One of the limitations inherent in current hair transplant surgery is the need for sufficient donor hairs. Many individuals wanting to address their hair loss through a transplant simply don’t have the needed amount of healthy hair follicles available to be extracted and moved to thinning or bald areas of their scalp. But scientists at Columbia University may have found a solution to that problem.
As recently reported in the Daily Beast, 3-D printing technology may make it possible in the not-too-distant future to grow donor hair follicles in a dish that doctors can then transplant into a patient. As Dr. Angela Christiano, the lead researcher at Columbia, put it, “We can basically create a hair farm.”
Using a 3-D printer, Christiano’s team created a mold filled with extremely tiny wells and put neonatal skin cells into those wells. They then seeded hair follicles donated by volunteers into the microwells, along with growth factors to stimulate hair growth.
Three weeks later, the mold contained small yet robust hair follicles – grown entirely outside of human skin.
While no testing has been done on humans, and no hairs grown in a mold have been transplanted into a patient, the implications of this development are potentially huge. Using current transplant methods, a patient may need up to 2,000 follicles on the back of their head to have a sufficient amount for transplantation elsewhere. Using Christiano’s innovation, it may be possible to grow an adequate amount of new hair follicles in a 3-D printed mold using just a small amount of donor hair from the patient’s scalp.
As Christiano notes, if further testing and refinement of the technology confirm the safety and effectiveness of hair transplants using externally grown follicles, “Hair restoration surgery would no longer be limited by the number of donor hairs.”
The Miami Hair & Skin Institute: At the Forefront of Hair Restoration Advancements
At the moment, however, hair transplant surgery does require a patient to have enough hair for transplantation. At the Miami Hair & Skin Institute, we are leaders in the development and use of game-changing hair restoration methods and pride ourselves in steadfast commitment to ensuring that the procedures we perform and technology we use are safe, proven, and effective. We will continue to monitor hair restoration innovations like 3-D printing and report on any new advancements that may benefit our patients.
To schedule your personalized hair loss consultation with our world-renowned hair restoration experts, contact our Institute online or call us directly at 877-443-9070.