Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration - Alopecia
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Latisse, the brand name for the drug bimatoprost, is commonly used to promote eyelash growth in women who want their eyelashes to be longer, thicker, and darker, typically for cosmetic reasons. It is also used to promote growth of eyebrow hair.

In a publication on ClinicalTrials.gov titled, “Safety and Pharmacokinetics Study of New Formulation of Bimatoprost in Patients With Alopecia,” Allergan, the pharmaceutical company that produces Latisse, has announced a new study on the safety and efficacy of a new formulation of bimatoprost for use as a topical hair loss treatment for general baldness.

The study, based out of Tempe, Arizona, will test two different formulations of bimatoprost in men who suffer from moderate male pattern baldness and women who have moderate female patterned alopecia.

According to the details of the study, the test involves, “One mL dose applied evenly onto pre-specified balding area on scalp – single dose in the am followed by multiple doses daily in the am for 14 days.” The goal of the testing is to measure the results of a single dose of bimatoprost, as well as multiple doses over time. The completion date of the study is February 2011, so we will look for the results and share them with you when they are available.

Update:

The results of the study have been published and it did not result in the FDA approving Latisse for hair loss on the scalp. Latisse was found to be not nearly as effective in treating hair loss as the control group that used minoxidil 5% solution. See the results of the study on ClinicalTrials.gov.

Visit our page on Latisse/Bimatoprost for more information on the drug and its off-label use. View the publication on ClinicalTrials.gov for more specifics on the study. Read about other medical hair loss treatments on our page on medications.

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Q: Have there been any studies showing the difference between men and women in their response to laser treatments for hair loss?

A: In the International Journal of Cosmetic Surgery and Aesthetic Dermatology (Vol. 5, Number 2; 2003), a study on low level laser therapy (LLLT) was conducted which indicated that there was a 55% increase of growth (hair count) in the temporal area as well as 64% in the vertex of the female subjects who were treated with LLLT for hair loss. The study also indicated a 74% increase in the hair counts of the male subjects in the temporal area and 120% in the vertex region. These results would initially indicate that LLLT works better in men than in women, but there were four times as many men in this study so the results might be different in a larger test group.

However, even in this notably smaller female group, the tensile strength of the hair increased dramatically over the tensile strength observed in the male subjects after treatment. This would indicate that, at least in this study, there was not only an increased hair count in women, but the tensile strength of that hair was greatly improved as well. This would be initially indicative that LLLT may be found to be more beneficial to women than to men.

It is important to note that this study was published in 2003. Further studies need to be conducted to confirm the initial results and to further elucidate the possible mechanisms of low level laser light therapy in both men and women with alopecia. As important, long term data needs to be accumulated to show the continued efficacy of this treatment. It had been our clinical experience that LLLT is not as effective as one would assume from the results of the initial studies.

Visit the page on Laser Therapy for more information, or read more answers to questions about laser therapy.

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Most medical conditions can best be addressed with early diagnosis. Genetic hair loss is no different. A test now has the ability to identify whether or not you may be genetically predisposed to hereditary male pattern baldness (Androgenetic Alopecia).

The HairDX genetic test offers information that can aid you and your doctor in making an informed decision about the treatment of your hair loss.

This test is not a substitute for an examination by a physician experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of hair loss. It offers one more bit of information that, in the context of other data (such as hair loss pattern, scalp miniaturization and family history) can help guide you and your doctor to formulate an appropriate treatment plan.

How does this test work?

This new genetic test examines genetic variables (SNP) which are responsible for recognizing Androgen hormones in our bodies. These specific genetic variants of the X chromosome (the Androgen Receptor or AR gene) are found in 95-98% of bald men.

These genetic differences are associated with Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) and by identifying them; the onset of MPB might be better predicted. If a person is predisposed genetically to these chromosomal variations, they may be more likely to develop male pattern baldness prior to age forty.

The test consists of a simple swab of the inside of your mouth. The skin cells are then sent to the HairDX clinical laboratory for a confidential analysis.

How accurate is the test in predicting baldness?

HairDX tests for a genetic variant of a gene (the androgen receptor gene) found on the X-chromosome that is present in more than 95% of bald men. Sixty percent of patients with this variant experience male pattern baldness before the age of 40. Therefore, if a person has this gene, they would have an increased risk of significant pattern baldness.

Another, less common genetic variant of the same gene (present in about 1 in 6 men) indicates a greater then 85% likelihood that a person will not experience early onset pattern baldness. If a person is found to have this gene, they are unlikely to become very bald.

Why is the genetic test not 100%?

The androgen receptor gene identified thus far is only one of a number of genes that affect hair loss.

How does the test compare to information obtained from a history and physical exam by your physician?

An assessment of scalp miniaturization by an experienced physician using a densitometer, combined with a history and physical, appears to be a far more reliable way of predicting future hair loss. The genetic test can complement this information, but does not replace it.

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It has long been thought that the genes for common baldness come from the mother side of the family – explaining why a male whose maternal grandfather is bald is more likely to lose his hair than if his own father were bald. This observation was recently supported by the discovery of the androgen receptor (AR) gene which resides on the X-chromosome.

Remember, there are two sex chromosomes; X and Y. Females have two X chromosomes (XX), while males have one X and one Y chromosome (XY). This means that a male must get his X chromosome from the mother.

But we all have seen that some bald sons have bald fathers, even when no one on the mother’s side of the family has any hair loss. This suggests that the genetics of male pattern alopecia is more complicated, with multiple genes influencing hair growth. And it is likely that the inheritance of baldness is polygenetic, with relevant genes coming from both the x-chromosome of the mother and non-sex chromosomes of either parent. So where are the other genes?

Two independent research groups, one from England and the other Germany, both published in the journal Nature Genetics, have identified a gene locus p11 on chromosome 20 that seems to be correlated with male pattern hair loss, and since the gene is on a non-sex chromosome, it offers an explanation for why the inheritance of common baldness can be from either side of the family. It is important to emphasize that like the AR gene, the chromosome 20p11 locus has only been shown to correlate with hair loss. It is not been shown that either of these genes actually cause baldness.

Unlike many genes whose expression is one or the other (i.e. blue eyes or brown), the 20p11 variations tend to be additive; therefore, men with one affected copy will have a 3.7 fold increase in the chance of having early hair loss and those with two copies a 6.1 fold increase. Men with both the chromosome 20p11 variation and the AR gene will have a seven-fold increase of developing male pattern hair loss at an early age. This gene combination occurs in about 15% of Caucasian men.

The mainstay of predicting future hair loss is with a Densitometer – an instrument used by physicians to measure changes in hair shaft diameter (miniaturization). According to Dr. Robert Bernstein, “Looking at hair shafts under a microscope can spot shrinkage years before it is apparent – we can pick it up when kid are still teenagers.” Early diagnosis is important in androgenetic alopeica because medication is useful only if the hair loss is not too advanced. The genetic studies are significant in that they supply the physician with one more piece of information when developing a master plan for treating a person’s hair loss. See the article in the Wall Street Journal titled, Hair Apparent? New Science on the Genetics of Balding.

While researchers consider these latest discoveries to be of significant merit, caution must be made since these genes are felt to be associated with hair loss, but not yet shown to be causative. More importantly, the associations are not absolute. A clinical evaluation is still the most reliable indicator of future hair loss. Finally, the ability to identify associated genes does not suggest that a “cure” for male pattern baldness is imminent.

Reference
“On the Genetics of Balding,” Wall Street Journal, Vol. 4 – October 1, 2008.

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Q: I have hair loss due to a treatment of Accutane. I have been off this medication for about a year and a half now, yet my hair has not recovered. The texture of my hair has completely changed. Given the fact that there is no family history linking me to male pattern baldness, I attribute my hair loss exclusively to Accutane. What should I do? — H.F., Eastchester, NY

A: If the texture alone has changed there is nothing you can do except to wait. The texture should improve over time even though it has already been 18 months.

If there are signs of genetic hair loss (i.e. male pattern alopecia), then finasteride should be considered.

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Q: I had a baby 12 weeks ago and have recently been diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid, although only slightly. I was also taking Prozac for 7-10 days. I am 27 and have been experiencing a significant amount of hair loss from all over my scalp. What are the chances that this would be permanent?

A: Based upon your history, you have three possible reasons for having a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium; thyroid disease, medication induced (Prozac) and pregnancy.

Telogen effluvium is diagnosed by a hair pull test and observing club hairs under the microscope. It is generally a reversible condition, regardless of the cause. Telogen effluvium most often occurs 2-3 months after the inducing event, so your pregnancy is the most likely cause. Prozac would less likely be the problem since you have only been on it for a short time. Besides causing Telogen effluvium, thyroid disease can also alter your hair characteristics, which can make your hair appear thinner.

Other causes of hair loss, such as genetic female pattern hair alopecia, must be ruled out. Please see the Hair Loss in Women page on the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website for more information.

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Q: I am a 34 year woman with a patch of hair loss by my temple. I went to the salon to have my hair done and to my surprise my hairdresser told me that I have Alopecia? First time I’d heard of it, my G.P is not very concerned about it but having read so much about it on this site I am becoming a bit concerned. The rest of my hair is healthy any suggestions and diagnosis? — M.V., Williamsburg, Brooklyn

A: “Alopecia” is just a generic term for any kind of hair loss.

It sounds like you have a specific condition called alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that presents with the sudden appearance of well localized bald spot(s) on the scalp or other parts of the body. The underlying skin is always normal.

The treatment is injections with cortisone. Hair transplant surgery is not indicated for this condition.

You should see a dermatologist to confirm the diagnosis and treat.

Other diagnoses to consider are triangular alopecia (which would have been present since childhood) and traction alopecia (that is cased by constant tugging on the hair).

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Dr. Bernstein summarizes an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute:

Curis, Inc., a drug development company, has published data showing the effectiveness of a proprietary Hedgehog pathway activator to stimulate hair growth in adult mice. The study shows that a topically applied small molecule agonist of the Hedgehog signaling pathway can stimulate hair follicles to pass from the resting stage to the growth stage of the hair cycle. The Hedgehog agonist produces no other noticeable short or long-term changes in the skin of the mice.

This study also demonstrated that the Hedgehog agonist is active in human scalp in vitro as measured by Hedgehog pathway gene expression. The results suggest that topical application of a Hedgehog agonist could be effective in treating hair loss conditions, including male and female pattern genetic hair loss.

Preliminary results were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) in February 2005. This work was based on a study in 2001 by Sato et. Al. who showed that the Sonic hedgehog gene is involved in the initiation of hair growth in mice.

Reference: Sato N., Leopold PL, Crystal, RG. Effect of Adenovirus-Mediated Expression of Sonic Hedgehog Gene on Hair Regrowth in Mice With Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2001, Vol. 93, No. 24.

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The highly-rated CBS television program “The Early Show” interviewed Dr. Bernstein as part of a three-part series on hair loss in women. View a clip of the video here:

Watch the video at YouTube or go to the Bernstein Medical YouTube Channel to see more videos on hair loss in women and other hair restoration topics.

Read the full transcript here:

Julie Chen: There are many treatments available for serious hair loss including surgical options like hair transplants. That may sound scary, but for one woman, it was the answer she’d been waiting for.

Narrator: Marian Malloy is used to being in control. As the duty manager for an international terminal at Newark Airport, it’s her job. But Marian wasn’t always so self-confident. Due to a condition called alopecia areata, Marian began losing her hair back in college.

Marian Malloy: I was on my own for the very first time and I was learning about life and learning about my hair loss. And it just devastated me. So I started out picking out methods to improve my hairline. Initially, I went to a dermatologists who put me on a prescription of injections, actually. I would go over weekly and he injected my head, and I got results, but I also started growing facial hair, which wasn’t something that I wanted. After that, I decided to start with the Rogaine and once again I saw results, but Rogaine was something that I had to do every day for the rest of my life, and I just didn’t want to be that dependent on a medication.

Narrator: Marian continued to search for an acceptable treatment to her condition, even trying hair plugs, until she heard about Dr. Robert Bernstein’s new method of Follicular Unit Transplantation, or in layman’s terms, a hair transplant.

Marian Malloy: I wasn’t scared at all. I was desperate, so that overrode everything.

Julie Chen: Marian Malloy is here along with her hair transplant surgeon, Dr. Robert Bernstein, to help us look at some of the medical options that are available to women suffering from this affliction.

Good morning to both of you.

Dr. Bernstein: Good morning.

Marian Malloy: Good morning.

Julie Chen: Marian, thank you for speaking out about this very private problem. How has your life changed since getting the hair transplant?

Marian Malloy: Well, I just feel better about my appearance, and appearance is very important to me in my line of work. I just feel a lot better and I think I look better. My hairline looks better.

Julie Chen: Boost in the self-confidence department?

Marian Malloy: Actually, yes.

Julie Chen: And your friends and family see a difference in it?

Marian Malloy: You know, my friends and family really didn’t notice a difference before, and they thought I was crazy for harping on it the way that I did.

Julie Chen: But if you see it, that’s all that —

Marian Malloy: And it was all about me. It’s not about my family and friends. It’s about how I feel.

Julie Chen: Right.

Marian Malloy: Yes.

Julie Chen: Dr. Bernstein, I want to go through all the options that are available for women, but what is the difference between female and male hair loss option-wise. What can we do to treat it?

Dr. Bernstein: The main difference medically is that women have hair loss often from hormonal changes and it’s due to an imbalance between progesterones and estrogens. That equilibrium can be reestablished with medication. Often birth control pills can do that.

Julie Chen: So that’s one option.

Dr. Bernstein: One option. For the most common cause of hair loss, genetic hair loss, Minoxidil can be used for both men and women, but the most effective medication for men, Propecia, can’t be used in women. And the reason –

Julie Chen: Why not?

Dr. Bernstein: The reason is that it causes birth defects if taken during pregnancy and postmenopausally it doesn’t seem to work.

Julie Chen: Oh, okay. So talk to me about Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine .Just as successful for women as in men?

Dr. Bernstein: It seems to be similarly successful, but the success rate is not very good, and one of the problems with its use in women is that you can get hair at the hairline on the forehead. So the usefulness is a little bit limited.

Julie Chen: So is it promoting hair growth if it does work, the Rogaine, or is it just making your existing hair grow in thicker? I’ve heard both.

Dr. Bernstein: It actually stimulates the growth of existing hair.

Julie Chen: Okay so you got to be really careful topically what you touch after you’re rubbing it into your scalp.

Dr. Bernstein: Yes.

Julie Chen: Another option is topical Cortisone and Cortisone injection.

Dr. Bernstein: Yes many people think that Cortisone can be used for genetic hair loss or common hair loss and it really can’t. It’s a good treatment for specific types of diseases, the most common one is alopecia areata. In that condition, the body actually fights off its own hair follicles. And then the Cortisone is used to suppress the immune system and actually allows the body to permit the hair to grow back.

Julie Chen: Now, Marian tried these options that we’re talking about. You weren’t satisfied, so you had a hair transplant.

Marian Malloy: Yes.

Julie Chen: Describe exactly what you did for Marian.

Dr. Bernstein: In the past, hair transplantation was not a good option for women because hair was transplanted in little clumps. With Follicular Unit Transplantation, we can now transplant hair exactly the way it grows, which is in little tiny bundles of one to four hairs. With Marian we took a strip from the back of her head, in other words, right from the back of the scalp where you can’t see it.

Julie Chen: Where there’s more hair?

Dr. Bernstein: Yes, we remove that strip and place it under a microscope and dissect out the individual follicular units – the hair is transplanted exactly the way it grows in nature. And that hair is then put in needle-poke incisions all along the hairline, and because the grafts are so small, you can actually mimic the swirls and the change in hair direction exactly the way the hair grows naturally.

Julie Chen: And it stays?

Dr. Bernstein: Yes, it stays. We make a very snug fit between the graft and the needle-poke incision. And so it really holds on to the grafts well. In fact, the patients can shower the next morning.

Julie Chen: The next morning? Marian, what was your experience like having this hair transplant? No problems since?

Marian Malloy: No problems, absolutely no problems.

Julie Chen: Did insurance cover any of this?

Marian Malloy: No, absolutely not.

Julie Chen: How costly is this?

Dr. Bernstein: The average procedure is about $7,000.

Julie Chen: And it’s one procedure and you’re done?

Dr. Bernstein: Usually one to two procedures.

Julie Chen: $7,000 a pop. Well, you found it was worth your money, is that right, Marian?

Marian Malloy: Absolutely, yes.

Julie Chen: Dr. Bernstein, Marian Malloy, thank you both for coming on the show talking about this.

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