This following article was written by Coalition hair restoration physician Dr. William Lindsey and posted on our Hair Restoration Social Community and Discussion Forums.
I have written this in response to a few folks asking why I’m not on the extracellular matrix (ECM)/ACell bandwagon. I’m all in favor of improving our hair restoration results, but need to see the science actually done, rather than anecdotal reports. When the science is there, if something warrants adding to my armamentarium, I’ll do so.
At this time however my reason for not offering these options are because controlled scientific studies done in a reproducible manner have not been published.
Anecdotal results, whether from ECM proteins, laser light, or dietary herbs, are of little use until scientifically proven. That’s not to say one can’t go out and spend money on them and possibly get a result…one can. But until it’s shown to have some effect for good, in scientifically done studies, published in a peer-reviewed medical journal it’s all guesswork.
Most doctors have large egos and would love to publish ground-breaking scientific information in a reputable peer-reviewed journal. So far, lasers for treating hair loss have been around a decade and I have yet to see a peer reviewed journal show a clinical result from them. Hence, I don’t offer laser hair loss therapy. But, others do, and some patients feel that they have had success. Unfortunately, in any given week I see 5 patients who have spent what they’d consider a fortune on unproven hair loss treatments and all they have to show for it is a depleted bank account and no hair growth.
Finally, in the 4 years that I was an assistant professor at the University of Virginia, most of my research was on the use of extracellular matrix proteins to repair facial defects. In the course of this research, I published a number of papers on the use of ECM, won a grant and Triological Society research award for the topic and was the first in the world to report gene therapy to repair facial defects. I would venture to guess that this makes me more knowledgeable about ECM than most folks.
While I no longer do basic scientific research now that I’m not at a university, I would say that, to date, I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that ECM’s have merit in hair transplant surgery for the “average” patient. I do strongly support and look forward to scientific investigation into their potential help, but will refrain from offering it until the science is more suggestive of a clinical result.
For the record though, in the brief snippets that I’ve seen of Dr. Cooley’s work, I do think he is on to something and I look forward to seeing his work continue and hopefully seeing these technologies change our field for the better.
Dr. William H. Lindsey MD FACS