Are all Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) Devices the same?
Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) has become one of the most popular treatments for female hair loss, and with the increase in popularity we have also seen an increase in at home options. However, many patients tell us it can be confusing when they try to research and compare all of the LLLT devices. Before we get into the devices, it is important to understand what exactly is LLLT.
LLLT stimulates the hair follicle cells to grow in the scalp and increases cellular activity around the follicle. This also decreases inflammation so existing hairs can grow thicker and stronger. While LLLT has been proven to be effective for many years, the 2014 double-blind study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, truly showed the power of LLLT in treating hair loss.
With a simple internet search, you will find a number of at home LLLT devices, such as the LCPro by LaserCap, the Capillus, the LaserBand 82 by HairMax, the Theradome, or the iGrow, and this can be very overwhelming to the patient. However, there are a few key differences that you need to look out for when comparing devices. First, the laser wavelength should be between 650nm-655nm. Secondly, the laser output per diode should be 5mw. Thirdly, the diodes should be true lasers and not just red lights. Lastly, the number of diodes is extremely important. Many of the full caps are sold with varying numbers of diodes, often varying between 80 and 272, but you truly need at least 220 diodes in the cap to ensure you are receiving the proper coverage to the entire scalp. While some products like the HairMax LaserBand 82 only have 82 diodes, since they only cover a third of the head, they have the sufficient number of diodes in the treatment area, you just have to move the device to treat the entire scalp.
If you think you are interested in LLLT, it is important to speak with a hair loss specialist that can not only determine if a LLLT device is right for you, but guide you through the decision making process to purchase the best device.
Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team
What Is Female Pattern Hair Loss
Female pattern hair loss (FPHL), clinically known as Androgenic or Androgenetic Alopecia, is the most common cause of hair thinning and loss in women. Up to 50 % of women have some degree of female pattern hair loss in their lifetime. It certainly is more common as women age, particularly after menopause, but it can start as early as the teenage years. Female pattern hair loss tends to run in families, and inheritance can be from either the mother or father, but sometimes there is no family history. We know that hormones play a role in this type of hair loss, especially the “androgenic” hormones such as testosterone.
Female pattern hair loss is typically more pronounced in the frontal areas of the scalp. Over time the hair shaft gets thinner in a process known as “miniaturization”. Your hair goes through a constant life cycle, as we naturally shed and grow new hairs. However, miniaturization occurs, because the anagen phase, or growth phase, of the hair cycle gets shorter, which means the hair is not able to grow as long or thick as it has in the past. Eventually if not treated, the affected hair will continue to get smaller and disappear completely.
The good news is there are great treatment options for female pattern hair loss, but it is very important to start as early as possible. If a hair has been lost for a long time there is no way to get it back, unless you surgically transplant a different follicle in that area. However, with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy or Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) you can reverse the miniaturization and thicken and grow existing hairs. If your loss is recent, we may be able to re-activate dormant follicles so that they start producing a hair again. If you think you may be experiencing signs of female pattern hair loss it is important to see a hair loss specialist as soon as possible so that they can diagnose your type of hair loss and come up with a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
Formula 82M vs OTC Minoxidil
When many patients start to see signs of hair loss, their first thought is often to try one of the many over the counter minoxidil treatments. Minoxidil is a topical treatment, and the most commonly known brand is Rogaine. Minoxidil can be a great first step for hair loss, and was FDA approved in 1988. Patients experiencing Androgenic Alopecia (Female Pattern Hair Loss), Telogen Effluvium, and early Traction Alopecia are good candidates for minoxidil.
While minoxidil can be a good first step for patients with early signs of hair loss, many patients feel that over the counter minoxidil treatments can be irritating or make their hair greasy. At Medi Tresse we offer a specially compounded minoxidil solution called Formula 82M, which combats these issues. Formula 82M is specially formulated to be less irritating and less greasy, while also having a higher absorption rate, which means your scalp and follicles will receive a greater percentage of the minoxidil in Formula 82M than with an over the counter option.
Most patients will start to see a benefit from Formula 82M in three to six months, but for some patients it could take six to twelve months. At Medi Tresse we have seen the best results for patients when they combine the Formula 82M with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy or a Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) device like a laser cap. If you think you may be experiencing signs of hair loss the first step should always be to see a hair loss specialist who can not only diagnose your type of hair loss, but provide you with a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
New Year's Resolutions For Your Hair Health
If you are anything like the team here at Medi Tresse, you have probably spent the last month coming up with a list of New Year's Resolutions for 2017. Since our main focus at Medi Tresse is the well-being of your hair, we just want to make sure you do not forget about the health of your locks this upcoming year! Here are a few resolutions that will help improve hair health and decrease breakage in 2017!
