Hair Banking Today – Should You Do It?
In a surprise announcement yesterday, it has been revealed that you can now have your hair follicles preserved for the future with something called hair banking. What is hair banking? Hair banking is the process of extracting hair follicles from the donor area of a hair loss patient and then those follicles are stored in a special container at -180C. Then, as the patient continues to lose more hair, it is hoped that the hair banking process will be able to provide new dermal papilla cells to rejuvenate hairs that are still visible but are being miniaturized due to the effects of DHT. What are dermal papilla cells? Basically, the dermal papilla is where the blood supply hooks up to the hair follicle, and of course this is how the follicle receives it's vital nutrition for continued survival and growth. As hairs are being miniaturized, the blood supply reduces as well so the hope is that in the future, these dermal papilla cells can be added back to the scalp to help rejuvenate the hairs that are being miniaturized.
Does Hair Banking Make Sense?
The big question about hair follicle banking is, does it make sense to go through the process? The way that one can have their hair follicles banked is to actually have a small FUE procedure to remove about fifty hair follicles. This means that you have to go to a hair transplant clinic, have a surgery, and then the grafts that are harvested are then shipped off to a facility for storage. That may not seem like a big deal but it is probably a bigger deal than many of you realize. You'll also be paying about 2000 British pounds (in the UK) and it will probably be about 2000 dollars in North America. But at this point, there is no evidence that this hassle will be worth your time, your surgical participation, or your money. If you are interested in hair follicle banking you have to understand that while the storage process may be available, the dermal papilla replication and reintroduction is not. It is expected to be possible in the future but as of this writing, there is no published timeline and no proof as to efficacy.
The Reality Today
The problem with hair follicle banking is that it is being confused by many with hair cloning or follicle multiplication. That is nowhere near what hair banking offers, or at least not yet. Hair banking currently only has the focus on eventually replicating the dermal papilla cells discussed earlier and if you go to the hairclone.me website you'll see that follicular "neogenesis" is not mentioned as being a current offering. In fact, the website specifically states that follicular neogenesis is hopeful in a future version of their product. As it stands, all they hope to do in the near future is to inject replicated dermal papilla cells to rejuvenate still growing hairs that are merely miniaturized. This is a FAR way away from neogenesis. In case you don't know what follicular neogenesis is, it will involve injection of replicated cells into a completely bald scalp with the goal of growing new hair, not rejuvenating still growing hairs. This is referred to my many as "hair multiplication" and by some as "cloning".
Hair Transplant Mentor™ does not believe this to be an urgent issue for anyone considering their future hair loss options. Hair banking sounds great in theory, but the science on the business model depends on anecdotal evidence of follicular decay that occurs with age. The concern is stated to be that the viability of cells for the replication process degrades thus making the replication process itself more difficult than if the cells were from a younger patient. This may or may not be true, but it is very inconclusive. Some would argue that it can't hurt to be proactive, to which I normally agree, but remember that in order to be proactive in this case means that you've having a surgical procedure, and contrary to what many will tell you, minor or not surgery is still surgery and all applicable warnings apply.