August 6, 2014 8:16 pm

New drug-free treatments for hair loss

Watch above: After sharing the story of an Edmonton woman battling alopecia areata, Su-Ling Goh takes a closer look at new treatments for hair loss.

EDMONTON – It’s estimated nearly half of all Canadians, both male and female, will experience some form of hair loss by age 50.

Alopecia, the broad term for hair loss, can range from a receding hairline to no hair anywhere on the body. Treatments also range from medications, to hair transplants, and some new drug-free therapies in between.

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Dermatology professor Dr. Jaggi Rao explains that treating any type of hair loss should involve two goals: preventing further hair loss and promoting hair gain.

Prevention usually means medications. However, when it comes to re-growing hair, there are new, drug-free methods.

Red light biostimulation

This treatment uses tiny, cold lasers to help the cells in the scalp produce more protein.

“The light will enter the skin and it will actually stimulate hair production over time,” explained Rao.

He says after about three months of coming in for half-hour treatments once or twice a week, patients should notice the hairs they have become thicker.

“After…about six to 12 months, if there’s any potential for hair growth surrounding those hairs, they will grow,” he said.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

Dr. Marlene Dytoc, another dermatologist, just started offering PRP: one of the newest therapies.

It involves removing, then replacing, the patient’s own blood. A small blood sample is taken and placed in a centrifuge, which spins the platelets apart from the other blood cells. After that, the doctor adds calcium.

“When we start to add the calcium, we only have 10 minutes, because during those 10 minutes of clotting, that’s when the growth factors are…released,” Dytoc said.

The mixture is then injected into the patient’s scalp.

A recent Italian study found PRP significantly increased hair re-growth, compared to steroids or a placebo.

However, like red light biostimulation, PRP requires multiple treatments.

Both can cost a total of about $1,500. Some insurance companies may cover part of that. Alberta Health does not.

READ MORE: ‘I took off my hair': young Edmonton woman, tired of hiding who she truly is

With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014

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