Monday, September 29, 2014

The LeBron James Hair Mystery - Solved

Photo by PR Photos

Only a couple of weeks ago, the media was speculating about LeBron James' miraculously full hairline in his Sports Illustrated cover. Now that hairline is dwindling before our very eyes, and many are wondering, what the heck happened?

Last summer, I wrote about a suspicious scar at the back of LeBron's head during Game 6. This looked very similar to the long linear scar line that occurs after a strip-harvest hair transplant surgery (this scar is caused by the surgeon having to remove a strip of scalp, i.e., the 'donor area,' in order to supply the follicles for transplantation - and that's why I always encourage patients to seek out the more modern NeoGraft FUE instead). At the time, this seemed to suggest that LeBron had undergone an old-fashioned strip-harvest surgery; after all, his hairline was looking much fuller than it had for some time. However, now that the frontal hair line is thinning again, it's clear that he did not undergo hair transplantation - at least not at the front of his scalp. Transplanted hair is permanent - it doesn't fall out because of male pattern hair loss.

So what is happening with LeBron's on again, off again hair?

Unless the images are being photoshopped, which I don't think they are in every case, the most likely explanation is that LeBron has been using a camouflage powder (like Toppik) to make his hairline appear fuller. It's also possible that he's been using topical minoxidil (either over-the-counter or a compounded prescription version like Formula 82M) and simply stopped using it - although it generally takes about six weeks before we see hair fallout from discontinuing treatment. 

For those who wonder if his hair transplant is "wearing off" or failing him, sorry, but that's just not how it works. 

Mystery solved.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bald and Beautiful - Kudos to Joan Lunden

Photo by PR Photos

Joan Lunden has gone bald for the cover of People magazine! 

The former co-host of Good Morning America recently announced she is battling breast cancer and has begun to experience hair loss as she undergoes treatment. This is an incredibly brave and compassionate act, and it should be commended. According to her interview on ABC, Ms. Lunden decided to be photographed without her wig for the cover in order to "help others." 

I've treated a number of cancer survivors pro bono over the years, and therefore Ms. Lunden's actions are especially touching. My heart goes out to anyone who is battling cancer and coping with the often challenging side effects of treatment. Unfortunately, in some cases the hair does not fully grow back after chemotherapy - or at least not to the same quality that it was originally. This is particularly true for older patients. But there is hope. Patients can utilize certain treatments, like low level laser therapy, to improve the quality, fullness and appearance of the hair. And many doctors have also begun using "Cold Cap Therapy," a new treatment that may help cancer patients protect their hair while undergoing chemotherapy.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bruce Jenner's Hair

Photo by PR Photos has a great retrospective of Bruce Jenner's changing hair-do over the years, which is worth checking out for anyone who follows the Kardashians. But what struck me is the former Olympic champion's current hair status. 

At 64 years old, his hair is in relatively good shape. Admittedly, there have been rumors of hair transplants in the past; however, if that's true, the surgeon could probably have done a better job as the part line still has a fair amount of recession.

Jenner has faced a lot of speculation recently over whether or not he's undergoing gender reassignment treatments - and some media outlets have pointed to his long hair as evidence that he is trying to feminize his looks. I don't know about that, and perhaps it's time to cut the guy a little slack. However, if he is trying to grow his hair longer in order to create a more youthful look, he could be using nutritional supplements like Viviscal to help give it a boost, as well as low level laser therapy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why I'm a Fan of Demi Lovato's New Hair Extensions

Photo by PR Photos

Demi Lovato, the 22-year old singer and actress, is almost as well known for her constantly changing hair styles as she is her amazing vocals. Now, she's going one step further by announcing a new line of hair extensions called Secret Color.

Anyone who's read this blog or my media interviews knows that I'm highly critical of hair extensions. In many cases, extensions aren't applied properly or are used too often and the artificial weight upon the hair can strain the underlying follicles, resulting in a permanent type of hair loss known as 'traction alopecia.' Over the years, a number of celebrities have been spotted with bald spots and hairline recession as a result of extensions - one of the most well-known examples is Naomi Campbell.

However, Secret Color is different from traditional hair extensions - it isn't clipped or glued onto the hair, instead it is attached by a simple headband which doesn't put pressure on the hair strands or the underlying follicles. This unique design, which is patent-pending, makes it possible for women to wear these extensions without the risks of causing long-term damage to their hair.

So, while I'm not a fan of traditional hair extensions, I do support Ms. Lovato's safer, healthier design. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Is James McAvoy Going Bald?

Photo by PR Photos

In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, 35-year old Scottish actor James McAvoy revealed that he will soon be going bald for the latest installment of the "X-Men" series. 

According to the Huffington Post interview:

"I'll be older in this one," McAvoy, who plays Professor Charles Xavier in the "X-Men" franchise, told host Alyona Minkovski. "[And] I think I'm losing my hair finally. And, yeah, that's kind of all I know."

A bald McAvoy? Well, we knew it had to happen eventually to the young Professor X. 

However, in real life, McAvoy's hair line appears to be in fairly good shape, with a bit of temporal recession. Hopefully, the actor won't share the same fate as his character - and as long as he's proactive about his follicle health, he won't.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What is Trichotillomania?

Photo by PR Photos

London's Daily Mail newspaper ran a story earlier this week about one woman's 30-year battle with trichotillomania (TTM), which is worth checking out. It's estimated that two to 10 million Americans could suffer from this psychological disorder in which the person compulsively pulls out their hair, eyelashes or eyebrows.

TTM is a condition that should be taken seriously, as it could be a sign of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other obsessive-compulsive habits. Additionally, those who have TTM and fail to get treatment can suffer permanent hair loss in the affected areas - which could be in the center of the scalp, as is common with many women, or even the eyelashes or eyebrows. I've treated a number of patients over the years who suffered from traction alopecia as a result of untreated TTM. One of them, who required eyelash transplants as a result, appeared with me on ABC's Good Morning America several years ago. Here's the clip.

So why is Olivia Munn's photograph at the top of this article? She admitted that she suffers from TTM a couple of years ago. Other stars that have been reported to suffer from it at one time or another are Charlize Theron, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Megan Fox, among others.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Is Shaving 'Down There' Bad for Your Health?

Photo by PR Photos

It's been suggested that Jennifer Aniston is a fanatical devotee of waxing, along with countless other celebrities, and it's certainly no secret that the "Brazilian" and "Hollywood" craze has been mainstream for quite some time now - with some estimates claiming as many as 80% of American women engage in some form of pubic shaping. 

But could this practice endanger your health?

A new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that 60% of those who shave 'down there' have at least one health complication as a result, including a higher risk for certain STDs, such as warts and herpes. 

As a medical professional, I've long been concerned about the waxing trend, and spoke with my local ABC 10 news channel about it a few years ago. As I explained at that time, too aggressive removal of the pubic hair (via waxing) can cause punctate bleeding, and shaving it can also result in tiny nicks and cuts. All of this leaves you more prone to infection. In fact, in the operating rooms of most modern hospitals today, they don't remove all of the hairs from the surgical area, due to these concerns.

So waxers, be careful. Avoid sex if you experience breaks in the skin down there, be aware of the risks, don't overdo it, and make sure you go to a professional facility that follows sanitary guidelines.