Hair loss is one of the most significant concerns for both men and women and affects over 50 million men and 30 million women each year.1 Male pattern baldness accounts for 95% of hair loss, especially in those over 50 years of age.2 It is estimated that men alone spend nearly $4 billion on hair loss prevention and restoration products annually.
Hair loss can be psychologically distressing and significantly affect one’s quality of life. Fortunately, successful treatment options do exist for many.
What causes hair loss?
Hair loss can result from a variety of factors. For women, putting excessive traction on your hair, like a tightly pulled hairstyle, braids, ponytails, dreadlocks and extensions can become the leading culprit. The most common condition attributed to men’s hair loss is male-pattern baldness. A receding hairline or frontal baldness can lead to gradual thinning and increased balding for years.
Other causes can be connected with childbirth, genetics, illnesses, COVID, stress, thyroid disease, pregnancy, surgery and menopause. Scalp psoriasis or bald patches from autoimmune disorders (alopecia areata) can also lead to hair loss.
What treatment options exist?
Oral and topical medications are available depending on the etiology and causative factors. Topical and oral minoxidil products (sold under a variety of brand names) have been shown to reduce hair loss and stimulate new growth. Oral finasteride has been shown to retard hair loss in over 50% of men taking this medication.3
Low-level light or photobiomodulation devices emit laser or LED light that can stimulate new hair growth. These devices are available with the utilization of laser combs, caps and other equipment for home use.
A surgical option involves hair transplants, either by excising a strip of hair in the back of one’s head or transplanting individual hair plugs from one section of the head to another. This surgery can assist in increasing the hair’s volume and appearance of fullness on one’s scalp.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) extracted from one’s own blood offers another adjunctive therapy. PRP contains growth factors that stimulate hair growth; however, the challenge is getting the growth factors into the hair follicles. PRP combined with microneedling has shown some promising results with repeated treatments. The microneedling creates small, microscopic incisions in the scalp which appear to facilitate the PRP uptake into the hair follicles. However, this treatment is not able to facilitate PRP transfer to every individual hair follicle, so results may vary.
One of the latest technologies which enhances uptake is the Alma TED™. The non-invasive device is an ultrasound-based system with a propriety tip engineered to cause “acoustic cavitation” making the upper skin layer, the stratum corneum, more permeable to topical agents such as growth factors and PRP. The TED system utilizes a hair care formula derived from growth factors and copper tripeptide-1 compounds that stimulate hair growth, regeneration, and rejuvenation while the ultrasonic energy enhances penetration in most of the individual hair follicles on the scalp.
This technology has been clinically validated with over 20 published peer-review articles since 2009. Patients feel a warm sensation from the TED device and a ringing noise throughout the course of the 20-30-minute treatment; there is no pain, needles, discomfort or trauma to the scalp. Three to six treatments are repeated a month apart and can result in thicker, fuller-looking hair with increased shine and strength. Improvements should be noticed after the second treatment and maintenance treatments every 6 to 12 months are helpful in maintaining hair growth.
It is recognized that hair loss is not only a complex medical condition, but can affect every component of an individual’s life. With an estimated 50% of the population experiencing hair loss as they age, it is exciting to see the latest pharmaceutical and technological advances now available.
Dr. Sofonio is a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in aesthetic rejuvenation. He is a member of Desert Doctors and can be reached at (760) 341.5555. For more information visit www.drsofonio.com.
References: 1) American Academy of Dermatology https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss. 2) American Hair Loss Association https://www.americanhairloss.org/types_of_hair_loss/index.html. 3) American Academy of Dermatology https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss