Hope for hair loss

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May 1, 2019

Losing your hair is distressing and can profoundly affect the quality of life. Hair loss has multiple causes, including immunologic diseases and chemotherapy, but the most common is androgenetic alopecia. This disease runs in families, and it affects both men and women. Men with this condition, commonly called male pattern baldness, start suffering hair loss as early as their 20s.  Women don't usually get noticeable thinning until their 50-60s, and will experience a general thinning over the entire scalp.

WHAT TREATMENTS ACTUALLY WORK?

Topical treatments, like Minoxidil, are effective and OTC. Minoxidil’s mechanism is unknown, but other topicals such as Revivogen target Dihyrdotestosterone, one of the key components of androgenic alopecia. 

Specific supplements are also effective and there is good data for one called Nutrafol. It has multiple ingredients targeting the androgenic, inflammatory, nutritional, and immune-related components of hair loss.

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) also works by complex biochemical process—which simplified, is like putting a grow lamp on your hair follicles.   The laser energy seems to heal and restart the growth process that has been stopped or altered by stress, disease, injury or even genetics. An excellent study in the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery looked at an Illumiflow type laser cap with 272 diodes, at 650 nm, which was worn every other night for 30 minutes, over four months.  They found a 51% increase in hair counts at the end of the four-month period.

PRP, (Platelet Rich Plasma), also seems to work and it has been used for many years to stimulate hair growth.  Blood is drawn, and spun down to get the platelets which contain growth factors.  These platelets are then re-injected into the scalp where they stimulate previously dormant hair follicles.  However, all PRP is not created equal. You must draw enough blood, 60ml is sufficient, and spin it enough times in the proper tube to get an adequate amount of platelets. An example of this type of system is EmCyte Pure PRP. So be cautions with bargain PRP, as it's likely to be just plasma and not concentrated platelets with growth factors. 

The most effective treatment is probably a combination of all three treatments, but beware of someone offering a quick fix for a complex and difficult problem.