Roy Woelke knows how overwhelming hair loss can be.
"It's been 30 years of concern," Woelke said. "I noticed thinning in my late 20s, and it never stops. It seems like it just goes on and on."
Woelke has had three hair replacement surgeries, but that's really just moving hair around the head and, as he said, you run out of supply.
Dr. Kenneth Williams, a hair restoration surgeon at Orange County Hair Restoration in Los Angeles, may have new hope for Woelke and millions of others. He's running a clinical trial that uses stem cells and platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, to treat baldness.
"The study is taking cells that are in our body that help to regenerate or stimulate inactive or dormant hair follicles. That is the theory behind what we're doing this procedure on," Williams explained.
Williams takes fat from the abdomen, emulsifies it and separates the stem cells, mixes it with the patient's own plasma, which has been spun down to be super concentrated. Then, with 300 shots, he injects the mixture into the scalp, twice over a three-month period.
Woelke said he hopes to get into the trial, which has five participants so far. Williams already does the procedure for paying patients who've had promising results.
"Those patients are seeing some differences in the density of the hair," Williams said. "We're waiting for the final results, which take nine to 12 months after the administration. We look to see the final results of what we're doing."
Williams hopes to publish results in two years.
Williams' trial is supported by National Institutes of Health, but not by a major pharmaceutical company yet. That means his trial is patient-funded, meaning they'll pay a reduced cost of the $2,500 to $5,800 procedure, depending on which arm of the trial is chosen.
Contact the Irvine Institute of Medicine and Cosmetic Surgery at 949-333-2999 or visit straandstudy.com for more information.