- Take a daily multivitamin to help assure your follicles are provided with the adequate nutrition they need to grow strong. The following vitamins and minerals are essential for not only hair, but healthy skin and nails as well:
- Copper, Iron, Zinc, Biotin, Vitamins B6, B12, A, C, D, E, and Omega-3’s
- While taking a daily multi-vitamin is great, nothing beats the natural vitamins and nutrients we get from our diet. Try to make foods that are naturally high in vitamins and nutrients essential to hair health a staple in your diet, such as dark leafy greens, which are high in Iron, Copper, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E or avocados, which are high in Biotin and Copper. You can find a full list of foods in our Avoid the Crash Diet This New Year blog post.
- Try to use the same shampoo for at least 6 months before changing it. Hair can respond to the changing chemicals in the shampoos and become too dry.
- Trim your hair every 6-8 weeks, which promotes strong, healthy locks that are free of brittle split-ends.
- Try not to over style your hair. While you can find a blow dryer and flat iron straightener in all of our bathrooms, just remember that excessive heat can damage the hair, and we want to be careful not to dry out the follicle. Moderation is the key when it comes to using your blow dryer and flat iron.
If you have any hair health questions in 2017, please remember you can always reach out to the Medi Tresse teams in Boston and Chattanooga. Most importantly, we hope that you and your family have a safe and healthy 2017.
Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team
Avoid The Crash Diet This Year
It’s hard to believe that the New Year is upon us! As we begin to prepare for the year ahead, New Year’s resolutions often involve new diets and weight loss goals, especially after the Holiday splurge! If losing weight is on your list of resolutions this year, we have a few tips for you.
What you may not be aware of is that both rapid and extreme weight loss, as well as crash diets can actually cause hair loss! Hair loss due to dieting is typically caused by deficiencies in key nutrients, especially if the diet involves food restrictions or limitations. However, often times it may just be due to the changes in your diet or the new drastic loss of weight. Drastic changes on the body, including loss of weight can put a lot of stress on the body. Hair follicles are very vulnerable to this, and often start to shed as a result! This is called Telogen Effluvium, and it is the body’s response to stress. Typically hair loss caused by dieting and weight loss is temporary and can be restored with the proper treatment plan and a balanced diet. However, the key is to lose weight safely in order to limit or avoid hair loss all together.
In order to lose weight you must decrease the number of calories that you take in, either by dieting, exercising, or both. Unfortunately, certain “fad diets” deprive the body of important nutrients that can affect hair growth! For example, while making dietary changes, you want to make sure that your body is still receiving enough biotin, iron, zinc, copper, protein, and vitamins A, C, and E. While it is always best to get these nutrients from natural sources, you should consider taking supplements and multivitamins to ensure your body is receiving the necessary levels of these nutrients, especially while pursuing a weight loss program. Here are some examples of foods from which you can get these vitamins and nutrients naturally:
Oily fish – salmon, tuna
Meats – liver
Meats – liver
Dark leafy greens
Coffee – decaf
Cocoa powder – unsweetened
Meats – red meat, pork, poultry
Dark green leafy vegetables - spinach
Dried fruit - apricots
Iron-fortified breads and pastas
Seafood – oysters
Meats – beef, lamb
Seed – pumpkin and squash
Nuts – cashews
Cocoa powder – unsweetened
Dark leafy greens (kale, spinach)
Citrus — Fruits in general
Almonds – nuts in general
Dark leafy greens
Lastly, it is important to avoid “shocking” your body with a crash diet. A crash diet is when you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time. Not only can this cause hair loss, but usually the loss is short lived and weight is gained back much easier then if it was lost slowly and safely. You never want to lose more than 2 pounds per week, and your diet changes and weight loss should be gradual.If you think you are suffering hair loss caused by recent weight loss or changes in diet, it is always best to consult a hair loss specialist that can diagnose the underlying cause of the hair loss and work with you to create a proper treatment plan. Medi Tresse is your local hair loss treatment team; we provide hair loss treatment to women throughout Boston and Chattanooga.
Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team
Ask Dr. Wendel: What are the craziest hair loss myths you’ve heard?
During my many years as a women’s hair loss specialist, I have been on the receiving end of all sorts of wild misconceptions about hair thinning and hair loss. There are so many old wives tails and so much on the internet that is flat-out wrong! Which is why this Ask Dr. Wendel post will offer up the truth behind some of the craziest hair loss myths that I’ve heard.
One myth about hair loss is that over-shampooing will make your hair fall out. Although women may notice that they shed hair strands much more after they shampoo or brush their hair, it’s actually a part of the normal hair growth cycle. (You can read more about normal hair loss in this previous blog post.) Another myth is that coloring your hair can make it fall out. Dyeing or bleaching your hair can make hair break more easily but it won’t make it fall out from the root. Same goes for hot styling tools like blow dryers, curling irons, and straighteners.
As for myths about preventing hair loss, I have had more than a few patients who heard that standing on one’s head can make your hair grow faster and thicker! Obviously, this is completely false. Hair loss is not a blood flow problem, but instead is caused by other factors such as age, diet, medications and genetics.
The hair-related folk tale that I hear every day is that hair loss is supposed to only happen to men. This is absolutely not true. About 40% of women experience hair loss in their lifetime and, while men and women lose hair differently, it still affects both genders the same way. It can be frustrating, embarrassing and emotionally devastating for anyone having to deal with it.
To finish up this post, I must say that the very worst untruth about hair loss is that there’s no hope. I want every woman out there struggling with hair loss to know that there is hope. Medi Tresse is one of the very few clinics in New England (and even in the U.S.) that, in addition to offering an array of hair loss treatments, specializes in Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy for the scalp. PRP has been studied and proven to show improvements in hair loss in only six month. In about three treatments, which only take one hour each (from start-to-finish) in our office, a patient will see regrowth. PRP doesn’t just maintain your current level of thinness – it can regrow hair in places that are thinning out or even patchy.
We welcome any woman to call or email us for a friendly, confidential consultation about the best treatments to address whatever type of hair loss you may be experiencing. No matter how subtle or serious it is, we will ask you the right questions to get to the bottom of what may be causing your hair loss, and we will give your our best professional recommendations for treatment options that can lead to noticeable improvements.
Posted by Mary Wendel, M.D.
Tips for Preventing Thinning Hair or Hair Loss
It’s not uncommon to worry about your hair becoming thin or even falling out at some point. There are plenty of myths when it comes to causes of female hair loss, which we’ll touch upon in a future post, but for now, here are 10 tips to prevent thinning hair or to manage any hair thinning that you may currently be experiencing:
1. Maintain a Healthy Diet
The first step you should take in preventing unnecessary health issues, including lack-luster or thinning hair, is to maintain a well-balanced diet. A combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and low-fat foods can help you combat hair loss. In addition, avoid any snacks with high sugar content as these cause sugar cravings which prevent us from eating more nutrient-rich foods.
2. Proper Weight Management
If you need to lose excess weight at any point in your life, take your time. Avoid the appeal of a “quick fix” crash diet, promising to help you lose weight fast. Any rapid weight loss diets run the risk of causing hair loss. Follow only a doctor-recommended diet with NO stimulants.
3. Get Your Vitamins
Small iron deficiencies can likely lead to hair loss, especially during childbearing years, so make sure your multivitamin has a small amount of iron in it to help keep your levels normal. I’ve found that many of my patients with thinning hair have low iron levels.
4. Eliminate or Lower Your Body’s Stress Levels
Stress can take a mental and physical toll on your body. Regular exercise is one of the best stress-reducers, since it boosts endorphins and lowers the levels of your body’s stress hormones. Give yoga and meditation a try – both of them are helpful stress relievers that can easily be incorporated into one’s daily regime.
5. Visit One Hair Stylist on a Regular Basis
A professional stylist will be more likely to notice any changes in your hair if you see him or her on an ongoing basis. Stylists are able to identify signs of hair loss – ask him/her to tell you their honest feedback and to keep an eye out for you.
6. Be Gentle to Your Hair When Styling
Avoid pulling and tugging your hair when brushing and give up the super tight ponytails and buns, which can cause breakage and damage at the root. Additional examples of hair styles, tools and practices to avoid or cut back on as much as possible include: corn rows, tiny, tight braids, hot irons, straighteners, excessive blow drying with hot air, hot curlers, prolonged perms or chemical straighteners.
7. Use Hair Coloring That’s Safe
Many women color their hair to hide grays or to brighten their locks. Ask your stylist to use a professional hair color product that contains no peroxide and as little ammonia as possible. Both chemicals can be damaging to hair.
8. Choose Oral Contraceptives Wisely
If you are a young woman on oral contraceptives, make sure you know which type you are taking and any possible side effects. Some birth control pills can contribute to hair loss. If your hair is naturally thin, have an open discussion with your doctor about your concerns.
9. Check Your Family History
If there is a strong history of hair thinning or loss among immediate and/or extended family members (grandparents, parents, uncles, etc.), you may have a higher risk of experiencing it yourself. If consulting with a hair loss expert, make sure to bring any family observations to his/her attention. Very often a patient concerned about her thinning hair will tell me that her mother or sister also have thin hair. This is not just a coincidence!
10. Schedule Regular Physicals
Try to make (and keep) regularly-scheduled physical exams and have your doctor check your labs for vitamin deficiencies (including iron), hormonal imbalances, diabetes, and other nutritional deficiencies. Your doctor can help you identify some of the potential causes of hair thinning.
All of these tips are lifestyle changes and precautionary measures you can take in an effort to prevent unwanted thinning and can be followed in conjunction with professional medical hair rejuvenation solutions available at Medi Tresse.
Posted by Mary Wendel, M.D.