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The technological race against baldness



The war for a shiny and shiny hair, besides being populated, has never ceased. Luckily, the state of the art against hair loss has reached an unprecedented level . And the best could be yet to come.

Stem cells, 3D printing and the best laboratories in the world have remedied what thousands of crepe sellers have been ensuring they can fight. But it was not magic, but science, the tool we needed to win this war against alopecia.

The war against alopecia, what weapons do we have?

If the mercachifles and healers had known about the substances we know today to fight baldness, they probably wouldn’t have earned their name so hard. Of the concoctions and ointments that promised to delay the fall and promote scalp growth, today only the chanza is preserved.

However, what less people know is that there are really effective medications . Specifically, there are two molecules (and their derivatives) capable of magic size: finasteride and monoxidil. Starting with the first, this molecule takes more than two decades, according to this monograph of the prestigious SciElo , used in different pharmacological fields, especially in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia .

But, interestingly, the same mechanism that serves to protect us against cancer helps preserve hair. Finasteride is a non-hormonal steroid derived antiandrogenic drug . In other words, it acts in the metabolic pathway of testosterone, very important in many physiological aspects. Specifically, it inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase that transforms testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, its active molecule.

And how important is it for the hair? Although we do not fully know the mechanism that acts, we know that dihydrotestosterone is behind the loss of function of the hair follicles . By controlling it, we also prevent many of these follicles from becoming inactive, causing hair loss. This property has been described since the 1990s and is one of the most effective treatments to prevent, but not to treat hair loss.

On the other hand, monoxidil is an antihypertensive vasodilator drug . But it is also used, at least since the seventies, as Peter Conrad collects in his book “The medicalization of society” , to treat alopecia. Unlike finasteride, minoxidil is applied topically and its mechanism of action is still unknown, although it is suspected that it has to do with follicle irrigation.

This treatment has also proven to be enormously effective, producing a regeneration between three and six months since it begins to be used. Even so, and despite its benefits, neither finasteride nor minoxidil are 100% effective treatments, nor are they all-powerful.

Indeed, there are many people who do not work for physiological or metabolic reasons. On top of that, these medications have to be administered “for life”, since they are not a cure, but a permanent application that keeps the hair follicles dead under control .

On the other hand, although they are safe, especially monoxidil, some evidence suggests the moderate use of finasteride since in the long term it can present complications in case of the appearance of cancer or other problems related to the prostate. For all this, we continue in this arms race and go on a trip.

Turkey, the capital of hair

In addition to being the border between Europe and Asia, Turkey has become famous in recent decades for its hair recovery operations . Although it is not, by far, the only place where they are made, nor does it have to be the best.Today we can find “complete” travel packages: five-star hotel, excursions, interpreter, all-inclusive and, of course, hair reimplant treatment

But its prices and an opportunistic vein knew has managed to attract the attention of the world. Today we can find “complete” travel packages : five-star hotel, excursions, interpreter, all-inclusive and, of course, hair reimplantation treatment.

How does it work? In 1959, Norman Orentreich presented to the New York Academy of Sciences a method consisting of removing small pieces of complete skin, with its hair follicles, and transplanting them to other parts of the skin successfully. Although his work is far from modern and leading current systems, the truth is that it was a brutally interesting approach , as it was the first time that he managed to reverse alopecia for life.

Currently, clinics employ much more precise knowledge about the form of extraction, implantation and growth patterns. There are several techniques , of which the newest employ a tiny extractor that removes hair units, each with several hair follicles. This is done manually or by a specialized robot, capable of processing hundreds or thousands of hair units in a short time. The use of these arms ensures the least invasive process possible. The hairs get from the lateral areas and the crown of the head.

Once removed, the hair units are prepared for grafts. To make them, special needles are used that make holes where these extracted follicles are inserted. All this is done under sedation. The result, if the follicle grabs well, can be very satisfying. But the opposite can also occur and not end properly. With this technique, hair can be preserved for a very long time, although it could eventually be affected by epidermal metabolism. However, this is not normal and, commonly, hair grafts are permanent. But, even so, it is not enough.