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Can Iron Supplements Restore Hair?

The possibility of losing more hair due to iron deficiencies is certainly a plausible one. However, taking supplements to restore hair may help some people to a certain degree. There are many factors that contribute to unwanted loss. Therefore,  the focus on iron intake alone should not be considered a universal hair restoration strategy, according to Dr. U.

Iron and Hair Health

Iron is an important mineral for the body. It is used to create a molecule called hemoglobin which transports oxygen to our cells, including those that make up the hair follicles. In fact, these structures rely heavily on the abundant availability of oxygen. This is important for normal functions needed to produce hair shafts.

However, it is reasonable to expect that lower levels of iron in the blood will undermine the supply of oxygen to the hair follicles. And logically speaking, this would have a negative impact on these structures.

Changes in the body’s normal state of equilibrium typically creates a state of stress. And hair follicles often react to this by entering the telogen resting phase. This is when the hair stops growing and eventually sheds about 3-4 months later.

Iron deficiencies can certainly contribute to a state of physiological imbalance that leads to hair loss.

What the Experts Say

Currently there is not enough research which supports a clear relationship between low levels of iron and hair loss.  Dr. U often educates individuals on the fact that there are many variables that contribute to this condition. And these factors can influence individual cases to varying degrees.

Large scale research studies require significant organization as well as funding. Therefore, it is not always practical to wait until formal studies are performed in order to address conditions.

Not all medical experts believe that iron contributes to hair loss since there are quite a few studies which show that there is no relationship.

Yet there are many who feel that it is a variable which deserves consideration. Here are a few examples:

(1) George Cotserelis of the University of Pennsylvania

According to Dr. Cotserelis, replenishing iron supplies in the body can help patients slow down the rate of shedding or even restore their hair. This would largely depend on how strongly the iron deficiency has affected the follicles for a particular individual

(2) Leonid Benjamin Trost MD, Ellen Calogeras RD, MPH, Wilma Bergfield MD

These medical experts addressed the possible link between iron and hair loss in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Based on their experience and review of past research, they believe that iron plays a much bigger role in hair health and restoration than is realized by the medical community.

Even if low iron is not a direct cause, this state can actually worsen a person’s hair loss condition.

Iron and Hair Restoration

Replenishing the body’s iron supply is an undertaking that should be done carefully. According to Dr. U, the safest way to add more of this mineral is by consuming natural food sources like dark leafy greens, for example.

Taking supplements should be done under the guidance of a physician. The recommended dosages listed on over the counter products may or may not be suitable for a particular individual. A doctor would be able to determine safe and appropriate limits.

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(image: Flickr/Creative Commons) iron rich foods like spinach can support hair restoration efforts

 

 Can Natural Oils Help Restore Hair?

Many hair loss sufferers are eager use natural ingredients as their first priority of treatment. They are less costly. And there is a much lower risk of experiencing unwanted side effects.

Throughout various sources on the internet, is seems to be quite clear that plant based oils are associated with numerous health benefits.  And furthermore, these types of natural remedies have been used for centuries. But is their usage premised on folk lore? Or are there legitimate reasons to consider the use of natural plant based oils for hair growth?

Research on Topical Essential Oils

Back in 1998, the Archives of Dermatology published research findings on the use of an essential oil blend. This consisted of the following:

(1) rosemary oil

(2) cedarwood oil

(3) lavender oil

(4) thyme oil

By themselves, these oils can irritate and even damage the skin. Therefore they were mixed into a carrier blend of jojoba and grapeseed oil to dilute the effects of this combination.

The participants of this study were asked to massage their scalps consistently with this blend for several months.

The researchers who led this study were surprised to find that many of the subjects were able to experience regrowth of hair.  In fact, 44% were able to to grow back at least half of their hair. And some of the participants completely restored their hair.

It seems that the essential oils were able to stimulate greater blood flow to the scalp.

