By Dr. Alan J. Bauman
Losing your hair can be scary. In fact, hair loss is often cited as one of the biggest concerns associated with aging among both men and women.
So why is hair loss so terrifying? In nearly every culture, hair is associated with youth, sex appeal and good health, which explains why we try so hard to hold onto it.
But there is good news, today, there are medications, advanced therapies and procedures available to treat hair loss at every stage. And while it may sound like something out of a horror story, one of the most promising tools to treating hair is — your blood. While this may conjure up unsettling images of vampires, the treatment is actually simple, quick and highly effective.
How exactly does this new “vampire” therapy breathe new life into failing follicles, and is it right for you? Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, also commonly referred to as “Vampire PRP,” is one of the most promising new treatments to become available for hair loss sufferers.
The procedure itself is fairly easy on the patient. Following a simple blood-draw, the patient’s blood is spun in a special centrifuge with specific kits designed to produce the high-quality PRP – a powerful growth factor “cocktail.” Once activated, platelets release powerful molecules which have profound biologic effects on the hair follicles and skin. Under comfortable local anesthesia, this powerful cocktail of growth factors, cytokines and other proteins is injected into the area of the scalp where weak hair follicles exist. PRP may be enhanced through the use of placental extracellular matrix (ECM) called BioD or another ECM from dried porcine bladder called ACell.
PRP has become one of the most exciting recent breakthroughs in hair restoration, and is not only showing positive results as a stand-alone treatment, it has proved to be a valuable tool during hair transplantation as well. During the transplant process, PRP has been shown to strengthen non-transplanted hair, minimize donor scarring and accelerate wound healing. In addition, PRP has been reported by some hair transplant surgeons to improve graft survival.
In addition to its effectiveness in treating certain types of hair loss, a growing number of patients are drawn to PRP because of its quick and non-invasive nature. This outpatient procedure takes about one hour and requires no downtime for patients, which means you could literally have it performed during your lunch hour. Mild soreness or swelling, if any, resolves in less than a day and when administered correctly and improved hair growth maybe measured in a matter of weeks.
As with all hair loss treatments, PRP is most effective when started early, before the hair follicles have been completely obliterated. The areas of the scalp where the hair follicles are producing hair fibers that are thin, wispy and weak is where PRP holds the greatest potential, and where the therapy can really make a difference. One downside to PRP treatment for hair regrowth is that it does not offer permanent results. Most patients who undergo PRP therapy using BioD require a repeat treatment in about 12 to 24 months. Without extracellular matrix, expect treatments as soon as every other month. It typically takes three months to measure the improvements from PRP using the scientific HairCheck cross-sectional hair bundle trichometry measurement tool. Over time, the PRP treatment may need to be repeated depending on the patient’s response to therapy, hair loss condition and goals.
Patients should note that to achieve optimal results, a multi-therapy approach might be required, depending on the severity of the hair loss and their personal goals. PRP may be used as an adjunct to FDA-approved medications like finasteride and minoxidil, or other therapies like low-level laser therapy, compounded minoxidil, nutritional supplementation and minimally invasive FUE hair transplantation, such as NeoGraft or ARTAS robotic transplants.
5 Scary Truths About Hair Loss
The use of Minoxidil is FDA-approved for hair regrowth and has proven science behind it but the reality is it doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, over-the-counter minoxidil may only work well in about 35 percent of patients, according to medical studies, meaning there is a 65 percent chance standard over-the-counter minoxidil, like Rogaine, won’t help you. Instead, you may require a prescription for a specially formulated, compounded minoxidil solution (like Formula 82M) for optimal results.
By the time hair loss becomes noticeable to the naked eye, about 50 percent of the hair follicles may have already been lost. The earlier patients can get started on preventive or restorative therapies, the better their odds are for retaining a full and healthy hairline.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, by the age of 35, approximately one-third of men will experience some degree of hair loss; and by the age of 50, 50% of men will have significantly thinning hair.
As men age, the risk of losing hair increases, and is proportional to age: 60% in 60s, 70% in 70s, and so on.
Roughly half of all women over the age of 40 suffer from some form of hair loss. That’s right – half. While most people tend to think of hair loss as a man’s problem, the reality is that women are almost just as likely as men to lose their hair.
Medications, laser therapy, PRP, nutritionals, etc. can help make hair follicles grow thicker healthier hair, but once the follicle is dead and gone, the only option for having hair in that area is a hair transplant.
Bauman Medical Group
Hair Transplant and Hair Loss Treatment Center
1450 S Dixie Hwy
Boca Raton FL 33432-7359
Toll Free: 1-877-BAUMAN-9