraindications:
- Active cancer or cancer within the last 5 years
- Significant food and/or drug allergies (this can typically be overcome by dosing H1 and H2 antagonists along with a non-particulate corticosteroid)
- Known sensitivity to glycerol (cryopreservant)
- Children under 12 years old
Is Stem Cell injections a cure for hair loss?
Are Stem cells used for other conditions?
Yes. They are used for joint injections, burns, and other modalities.
What preparation do I need for the day of the procedure?
Patient are advised to
- Drink a lot of fluid one day prior to the procedure
- Have breakfast the morning of their procedure
- Avoid Aspirin, Naproxen, Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs 3 days prior to the procedure and 3 weeks after the procedure.
What are the restrictions after the procedure?
There are really not many restrictions. Most patients do take the day off and return to work the following day. You can exercise and do your normal routine. It is advised to avoid Aspirin, Naproxen, Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs for 3 weeks following the proecure.
Can I combine Stem Cell therapy with other hair loss modalities?
Yes. You can use Propecia, Finasteride or Minoxidil while performing the Stem Cell treatment for hair loss.
How long do I have to wait before another session of Stem Cell for hair loss?
Dr. Behnam typically waits 4 to 6 months to re-evlaute and perform another set of Stem Cell injections for hair loss.
Do Stem Cells Cause Cancer or Cause Cancer to Grow?
Currently there exist no large direct studies that can show stem cells do not cause cancer, but there are studies where stem cells have been utilized to treat cancer, and the conclusion from these studies is that since the stem cells work to suppress cancer cells, it is assumed that they will neither help proliferate cancer cells nor cause the formation of cancer cells in the first place.
Can stem cells be used for Alopecia Areata?
Yes. According to the study by Elmaadawi et al . titled “Stem cell therapy as a novel therapeutic intervention for resistant cases of alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia,” 20 patients with Alopecia Areata were treated with Stem Cells with significant improvement.
Disclaimer: The content/images on this video are not a guarantee of individual results. Individual results may vary. The information provided is for general information and educations purposes only and does not replace a need for a formal consultation. Stem cells are produced in an FDA approved facility and distributed to physicians. Stem cells are not FDA approved and the procedure described in the above video is investigational therapy only and has not been approved for hair loss by the FDA. Stem cell therapy is not a cure for hair loss and the results are temporary.