Food Supplements

The intake of natural oils may also be beneficial for hair restoration purposes as well. For example, researchers in South Korea studied the effects of taking pumpkin seed oil as a supplement.

The participants included men with moderate stage pattern baldness.  They took pumpkin seed oil capsules twice a day for about six months.

44% of the subjects in the treatment group were able to experience new hair growth.

Pumpkin seed oil is believed to work by blocking the alpha-II-reductase enzyme. This prevents testosterone from breaking down into DHT (dehydrotestosterone).  Therefore, pumpkin seed oil works on the same chemical pathway as Finasteride. But at this point, it cannot be officially considered as a full fledged natural alternative to the hair restoration drug.

The Effectiveness of Natural Oils

According to Dr. U, individuals who wish to use natural oils for hair regrowth may want to consider their usage as part of a their overall plans for better health.  Within conservative dosage limits, the potential for side effects is very minimal. And the benefits will likely outweigh the risks.

However, these types of treatments have a greater chance of being effective for early or possibly mid stage baldness.

There are a growing number of physicians who recommend the consideration of treatments with natural ingredients. Plant extracts have other important components besides just the active agent which can create a more balanced and harmonious effect within the entire body. This is far more preferable compared to synthetic drugs whose design only focuses on the active ingredient and may have adverse effects on cells and tissues beyond the treatment area.

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(image: Flickr- Creative Commons)
Rosemary and other plant extracts have been shown in research studies to improve hair growth

Which Celebrities Underwent Hair Restoration?

Celebrities in the entertainment industry often face enormous pressure to remain looking as young as possible. Now that hair restoration methods are able to create exceptionally natural looking results, these surgeries are being undertaken by more high profile media figures. Some are willing to share their experiences quite openly. And this has helped shift attitudes towards hair surgery in general. Without a doubt this has help many people feel less self conscious about their hair loss as they realize that even famous people are affected by baldness and thinning.

Wayne Rooney Tweets His FUE Photos

Soccer star, Wayne Rooney was tired of his team mates teasing him about his hair loss. Still in in his twenties, he decided to undergo Follicular Unit Extraction. Instead of shocking fans by appearing in public with a mysterious full head of hair, he decided to be open and honest about his hair transplant by tweeting photos of himself right after his procedure.

Wayne also discussed his hair transplant experience in his autobiography.

James Nesbitt Speaks About Hair Restoration

Irish actor, James Nesbitt wanted to improve his appearance. Male pattern baldness had caused noticeable baldness on top of his head. While he wanted to look younger, he also sought a high, age appropriate hairline. This created a very natural looking improvement which he claims was life changing.

Thrilled with his FUE results, he has even become a spokesperson for the clinic who had helped him restore his hair.

Elton John Conquers Baldness

Elton John became a pop music sensation while he was still in his twenties. However, despite being so young, he had noticeable amounts of hair loss. But back in the 1970s, hair transplant methods still produced pluggy looking results. And this type of surgery developed a rather negative stigma.

Fortunately, though, Elton was able to experience the benefits of modern hair restoration surgery which completely turned his image around by giving him a natural looking full head of hair.

He continues to be a relevant music icon who is admired by younger generations of fans.

AJ McLean Shares Hair Transplant Photos With Fans

Backstreet Boy, AJ Mclean has always had a very high forehead. However, his hair loss continued to progress. He wanted to undergo a hair restoration surgery to help him reverse the effects of male pattern baldness. The procedure created a very natural looking improvement. And like Wayne Rooney, he decided to share photos of his outcome on Twitter which received many compliments by fans. But mostly people seemed to be impressed by his candor.

Bernardo de Paula Restores His Hairline and Crown

Bernardo de Paula co-stars on the television series, Shameless, with award winning actress, Emmy Rossum. Over time, his hair loss became increasingly noticeable. This included hairline recession and baldness in the crown. As an actor, physical appearances are important for career success and even longevity.

