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Senior Explores Laser Treatments for Hair Loss
When Mercedes Lopez first noticed her hair falling out in the shower, she didn’t pay much attention to it, but soon enough, entire clumps were falling out in her hands.
“It was getting worse and worse,” Lopez explained to the Miami Herald.
The 76-year-old purchased over-the-counter creams and pills that unfortunately just didn’t work. Her hairline was dramatically receding and she was unable to style her hair at all.
“When you lose your hair, you feel ashamed,” Lopez told the Herald. “I lost a lot of hair in my front and it was noticeable. That made me feel very uncomfortable.”
Last summer, about six months after her hair loss began, Lopez decided to seek treatment. She consulted several doctors and was finally diagnosed with frontal fibrosing alopecia, a rare disorder in which inflammation destroys hair follicles around the hairline.
The condition is a subset of alopecia areata, which affects over 4.6 million men and women in the United States, according to the North American Hair Research Society. The hair loss disease tends to cause hair to fall out in patches and sometimes completely.
Discovered in 1994, frontal fibrosing alopecia is usually diagnosed in postmenopausal women.
While the cause of the inflammation that leads to this hair loss condition is unknown, researchers speculate that frontal fibrosing alopecia is caused by an autoimmune disorder. However, there’s little solid evidence to support this speculation, making it a challenge for doctors to treat the hair loss disorder.
Dr. Antonella Tosti, professor of clinical dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is currently investigating a new treatment that has helped frontal fibrosing alopecia patients.
With low-power lasers, the treatment uses light energy to stimulate blood flow to the follicles, causing hair restoration for some frontal fibrosing alopecia patients.
“The treatment is not good for every type of alopecia, but can be very effective for patients experiencing inflammation,” Tosti explained to the Herald. “The light has anti-inflammatory properties.”
Tosti comments that of the patients she has treated using this method, about eight out of 10 have seen success.
Lopez is simply one of the number of patients Tosti has successfully treated. After trying medications prescribed by other doctors, her hair continued to fall out, so Lopez agreed to try Tosti’s treatment. She was prescribed Rogaine for men and underwent laser therapy twice a week for 12 weeks.
Her hair not only stopped falling out but actually began to grow back.
“I am very happy,” Lopez told the Herald. “I was afraid I was going to have to buy a wig and now I don’t have to. My hair is much better.”
Tosti commented that Lopez’ despair and hesitation was common in women with the hair loss condition.
“The patients are coming with bags of hair because in their previous experience, physicians weren’t listening and didn’t even touch their scalp,” Tosti told the Herald. “Hair loss really affects their quality of life, so for doctors, it is very important to have empathy.”
If you or someone you know wants more information about hair loss, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!