Futuremed Clinic concentrates the unique experience of six generations of doctors from the Vetter medical dynasty. Its founders, a father and son team, in trying to rethink the traditional approach to the functioning of a medical institution, gathered a team of highly qualified specialists and brought plastic surgery to a fundamentally new level. Their combination of aesthetic and traditional medicine is a solid-gold guarantee of a successful result. SHM talked to Dr. Sebastian Vetter about the problem of hair loss and modern methods of treatment, a topic relevant not only to men but also to women.
— Dr. Vetter, what does your clinic specialize in primarily?
— A combination of aesthetic and plastic surgeries and therapeutic medicine. You will rarely see this combination elsewhere, although it is a very logical approach. If you think about it, plastic surgery means surgery for which there is no medical reason. It is one thing is to take risks when you have no choice and you can improve your condition only with surgical intervention but quite another when your operation is not vital. In this case, you need to explain to the patient a thousand times what will be done to him or her and how and give guarantees that everything will go perfectly. A voluntary operation should be based on 100 percent safety. This became our basic principle.
— What methods and approaches in the treatment of patients with hair problems do you suggest?
– With age, people begin to lose their hair. It is a natural ageing process. Hair falls out due to the effect of harmful substances on the scalp or when the body absorbs toxins. We use different methods of hair restoration in our clinic. One of the most effective is hair transplantation from a healthy scalp to those areas where the hair has fallen out or no longer grows at all.
The second method is the regeneration of the skin on the scalp. Here it is possible to inject blood plasma extract from the patient him or herself, or to employ the new method of using stem cells of adipose tissue.
But before deciding which method to use, we conduct a full examination of the patient. After all, baldness can be the result of many medical factors.
— It’s that combination of aesthetic and therapeutic medicine which you discussed earlier, isn’t it?
— You are absolutely right. It makes no sense to waste time and money on procedures if the hair is going to fall out again, so first we find out the reason for it. After all, there are many factors that affect hair loss. Among them are stress, environmental pollution, and even the constantly increasing level of female hormones in drinking water and in food, which contributes to hair loss in men.
— Why is the level of female hormones in water and food products increasing? What is the reason for this?
— Imagine how many young women are taking birth control pills. Water from the sewers goes to treatment plants, then gets into rivers, groundwater and, eventually, returns back to the water supply. But today there is no sewage treatment plant that is able to filter out female hormones; therefore, their levels in our water is constantly increasing.
— What are the stages of treatment?
First, we take a blood test and a sample from the skin of the head and examine the hair itself. Based on the results, we offer the optimum method of treatment.
Quite often, before transplantation, we inject the patient’s own blood plasma, which is saturated with platelets. The PRP (platelet rich plasma) method is far from new — it has been around for more than 20 years. However, recent studies have shown that the higher the platelet content in the injected blood, the more effective the process of hair regeneration. Therefore, if we have a man with slight hair loss, then, perhaps, injections with blood plasma will be enough for him. This method stimulates even the sleeping follicles and the hair begins to grow. If you select the right quantity of platelets with the PRP method, then the scalp can regenerate so that the person’s own hair pigment will be restored; that is, grey hair will disappear. Thus, it is even possible to restore the natural color!
By the way, reaction in women to the PRP method is much better than in men and, therefore, the result is much more noticeable. We are currently investigating this phenomenon.
— You mentioned injections with stem cells of adipose tissue. How do they affect restoration of the scalp?
— Adipose tissue is not only an energy store, but also a «habitat» of stem cells. It has hundreds of times more stem cells than the bone marrow. To obtain these cells, the patient is treated with conventional liposuction — the extraction of fat cells, usually a minimum of 150 ml. From this, we can get up to 10 million cells. The process takes about half an hour. We send the tissue to the Swiss Centre for Stem Cells. There, they separate out the stem cells. Two days later, we can use them to regenerate hair, injecting them into the skin. The entire process lasts at least four hours. With this injection, you can achieve new hair growth on 20–30% of the scalp. This is one of the newest methods, which, besides being effective in itself, also gives us the opportunity to prepare the skin for transplantation, if necessary. It is also used if a person does not have enough places from which to take hair for transplantation.
— Does this procedure give a 100% successful result?
— It all depends on the patient’s state of health. The age of the patient is also important: unfortunately, stem cells age as we age and they lose their potential. But in any case, it cannot be guaranteed that the hair will grow back. If the patient is over 50, sometimes it is not possible to regenerate the growth of all the hair over just one course of treatment. But each injection reduces the number of bald patches by 30–40%.
— And if this is not enough you carry out a transplantation, don’t you?
— Yes, that remains the most effective means. We take photos and mark the places where the hair loss is most marked, in order to plan the transplantation more precisely. After the operation, our main task is to ensure that the transplanted hair survives and does not stand out among its «brothers», and can be kept for as long as possible.
— How long does this procedure last and how difficult is it for the patient? Does he or she need anesthesia?
