Hair loss affects nearly 60 million Americans. Because hair helps build confidence and self-worth for both men and women, thinn-ing or balding can take a significant emotional toll. As a result, those suffering from the condition will go to great lengths to reverse it. “For many of us, our hair is closely linked to our identity, and once it starts to thin, we will do almost anything we can to regrow it or at least halt the thinning,” says Chaz Hatfield, president of NutraStim. “We believe it is important to look at the issue of hair loss and hair health broadly and provide solutions for every type of hair and stage of hair loss.” Medical spas equipped to provide these solutions can provide a life-changing experience for clients, restoring a healthy head of hair along with their confidence.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of men suffer from hair loss by the age of 35. But it’s not just a men’s club. Women make up 40 percent of hair-loss sufferers. Nearly all hair-loss cases are caused by androgenetic alopecia (AGA), which is genetic and occurs when dihydrotestosterone (DHT) causes the hair follicles to shed thick hairs and produce thinner, shorter, colorless hairs. “Both men and women are looking for safe and effective solutions to treat hair loss, not empty promises,” says Hatfield. Traditionally, men have been more active seeking hair restoration, but recent years have shown an increase in women pursuing treatment for thinning hair. There are a variety of effective and scientifically proven options to meet their needs. “Treatments for AGA range from prescription oral medications, drug-based or natural topical treatments to lasers and supplements,” says Alex Khadavi, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and creator of Revivogen, a treatment system for hair loss made by Advanced Skin and Hair.
Root of the Problem
It’s much easier to hold onto hair than to regrow it. “Recent developments and clinical studies performed over the last few decades have taught us that hair follicles don’t just switch off—they gradually get weaker over time, also known as miniaturizing, until they stop growing altogether,” says Hatfield. “The earlier you start to treat hair loss, the better your results are going to be.” That’s why preventative treatments and early intervention are essential. Even then, the results appear gradually. Healthy hair grows one-quarter of an inch per month. “For any hair-loss treatment, it takes between six to nine months to see visible results,” says Khadavi. “But within 90 days, you would know if a treatment is working by noticing a significant reduction of shedding and thickening of existing hairs.”
Top of Mind
Many dermatologists recommend clients begin with topical options, such as scalp solutions, shampoos, and other over-the-counter remedies before proceeding to more aggressive treatments. “The technology and ingredients are getting more and more sophisticated, like advanced peptides, lipids, stem cells, and innovative ingredient delivery systems,” says Sabrina Little, senior director of marketing and product development at Athena Cosmetics, which manufactures the ReGenesis Hair Enhancing System. The range of hair products, launched in 2015, incorporates the proprietary technology found in the company’s lash and brow conditioners. “To speed up the new hair growth, we use ReGenesis,” says Paul Labrecque, owner of Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa (New York City). “This bio-protein technology grows stronger, thicker hairs on the head and makes all the short hairs grow at an amazing speed.” The spa also offers a scalp treatment incorporating Biologique Recherche products that open up the pores on the scalp. It increases oxygen to the bulb of the follicles, ultimately producing a better environment for healthy hair to grow. Minoxidil, an over-the-counter hair-loss medication, can be found in a variety of brands. It widens the hair follicle and sparks regrowth within six months of consistent use. Propecia blocks about 70 percent of the DHT in the scalp, and it is only available for men. Another option is Revivogen MD, which incorporates a variety of natural ingredients clinically proven to reduce DHT production and activate the hair follicle’s growth phase. “All current treatments that work can stop the hair loss and reverse it only as long as they are used,” says Khadavi. “If clients stop, their hair loss will resume its natural course. They will slowly lose the results gained from treatment and continue losing their hair.”
Advances in technology and low-level laser therapy (LLLT) can enhance the effects of topical treatments. Laser devices—such as HairMax, iGrow, NutraStim, and more—have been FDA-approved to treat hereditary hair loss in men and women by stimulating the scalp. LLLT improves circulation and stimulates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is needed to provide energy to all cells in the body. New research presented in November at the annual World Congress for Hair Research in Miami added more support to the effects of laser-light energy on hair growth. Microneedling also improves the delivery of topical ingredients. “Microneedling can be used for stimulation and regeneration of the scalp and improve the penetration of active ingredients with excellent results,” says Adriana Rodriguez, training manager for Sesderma.
A more aggressive approach may be necessary when hair loss is extreme. “Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem-cell therapy are biologic treatments that use the patients’ own platelets and stem cells to heal and reverse the balding process,” says William Yates, M.D., a surgeon at the Chicago Center for Hair Transplants. “These new biologic treatments are showing great success and offer an alternative to traditional medical therapies alone.” For PRP hair-growth treatments, the patient’s own blood is processed in a centrifuge to concentrate the plasma before it is injected into the scalp.
Additionally, minimally invasive techniques make surgery an increasingly appealing option. “Hair-loss treatments have evolved over the years from an unregulated industry that would sell magic potions and even inject fibers into the scalp,” says Francesca Dubsky, director of marketing for Lexington International, makers of HairMax. “Today, doctors who are properly trained in transplants can give people a head of hair that is nearly as good as the one God gave them.” Follicular unit extraction (FUE) is a modern hair-transplant procedure and doesn’t require an incision or cause scarring. “With FUE, I am able to isolate each follicular unit with a very small punch instrument and carefully punch each hair follicle out for transplantation,” says Yates. “This method has very mild or no discomfort afterwards, and the tiny holes heal and are often not visible at all.” The transplanted hair is permanent, because it uses follicles from the back and sides of the head, which are immune to the balding process. “We now have robotic machines that can map out the back of a person’s head and choose which follicles to take during a transplant,” says Dubsky. “The implantation techniques have improved so that when the hair grows in, it looks completely natural,” says Yates. Though hereditary hair loss is not curable, the treatment and technique innovation show there’s plenty of room to grow.
These companies offer the crown jewel of hair-loss treatment technology and effective ingredients.
- Advanced Skin & Hair www.advancedskinandhair.com
- ARTAS www.artashair.com
- Aveda www.aveda.com
- Biologique Recherche www.biologique-recherche.com
- HairMax www.hairmax.com
- iGrow www.igrowlaser.com
- NutraStim www.nutrastimhair.com
- Nutrafol www.nutrafol.com
- RevitaLash www.revitalash.com
- Sesderma www.sesdermausa.com