Question: I'm looking into getting a hair transplant and want to be prepared about aftercare and what I need to use to keep up the results from my surgery. I want to get my receding hairline filled in and understand I need to keep using hair loss treatment after but I'm confused about the difference between ATP spray and minoxidil - are they the same thing? Or do you use both or one, and if it's just one, which is best?
Answer: Hi, David. ATP spray and minoxidil are different products but there is a scientific connection between the two.
High strength minoxidil is a topical vasodilator that is MHRA-licensed in the UK and FDA-approved in America for the treatment of genetic hair loss in both men and women ie. Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Liposomal adenosine triphosphate spray, often referred to as just ATP spray, is used after a hair transplant to aid healing and improve the chances of the grafts taking properly.
After hair restoration surgery the scalp will be tender and raw from the incisions, as well as in the donor areas where the implanted hairs were taken from.
Although minoxidil-users will understand they need to use this treatment consistently, it cannot be applied to broken skin so is unsuitable for use after a hair transplant until the scalp has properly healed. This is where the liposomal ATP spray comes in.
The actions of minoxidil and ATP are linked in that minoxidil is transformed into minoxidil sulfate in the hair follicle which then stimulates the sulfonylurea receptor (SUR) into releasing adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
This ATP is then turned into adenosine and appears to spark the hair follicles' dermal papilla cells' adenosine receptors into producing vascular endothelial cells, resulting in hair growth.
Liposomal ATP is generally used for the first 48 hours following hair transplant surgery to help improve the grafts' chances of survival. It is not recommended as a hair loss treatment outside of this.
When the donor hairs are replanted, they have no natural blood or oxygen supplies and ATP spray is believed to increase the supply of both to the follicles, as well as maintaining the cells' health in order to make them more viable. This, therefore, can give them a better chance of taking and aiding scalp recovery through skin healing.
Sometimes the liposomal ATP spray will also involve copper peptides as these have been seen to help push the transplanted follicles into the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, where they start actively growing. You can find out more about this in an article from the Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology from 2015, called Hair restoration surgery: challenges and solutions.
It is worth noting that 'ATP treatment' can actually have two meanings in relation to hairloss. In addition to it being the use of liposomal ATP spray outlined above, it can also refer to Advanced Tricho Pigmentation. This is a type of medical grade scalp tattooing that uses dots in a number of shades to create the illusion of a crew cut. It is also known as micropigmentation and is a method of concealing hair loss rather than treating it.
In order to help you with your research into what exactly is involved in getting a hair transplant, including preparation and aftercare, we recommend you visit as many different well-respected, experienced and licensed surgeons who specialise in this area, as you can. It is important to find a good fit and a surgeon you feel confident with.
Furthermore, a consultation with a specialist at a hair loss clinic that offers non-surgical treatment options can be useful too. Following a scalp assessment - either in-person or online - personalised recommendations can be made for pre- and post-transplant hair loss solutions, as well as a referral to an accomplished surgeon being made.
It is usually recommended that men wanting to have hair restoration surgery first undergo 6 to 12 months of clinically-proven, pharmaceutical male hair loss treatment. This is because it should stabilise shedding and maximise hair growth, giving the surgeon a cleaner area to work with. It also gives the patient the opportunity to see the levels of regrowth that can be achieved without surgery, so they can then decide if they wish to proceed with the operation, delay or cancel it.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.