Currently, for the treatment of pattern baldness and other permanent hair loss ailments, the best available is FUE hair restoration surgery. This less invasive, scar minimizing form of hair transplant also introduces a much broader donor supply than ever before. However, the donor supply is not limitless with any current hair surgery. The only technology that could achieve an unlimited donor supply would be hair cloning. But this technology won’t replace FUE hair restoration anytime soon. There have been a few recent attempts to make hair cloning a reality, but they have proven unsuccessful or inconsistent thus far.
Recent Hair Cloning Attempts
The first major hair cloning attempt was presented at the 2011 ISHRS meeting. Based on a wound-healing agent called ACell Matristem, made from pig bladder, researchers thought multiplying hair follicles might be possible. By applying this formula to plucked hair, its regenerative properties would be enough to stimulate the growth of a whole new hair after implantation—while the original follicle, with its stem cells in tact, would re-grow. This was an innovative theory, but the trial results showed that it was not a reliable reality.
More recently the Gho Procedure has been in the public eye. This hair cloning method, also called partial-follicular unit extraction (P-FUE), is currently in testing. Basically, there are two sets of stem cells within any follicle, one set closer to the surface and the other set deeper under the skin. The idea with P-FUE is to excise the donor follicle only up to the first set, leaving the second set of stem cells in place. In theory, both would be able to grow a new hair with only the one set of stem cells attached. The problem with this method is that it compromises a large number of grafts in the process, making them altogether useless. Thus, the overall hair transplant results are subpar.
FUE Hair Restoration Capabilities
Hair cloning may replace FUE hair restoration in the future, but for the time being, there is no other hair transplant method that enables the use of non-traditional donor hair. An advanced FUE surgeron can use hair from the nape of the neck to improve eyebrow transplant or hairline refinement. An FUE surgeon who is skilled in body hair transplant (BHT) takes the donor pool even further by using hair from almost anywhere on the body. FUE makes it possible to restore the severely bald, and those who suffer scalp donor hair depletion due to severe scarring from a surgery or accident.