The search for the most effective therapy to reverse hair loss and rejuvenate the skin is still underway. One popular fad after another hits the market before a definitive conclusion can be made about whether that therapy is worth the hype. The fact that exosome therapy has been in the talks for delivering impressive hair growth with no reported adverse events makes this therapy an attractive avenue to explore. Let's see the science behind it and whether it is worthwhile for you to venture into.
Topical exosomes are considered safe in humans on intact skin; however, data on the safety of injectable exosomes is still lacking.
There are currently no FDA-approved exosome products for medical indications.
We need more clinical studies with proper regulatory guidelines for its safe and effective use.
What is exosome therapy?
While the name might make it seem too sophisticated for the ignorant, the term exosomes refers to nano-sized extracellular vesicles that can be isolated and purified from different sources such as blood, urine, breast milk, saliva, urine, umbilical cord bile cells, and mesenchymal stem cells. These tiny carriers outside the cell have been found to have a potential role in modulating the hair growth cycle. They are considered one of the emerging therapies for patients with alopecia.
In recent years, researchers have made significant progress in understanding and decoding the various interactions and signaling pathways that mediate hair growth and the effect of different products on these pathways by transferring exosomes. This has led to an increasing focus on the ability of exosomes to generate the impact that might help with hair loss, hair restoration, and skin rejuvenation.
However, the use of exosomes does not stop with hair regeneration. Due to the presence of many bioactive compounds, they have been found to exert anti-inflammatory effects, which help repair and regenerate the skin. This has led to its use in reducing complications associated with poor wound repair and prolonged inflammation, as seen in burns and other skin disorders.
Use in hair regeneration
It has been found that injecting exosomes and other growth factors can stop further hair loss and help with the regeneration and regrowth of hair loss for both men and women. They are believed to prolong the hair growth cycle by shifting the hair from its resting state (telogen phase) to the growth phase (anagen phase).
A review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found various preclinical studies showing the benefits of using exosome therapeutics to treat hair loss. These are laboratory studies before the product is launched into the market. However, various clinical trials that tested exosome therapy on humans failed to conclusively show its efficacy and safety for treating alopecias.
Exosome therapy for aesthetics
While still in its infancy, exosome therapy is now being leveraged in regenerative and aesthetic medicine due to its ability to target and correct the root causes of aging and improve the overall environment of the cells and tissues for optimal functioning.
A systematic review studied all published trials on using exosomes in aesthetic medicine and cosmetic surgery. What were the results? Well, topical exosomes are considered safe in humans on intact skin, although the methods of isolation and sourcing are variable. However, the current published research literature must provide a clear consensus on the long-term use of exosomes for skin rejuvenation or hair restoration. The studies have yet to clearly outline which patients would benefit the most from this technology.
How does it work and what to expect?
Exosomes and growth factors are typically injected into the target area, similar to how platelet-rich plasma is delivered. Studies have found that products containing more than 200 billion exosomes are an excellent quantity to cause regeneration of hair growth. Exosomes are believed to be present at least 6 to 8 months after the final treatment.
You may find claims that exosome therapy may show hair growth within two to three months. However, it is wise to remember that each hair cycle lasts for three months, and to see any visible effects, it will take at least 6–9 months. The visibility of new hair growth will continue and should be ideally assessed at least one year after obtaining consistent treatment. If you are considering getting an exosome treatment session, it is worth keeping a few things in mind:
- Stop NSAIDs. Stop the consumption of any NSAIDs at least 72 hours before the session and for four days after the last session.
- Prepare for discomfort. No blood will be drawn for this procedure, but exosomes will be injected into the scalp or the treatment area of choice. Be prepared for minor discomfort and tenderness in the local area.
- Stay hydrated and fed. It is preferable to keep yourself hydrated and have a hearty breakfast before you go for the procedure.
No known side effects or adverse reactions have been reported specific to using exosomes. However, more extensive clinical trials and long-term follow-up studies currently need to be made available to know for sure.
Today, exosomes are considered promising biomarkers for diagnosing and prognosis of various skin diseases. However, their role in treating skin disorders and reversing hair loss, whether as drug carriers or as drugs themselves, still needs to be more conclusive. There are currently no FDA-approved exosome products for medical indications, and we need more clinical studies with proper regulatory guidelines and outlines for its safe and effective use.
- Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Exosome therapy in hair regeneration: A literature review of the evidence, challenges, and future opportunities.
- Skinmed. Exosomes: A New Effective Non-Surgical Therapy for Androgenetic Alopecia?
- Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. A systematic review of exosome treatment in hair restoration: Preliminary evidence, safety, and future directions.
- Cells. Exosomes: A Promising Strategy for Repair, Regeneration and Treatment of Skin Disorders.
- Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Role of exosomes in skin diseases.