Hair restoration advancements mean patients have more options than ever to achieve an attractive, full head of hair. Innovations in surgical techniques and biological adjuncts have come a long way in recent years. When used in combination with hair surgery, biological adjuncts can significantly contribute to dense, healthy hair.
Hair restoration has changed tremendously since I began practicing over 20 years ago. There's been steady significant progress in both the science and the art of hair restoration. Today we offer procedures that we couldn't even imagine 20 years ago. A lot of that has to do with advances in surgical technique, but more recently in the last two, three, four years the significant innovations have been what I refer to as biological adjuncts that have been developed that we use in conjunction with the surgical therapy.
For example, one of those is that we are using a very highly-engineered holding solution so that when we take the grafts out of the body they go into a solution that contains a number of substances that support the integrity of the cells of the tissue during the time that it's out-of-body.
Another innovation which is very exciting is the development of liposomal ATP. Liposomes are little manufactured tiny fat droplets that can migrate in and out of cells, so it's possible to put medications in these liposomes and then we can actually deliver medication inside the cells. What we're delivering with ATP is the primary fuel of all cellular metabolisms, adenosine triphosphate. We put that liposomal ATP into the holding solution, and then for the first four days after the procedure the patient sprays onto the scalp where we placed the grafts.
What we're doing with that is we're supporting normal cellular metabolism in the grafts during that first four days. What is the benefit? It promotes very rapid healing and it promotes an earlier and more abundant growth of hair in the grafted area.
Another significant biological adjunct that we're using is a combination of platelet-rich plasma and ACell, which is an acellular matrix, mixing those and injecting them into the scalp at the time of the hair transplantation. What we're doing here is that we're augmenting the body's natural healing processes through this, and this results once again in very, very rapid healing, much faster than we used to see, and also it's having effects on the ultimate outcome of the transplant in terms of the fullness that is there.
I think that these developments are really a portend of what's going to be coming in the immediate future in our field, where we'll see other types of agents that can be used to support the transplanting process. There is a lot of research going on regarding stem cells, and also the ability to clone hair follicles in the laboratory. I don't know how long it's going to take before those will become available in our clinical practice, but there's very serious investigative work going on and we hope that we'll see these technologies actually come into the office within the next few years.
One of the primary constrictions we have in what we're able to do for patients with hair restoration surgery is that we have a finite amount of donor follicles, and when balding is extensive we don't really have enough donor follicles to fully restore the area of balding to optimal or ideal density. The promise of the ability to affect stem cells and to be able to clone hair follicles is that we're going to be able to expand that supply and be able to treat patients that we cannot now treat and be able to treat patients that we're now treating even more successfully than we are at this point.
Our practice, I think, is widely recognized as one of the practices in the world that really always has a reputation of staying abreast of the latest developments and technologies in the field. I served as the president of the American Board of Hair Restoration, I served as the scientific chairman of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, and I'm currently editor of The Hair Transplant Forum International, which is the primary professional journal in our specialty field. As an editor of that journal, I have to keep abreast of every development that's happening all around the world, and I often have access to information before others do.
It isn't always best to be a rapid adapter, but I think we always try to make the best judgment about when we've seen enough evidence for a technology to suggest that it will add something to the practice, and then we evaluate it in our own hands to be sure that it's of value, and if it is, then we'll add it to what we're doing.