THE BLOG

Restoring the Hair of our Heroes

01/06/2014 12:07 pm ET | Updated Mar 08, 2014

Hair transplant surgery has come a long way since the days of plugs. I initially entered the field of hair restoration after seeing how great my father looked after his hair transplant about 10 years ago. His transformation appeared so natural, I immediately wanted to learn more about the technology that made his hair look so great.

After years of meticulous research and thousands of procedures, I have pioneered stem cell therapy for hair growth and refined the art of hair restoration surgery to individual follicle transplant. I founded the New England Center for Hair Restoration eight years ago, which has been a fulfilling and exciting journey.

But nothing has been more fulfilling than my recent collaboration with the Healing Heroes Network, where I help restore the hair of United States veterans suffering from head scars during battle. Scar tissue on the head typically prevents new hair from growing, leaving those who suffer burns during battle with noticeable bald spots on their head. Hair restoration surgery is a simple option, which can greatly enhance the cosmetic appearance of these scarred areas.

The opportunity to work with Healing Heroes Network has been a unique chance for me to give back. Generally, people would not consider an aesthetic procedure to play much of a role in a soldier's return to civilian life but after much time analyzing men's hair loss, talking with patients and working with veterans it turns out to be the opposite. Hair loss and disfigurement can be an ongoing source of stress for anyone who experiences it, and these problems are compounded for our returning veterans. Anything we can do to help reduce stress and help our veterans enjoy civilian life better will lead to better post deployment acclimation and overall happiness.

I have treated veterans who have experienced worsening of their ongoing male pattern hair loss due to PTSD or other post-deployment stresses. A number of biological and psychological aspects factor into hair loss under any circumstance. Veterans who have experienced the stress of battle are therefore all the more likely to suffer further from ongoing loss of hair due to stress. Although ongoing treatment of PTSD or other psychological conditions contributing to ongoing stress remains paramount, the treatment of hair loss can significantly restore confidence and help reduce stress for the veteran.

Hair restoration surgery need not be painful and from the patient's perspective can seem relatively simple; but from the surgeon's perspective, restoration can be challenging, especially if you want the end result to look natural. My preferred surgical method for the soldier is a very detailed method called Micro Follicular Unit Extraction, or, for short, Micro-FUE. During the process we use a very small punch, 0.75 mm, to extract the follicular unit, which in turns leaves hardly any scar tissue in the donor area. We also employ a highly technical method known as Sub-FUE, whereby using the same Micro-FUE technique, only a portion of the follicular unit is harvested, leaving part of the hair in the scalp to grow again, essentially reproducing hair in the process. This leaves the donor area more intact for future growth, and avoids over harvesting of the donor area.

In addition, the technology continues to advance to provide cellular techniques for enhancing transplanted hair growth and reducing surgical scarring. I have been using cell-mediated therapies such as PRP (platelet rich plasma) and commercial growth factors to help our clients grow more hair and have better surgical outcomes for years. More recently, I have been researching the use of stem cells derived from adipose (fat) tissue and their role in growing hair. Our veterans deserve the highest level of technology possible, and my association with the Healing Heroes Network has made giving that high level of care possible.