Hair transplants using synthetic hair have been around for a long time without making a real impression. Why is that? And are things about to change anytime soon?
Anyone For Hair Fibres?
You can see why the idea came about. Sparsely haired men turning up at transplant clinics woefully short of enough follicles to make a treatment successful, combined with a heartfelt desire on the part of the clinic not to turn away a wannabe client. So it was that some started out trying to insert hair that was made of something other than hair. This was the best part of 50 years ago and the choice for material was extremely limited, compared to today. Those used, polyester; polyacrylic; modacrylic, were at best unsuitable and caused issues. Clients complained of a range of negative reactions, sometimes months after treatment, that included inflammation and infections as well as scarring and damage to existing hair. Worse, many complained that the transplanted hairs (lets call them that) looked odd and made the client look like they were wearing a wig.
In fact, so many problems were reported that the US FDA, not necessarily known for aggressive regulation, banned the use of synthetic hair in transplants back in 1983. They reviewed, following petitions by manufacturers, in 2017 but the situation remains unchanged and the products remained banned.
A New Approach
An Italian company called Medicap developed their own version of synthetic hairs called BioFibre and seem to be the leading player in the field. In 1996 they got CE approval for the use of their product on human scalps. Also in 1996 they got the same approval in Australia. The difference with the Medicap product, and the reason they were able to get the EU to revisit their rules, is that the hairs are biocompatible with the client’s own skin. There have been a couple of studies with patients reporting “satisfying results” though around 10% reported side effects – which, according to the report, were “easily controlled by either topical or systemic treatment within 8 to 10 days.”
HIS Hair Clinic
We are yet to see the cost of a synthetic transplant but recognise their shortcomings, these fibres are exposed to the elements meaning damage and infection are a permanent possibility. Up to 20% of the fibres will need to be replaced each year because of this… something to be factored into the cost of ownership.
It would seem, with the advance of technology, that synthetic hair might be about to come into the mainstream. We will continue to watch closely.
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