Aesthetic physicians have relied on hair transplants and pharmacological treatments for years to help patients suffering from hair loss. Patients have gone along with those treatments for lack of anything else. However, times are changing. There are now three alternative hair growth treatments gradually winning patients over.
Each of the three is considered less invasive than transplant surgery. None of them have the same potential side effects as pharmacological treatments. As such, growing numbers of patients are choosing them over more traditional treatments.
The three alternative treatments are briefly explained below. They do not work for everyone, but neither do hair transplant surgeries and prescription medications. It’s up to each patient to research the options and discuss them with a doctor before making a decision.
1. Low Level Laser Therapy
Our list of treatments begins with something known as low level laser therapy (LLLT). It is a treatment that uses laser light to reactivate follicles no longer growing hair. Laser light is applied directly to the scalp of the patient. It is a fairly straightforward procedure with a low risk of complications.
Unfortunately, very few studies have been done on the effectiveness of this treatment. A few conducted between 2012 and 2015 produced conflicting results. Having said that, there are doctors and patients who swear by it. Their anecdotal evidence certainly needs to be considered.
2. Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is next on the list. PRP therapy is considered regenerative medicine, according to the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) in Salt Lake City, Utah. It utilizes blood drawn from the patient being treated, thus making for a procedure that is considered very safe and virtually risk-free.
A typical PRP treatment involves extracting blood from the patient, processing the blood in a centrifuge to isolate platelets and growth factors, and then injecting the resulting material into the affected areas of the scalp. An alternative to injections is a process known as dermarolling.
3. Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy for hair loss is very similar to its PRP cousin, explains ARMI. Stem cells are extracted from adipose (fat) tissue and processed in centrifuge. The resulting material contains concentrated stem cells along with growth factors that can promote hair growth. It is injected into the scalp at appropriate locations.
ARMI points out that several studies have shown PRP and stem cell therapies to be effective in some patients. There isn’t a ton of clinical data yet, but it is growing. There is also plenty of anecdotal data provided by both doctors and their patients.
Discuss All Options with Patient
If you are an aesthetic physician looking to add these alternative treatments to your practice, we encourage you to do your own research. Be sure to undergo proper training to ensure that you are administering the procedures correctly. And when it comes time to start treating patients, be sure to discuss all options with them.
Your patients need to know that there is no single hair loss treatment that works for everyone. Some patients are exceptional candidates for PRP and stem cell therapies. Others are not. Regardless of the treatment any one patient chooses, that person’s response may or may not be as expected. Patients need all this information up front if they are to make informed decisions.
In the meantime, know that there are several alternative treatments for hair loss now winning patients over. You owe it to yourself and your practice to look into them. They may be just what you need to expand your practice beyond its current scope.