Bernardo decided to take action and undergo an FUE hair restoration procedure performed by Dr. U. The results were phenomenal and extremely natural in appearance. He has even been able to sport a more youthful looking hairstyle, spiking his hair and combing hit forward, instead of towards the back.

And like other celebrities, he has embraced an open attitude in terms of sharing his results.

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Bernardo de Paula before and after his hair restoration surgery

Many stars in the entertainment industry remain more discrete about hair transplantation and cosmetic procedures in general.  There are actually long lists of celebrities who are believed to have undergone hair surgery. But no one knows for sure.

However, modern surgery has made it possible for actors, singers, models and other well known media figures to actually make baldness and thinning a thing of the past without the need to use wigs and hair pieces which can be detrimental for their careers.

 

Will Technology Bring Hair Transplant Cost Down?

Hair transplant cost figures are staggering for most people. And since technology generally helps bring prices down, will this make hair restoration surgery more affordable? Many individuals who suffer from baldness or thinning eagerly await the answer to this question. However, there are deeper issues to consider, besides a simple yes or no. For example, hair transplant surgeons require a great deal of  education and experience to not only extract follicles but also recreate natural looking hair growth. This contributes to the high price.

Dr. Umar, FUE hair transplant expert and developer of uGraft technology, believes that innovations should aim to  improve quality of a patient’s results instead of speeding up procedures to reduce cost, or compensate for experience.

Robotic Technology and Automated Follicular Unit Extraction

As scientists try to develop new treatments, hair transplantation remains as the most reliable way to achieve desired results.

Grafts are now extremely small and natural looking. And with Follicular Unit Extraction, which does not leave a linear scar more people are choosing to undergo this form of  hair transplant surgery.

Attempts to meet the rising demand for hair transplants have been made through two forms of technology:

(1) robotics

(2) automated, suction driven devices

Identifying the right direction and orientation of hair follicles is important for positioning the punch. Errors will lead to damaged and unusable grafts if the punch severs any part of the follicular unit.

Robotic FUE technology uses algorithms to ascertain important information needed for the safe removal of the follicles. This can be helpful for doctors who have less experience.

Suction driven tools have been developed to help increase the speed of hair transplant procedures.  The grafts are immediately pulled by the vacuum mechanics into a temporary holding container. Normally, the follicles are manually retrieved with forceps.

Neither of these technologies are able to offer the type of factory efficient, low cost hair transplantation that some people hope for.

These technologies also have limitations to consider. Robotics can only be used on the back of the head in dark haired patients. Suction driven extraction technology poses the risk of air drying, or dessication which is the leading cause of graft death.

UGraft is a follicle extraction technology developed by hair restoration surgeon, Dr. Sanusi Umar

While uGraft does not affect hair transplant cost, or address the rising demand for these types of procedures, it offers a much safer alternative to robotics and suction devices. It offers a greater level of safety for the hair follicles and prevents them from drying out.  UGraft features make it possible to remove many types of follicles (including those from the body) for large volume procedures. And a water assisted mechanism gently transports the grafts to a holding receptacle.

Hair Cloning Technology- Will They Lower Cost?

What is known as hair cloning is actually a form of cellular induction. Derma papilla cells at the base of the follicle have inductive properties which can cause epithelial cells to differentiate into follicles.
As far as cost is concerned,  hair cloning has yet to become refined enough to be offered to the public as an official procedure. Dr. Umar points out that there are many issues to test before this happens:

 

(1) how the human immune system will react to cloned hair follicles

(2) how to control the texture, growth angles, directions and orientations of the new hair

 

Results from such studies have yet to be available. Therefore, hair transplantation procedures remain as the best way to recover from hair loss.

 

Cost and Hair Transplant Doctors

The high cost of hair transplant procedures is due to the enormous level of detail that is required.

Dr. Umar often explains that the harvesting of follicles is just one phase of a hair restoration procedure. The storage, handling and insertions matter for growth and achieving a natural looking appearance. And these aspects cannot be replaced by technology.

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patient before and after hair restoration with Advanced FUE technology

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