Blog, Hair Transplant

Why a Hair Transplant is Superior to Micro-Grafting

In aesthetics, there are a few subjects that remain highly contentious, and hair loss is one of them. Most of my patients and even fellow doctors in the industry would know that I do not believe in conventional hair loss treatments such as oral medication, and a hair transplant should be the top or if not the only option you should consider.

Why? Many oral medications only control the issue temporarily and do not treat hair loss long term. They also come with side effects and may not be safe for everyone. Yet, most people would still rather waste time and money on such treatments than opt for a hair transplant, the ONLY permanent hair loss solution for male and female pattern hair loss.

Recently, I’ve been asked for my opinion on Regenera Activa, a popular new method frequently advertised to be a better alternative to a hair transplant. Some advertisements have even gone as far as to say that Regenera Activa can replace a hair transplant — but I beg to differ.

Due to Regenera Activa’s rapid rise in popularity, many are actually unaware of this method’s poor results and potential dangers that have been documented in clinical studies. Allow me to shed some light on Regenera Activa and explain why a hair transplant is still superior. 

What is Regenera Activa?

Regenera Activa is a hair growth treatment in which autologous micrografts are harvested from the back of your scalp and then injected into areas of hair loss. These micro grafts help repair and regenerate your scalp, and are believed to stimulate hair growth and strengthen existing hair follicles. 

As Regenera Activa is based on the recovery of alive and hypo-functioning hair follicles, it is usually recommended for patients with Grade I to III hair loss. In other words, Regenera Activa is commonly marketed as a hair loss treatment for individuals who: 

  • Do not wish to go through surgery (i.e. hair transplant) and its associated downtime 
  • Do not have hair loss that’s ‘severe’ enough to consider a hair transplant (the irony is those with severe hair loss actually cannot qualify for a hair transplant, but more on this later)
  • Have local hair loss only 

On top of that, Regenera Activa is also frequently advertised as the “safer” and more “efficient”, “minimally invasive” alternative to hair transplant. 

But is it really that safe?

Controversy regarding Regenera Activa

Clinical studies have shown that Regenera Activa can trigger an autoimmune response. Let’s take the case of this 45-year-old man who developed alopecia areata —a form of autoimmune hair loss— 4 weeks after his procedure. It was found that an alopecic patch first developed on the left frontal injection site, which gradually spread to cover 60% of his scalp, right eyebrow and beard.

Regnera Activa
Regnera Activa

Such cases are not uncommon, and it is believed that such micrograft injections can expose the immune privileged sites and trigger an autoimmune response. Hence, more doctors are starting to avoid these injections as more autoimmune issues surface. 
Now let’s talk about the results of Regenera Activa. Given all the potential risks, it simply doesn’t work. But don’t just take it from me and what I’ve heard from my patients and colleagues — I’ll let the multiple poor reviews online do the talking.

Does Regenera Activa Treatment work
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Regenera Activa vs hair transplant: Which is better for me?

Many think Regenera Activa and hair transplant are pretty similar, but they are actually quite different! 

Regenera ActivaHair Transplant
Mode of MechanismBoost pre-existing hair folliclesTransplant active hair follicles (usually from back of scalp) to bald areas
Number of sessions requiredOnce a year, maintenance sessions required1-2 sessions lifetime depending on patient
Are the results permanent?NoYes
SuitabilityFor patients with hair loss stages up to Norwood IV and Ludwig IIFor patients with hair loss stages up to Norwood VII and Ludwig III
Areas it can work on Does not work on areas with a receding hairline or bald areasCan work on scar areas, receding hairlines and bald areas
Price$3,000-$5,000 per session$6,000-$15,000 for a one-time procedure
Does it require a doctor with special training in hair?NoYes, only doctors trained in hair transplant that’s approved by the Singapore Medical Council can perform this procedure

As I mentioned earlier, most conventional hair loss treatments are not permanent and only control hair loss temporarily. This makes Regenera Activa one of them; it requires yearly maintenance sessions and thus will be way more expensive in the long run. Why go through all that trouble WITHOUT the guarantee of not facing hair loss problems again in future?

In my opinion, a condition like hair loss should be salvaged as early as possible, and a one-time procedure like a hair transplant can fix the issue once and for all. 

Is a hair transplant safe?

Many patients are averse to the idea of a hair transplant as they have the misconception that it’s a large surgical procedure that’s highly invasive. In fact, hair transplant by FUE is actually a minor surgical procedure and the risks of anything going south are few and far between, especially in Singapore. 

However, some minor risks can occur if your technician lacks experience. As an experienced hair technician who has performed more than 500 hair transplant cases runs extremely rare, this is a serious point of consideration. These side effects include: 

  • Bleeding 
  • Pour wound healing
  • Infection 
  • Scarring 

In addition, the survivability of your transplanted hairs depends on more than just the skills and experience of your surgeon and technician, the hardware utilised by the team also plays an important role. This refers to things like the surgical equipment and solution utilised to preserve viability of hair grafts. 

While it is a minor surgery, hair transplant is still a complex, multi-step procedure. The following phases need to be executed properly with high precision to increase the survival rates of your hair grafts to 99%:

Extraction phase

Extracting the hair follicles in the same direction as your hair would greatly reduce any trauma the hair graft and donor site experiences.

Implantation phase

Preserving extracted hair follicles properly during the transplant and then implanting them at the ideal depth on your scalp will go a long way in ensuring a high survival rate. Implanting the hair grafts too shallowly can cause them to fall off within the first 2 weeks, and implanting them too deeply can reduce blood supply from the scalp. 

As such, it is very important that you choose a surgeon with a successful track record in performing hair transplants. 

On your end, you should also take proper care of your hair after the surgery to reduce the chance of infection and implanted hairs falling off. I recommend strictly avoiding the following the first month after your procedure: 

  • Tugging your hair especially when washing 
  • Blasting water directly on your scalp
  • Scratching the scabs off your scalp 
  • Dyeing your hair 
  • Swimming 
  • Excessive sun exposure 
  • Drinking alcohol and smoking

Can I combine both treatments?

Technically, you can; it is not uncommon for patients to do both treatments synergistically. However, given all I have said regarding the poor results and potential risks of Regenera Activa, I do not recommend this treatment, alone or in combination. If you are still really keen, please consult a doctor who is aware of the dangers of Regenera Activa and familiar with the hair transplant procedure. 

I have seen many patients who jumped on the Regenera Activa bandwagon before considering a hair transplant, when they could have avoided wasting all that money in the first place. My advice is to consult a reliable doctor who has vast knowledge of all the different ways to treat hair loss, and is familiar with the pros and cons of each method, so that he can advise you on the best next steps for you. 

Remember that in order to be a suitable candidate for a hair transplant, you need to have a healthy donor site with sufficient hair follicles in the first place. You may feel a false sense of assurance that your baldness won’t keep getting worse, but it is impossible to predict hair loss without a professional diagnosis. Don’t make the mistake of waiting till your hair loss gets to a point that you “need a hair transplant” — by then it might be too late!

References

  1. Toshima, S., Kurihara, Y., Wang, E., Nomura, H., Hayashi, Y., & Christiano, A. et al. (2019). Alopecia areata multiplex following autologous dermal micrograft injection for treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Journal Of The European Academy Of Dermatology And Venereology, 33(11). https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.15701
  2. Gentile, P., Scioli, M. G., Cervelli, V., Orlandi, A., & Garcovich, S. (2020). Autologous Micrografts from Scalp Tissue: Trichoscopic and Long-Term Clinical Evaluation in Male and Female Androgenetic Alopecia. BioMed research international, 2020, 7397162. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/7397162
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