— The operation time depends on the amount of hair that needs to be transplanted. Large transplants involve the transplantation of 1,000 hairs or more. The longest procedure we have done was when we had to transplant more than 5,000 follicles. It’s impossible to do this in one day. In this case, the procedures took two sessions of 13 hours each.
Prolonged anesthesia is not used here because it adversely affects human health, but we can give the patient a sleeping pill and he will safely sleep through this period. This is not for anesthesia, since the transplantation process takes place under local anesthesia. The procedure itself can be tiring for the patient. Therefore, many prefer to sleep through the whole operation.
— How many doctors work with a patient during the operation?
— The team consists of a surgeon and two nurses. They sort the hairs by length, quality, and location and examine them under the microscope, and the doctor introduces the hair into the scalp.
I want to warn those who decide on transplantation about two things. First, you have to cut your hair short. During the treatment, the use of shampoo is prohibited, so this complicates the care of longer hair. Secondly, after the transplantation an edema appears, which lasts about three days. Although it is temporary and absolutely safe, it is better that the patient does not stray far from the clinic during this time.
— And when will the patient be able to see the first results of the transplant?
— It is very individual. Immediately after the procedure, you will be able to see new hair, but some roots will not yet have settled completely. Therefore, hair loss will continue for a period of several weeks to two or three months. But at the same time, new hair will grow in the place of the lost hair. The patient will see the final result of the transplant three or six months after the procedure.
— Does this hair remain forever? Will it fall out again?
— Hair for transplantation is usually taken from the back of the head and there the hair is very strong. Therefore it survives for a long time: at least twenty or thirty years.
— The problem of baldness is more typical for men, right?
— No, this is a misconception. In women, cicatrical alopecia is often observed, when in some areas the scalp begins to cicatrize and hair falls out in these places.
It is often caused by genetic diseases. In addition, due to stress or negative environmental impact, the number of male hormones decreases in women and bald patches appear as in men. Sometimes this leads to complete baldness. In such cases, stem cell injections are much more effective for women than for men.
– Why do women and men react differently to treatment? Surely you must have an answer to this question.
— In principle, it can be explained as follows: I think that women preserve in themselves the strength of many generations, so they have more saturated blood. The female body is much stronger than the male and is less susceptible to damage; it is, so to say, more harmonious than the male, and therefore it can regenerate better. But we still need to understand this and to carry out more research. Then I will be able to answer this question more precisely.
— It’s good that you deal with aesthetic issues in such a responsible way. It is clear why patients choose your clinic. You give people hope based on experience and new technology but also offer an extremely respectful attitude towards a patient at the same time.
— I am especially happy to hear that, since I come from a long line of doctors. My father is a famous therapist; he has headed the therapeutic department at the University Hospital in Zurich for a long time. Of course, we often discuss various medical topics, including general health problems in Switzerland. We have come to the conclusion that we need a different approach to our medical practices. In my opinion, intuition and professional flair, based on which our predecessors could make an accurate diagnosis without high-tech devices, are very important. I respect doctors with great experience who are able to ‘sense’ the patient. Therefore, in our clinic we brought together those doctors with whom we had worked at the University Hospital. However, we refused to accept all of the classical solutions that are associated with the hospital. The main difference is that we present ourselves not as a clinic, but rather as a center for maintaining good health, using a scientific approach combined with traditional medicine.
I think our establishment is the only one of its kind in Switzerland. Patients feel very comfortable here. On one hand, they can rest and enjoy themselves, and on the other hand, they are provided with high-quality medical care.
About the Clinic
Futuremed AG Clinic is a specialized center for cosmetic and plastic surgery.
A highly qualified team of doctors and specialists, rich in knowledge and experience, meet the most demanding aesthetic requests from customers and get the best results.
The clinic specializes in the following operations, which are in great demand: body contouring, body-shape enhancement (abdominal plastic – abdominal lift, abdominal surgery, hand lifting, liposuction, «Brazilian buttocks», laser plastic, etc.); plastic surgery on the breasts (increase or decrease in volume, lifting, restoring the shape, etc.), on the eyelids (blepharoplasty, etc.), facelifts (rhytidectomy); surgery for nose correction (rhinoplasty), etc.; minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, botox injections, fillers; and cosmetic procedures for face care and rejuvenation.
In addition, the clinic provides qualified treatment of various diseases, for example: dermatology (acne, psoriasis, eczema); laser treatment, removal of various defects such as acne scars, age spots, and tattoos; and hair treatment and hair restoration.
Doctor of Medicine. He is a specialist in the field of regenerative and anti-ageing medicine, as well as plastic, restorative and aesthetic surgery. He graduated from the Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich, where he defended his thesis to become a Doctor of Medical Sciences. In 2005, he was awarded the qualification of Surgeon at the Swiss Institute for Advanced Studies and Postgraduate Education (Bern). In 2009, he was appointed the Director of the Research Department at Irvine University in Los Angeles. In 2012, he passed the examination to be a specialist in plastic surgery. In 2015, he founded Futuremed Clinic in Zurich, and since then he has been its permanent head. He is a member of the International Union of Anti-Ageing Medicine.