A little overweight and thinning on top? Move to the head of the line. One of the nation’s top plastic surgeons – located right here in South Miami – is conducting breakthrough research on stem cells for the treatment of hair loss.
“This is cutting-edge stuff,” says Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, MD, FACS, humbly describing the clinical trial now underway at his practice, the Foundation for Hair Restoration and Plastic Surgery. Called STYLE for short, this study is the first FDA-approved study in the U.S. on the use of fat-derived stems cell for the treatment of hair loss in men and women. And although it’s a blind study, meaning some patients will receive a placebo instead of the actual stem-cell injections in their scalp, all subjects will be treated with body liposculpting – at no cost.
“We’ve been talking about this for a while,” says Epstein. “But without any hard evidence, the FDA has refused to approve the procedure in the U.S., where standards are quite stringent – particularly when it comes to stem cells.” The use of stem cells for hair loss has been happening in Europe for about seven years.
“Even though preliminary results with other studies have shown there to be great benefits with stem cells,” he continued, “the FDA wants proof, in the form of large-case volume.”
This is where the Foundation for Hair Restoration and Plastic Surgery comes in, as one of the leading centers for the U.S. study. Epstein was approached recently by Kerastem, a company in California that has been working on this new technology, to serve as a principal investigator. Joined by Dr. Gorana Kuka, a renowned plastic surgeon from Belgrade Serbia, the program will solicit 70 patients by the end of the summer and take about a year to complete.
Epstein says he doesn’t typically participate in clinical trials because he’s very selective – and because he has a very busy practice. “But study-sponsor Kerastem is so highly respected in the field, so it’s a great opportunity to work with them.”
And a busy practice it is. The Considered one of the top five hair-restoration experts in the country, Epstein has performed more than 12,000 surgical procedures on patients from all 50 states and over 80 countries. He works closely with his partner Dr. Tony Bared, MD, FACS, and a team of 11 full-time surgical assistants, managing offices in both New York and Miami. Epstein also serves as an instructor for two aesthetic surgery fellowship programs at his place of training, the University of Miami, and regularly hosts visiting doctors who seek to learn from him.
“We pride ourselves in being at the forefront of new techniques for treating hair loss,” said Epstein. “Perhaps no new therapy in nearly all fields of medicine has received as much attention and hype as the use of stem cells.”
With so much intrigue and interest around stem cells, Epstein offers this explanation: “Simply stated, they are the body’s reserve of cells that can basically do anything.
“Everything stems from stem cells,” he says. “They can become blood cells or tissue cells, they regenerate heart tissue or collagen – and in this case, they hold real promise as being able to regenerate the surrounding tissue that’s for hair follicles.” He notes that the body’s largest supply of stem cells are found in fat as well as bone marrow.
“The promise of this procedure,” Epstein continues, “is a result of processing the fat through liposuction to gather high volumes of stem cells, and then injecting them along with some fat cells into the areas of the hair follicles that have thinned out. This in turn serves to restore growth.”
“It’s really happening,” he adds, “So, men or women, if you are in reasonably good health, have a moderate degree of hair loss, and are overweight by 15 or 20 pounds, you may be a candidate.” Learn more about the clinical trial at http://www.drjeffreyepstein.com/about/stem-cell-hair-loss.
Locally, the Foundation for Hair Restoration and Plastic Surgery is located at the Sunset Professional Building, 6280 Sunset Dr. Suite 504, in Miami, or call 305-666-1774. Also visit http://www.drjeffreyepstein.com/.