After 20 years of trying every drug, supplement, diet and procedure for hair loss — including driving four hours twice a week for laser therapy — Lina Telford, a graphic artist, gave up on her “comb over” (her description) and shaved her head. From then on, she alternated between a $1,500 wig and a $4,000 wig.
“When you hear people complain about having a bad hair day, you almost can’t bear it,” she said. “You’re like, ‘Honey, you have no idea.’ ”
In February, though, Ms. Telford, 46, flew from her home in London, Ontario, to Sarasota, Fla., for a new $1,400 hourlong treatment known as platelet rich plasma (P.R.P.), which is said to stimulate dormant hair follicles. The procedure involves drawing blood, spinning it in a centrifuge to extract the plasma, adding various nutrients (like more protein), then injecting the resulting mixture in one-inch intervals in a grid on the top of the scalp, which has been numbed with a local anesthetic.
Like the long-suffering friend who inspired her to undergo the procedure, Ms. Telford quickly saw an improvement in her hair. New hair growth usually take at least four months, but at the two-month mark, she has already spotted some baby hairs. “Not a gazillion,” she said, “but it’s a start.” She’s planning to return for follow-up treatments every six months, and has high hopes of ditching the wigs and wearing her hair in a pixie.
Joseph Greco, Ms. Telford’s practitioner, who shares a patent for a process to remove growth factors from platelets, said he gets results in 80 percent of patients, more than half of whom are female. Roughly half of them fly in and out, often on the same day, he said, because the procedure doesn’t require downtime and has minimal side effects. (Small clinical studies suggest further research is necessary but acknowledge the procedure’s “excellent safety profile.”)
P.R.P. is one of a number of new hair-loss treatments being marketed to women, who suffer hair loss in fewer numbers but often more acutely than men because, for them, hair loss is less socially acceptable, and historically they have had fewer and less potent medical solutions.
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