You might be thinking that hair loss is a modern issue. That man and some women have recently come up with the idea that baldness is an issue and that people of the generations past didn’t see it the same way. However, this is not the case!  

When did people first start to experiment with the idea of anti-hair loss treatment?  

Actually, since the beginning of recorded history, men and women have searched for cures for hair loss. For over 5.000 years, people have used countless herbal solutions, medical-sounding cosmetics, nutritional supplements, usually with very little or no results. Everything from electric shock devices to herbal methods has been alleged to work as anti-hair loss treatments.  

One of the oldest discovered methods for anti-hair loss treatment was found in Egypt, written on papyrus over 2.000 years ago. 

Hippocrates, in ancient Greece, conducted a study that stated: 

“Eunuchs are not affected by gout, nor do they become bald.” 

This statement proved factual. Castration before or shortly after puberty reduces testosterone and DHT levels in the blood to such degree that hair loss is prevented.  

Another case of historical figures being affected by baldness is the mighty Julius Caesar. At the height of his power, Caesar’s hairline was receding. After a few failed treatments, he decided that the best solution was to wear a laurel wreath around his head to hide his hair loss. The trademark laurel became a symbol of power and virility. 

Perhaps the longest-standing trend, however, not for hair-loss treatment but to cover it, is the wig. It originated in the 1600s when French King Louis XIII started wearing one to cover his bald spot. The trend quickly took a swing, and very soon, all French and English upstanding citizens, lawyers, prosecutors, admirals, governors, started wearing them. Today, that trend is still alive but with much smaller and less noticeable wigs!  

The modern ages approach to hair-loss  

While the world was getting more modern, so did our anti-hair-loss treatments! The beginning of the 1900s marked a new type of revolution. The anti-hat movement took a stride, and it proclaimed that wearing hats was the main cause of hair loss. They urged men all around the world to stop wearing their hats and let the air and sun touch their scalp so that it can rejuvenate it, and the hair-loss would stop. However, we all now know that hats are not to blame for hair loss. 

The 1920s became even more modern and more optimistic. This decade marks the beginning of using electricity as a tool to combat hair loss. In the United States, exotic gas-filled clear glass combs were raked across the scalp to stimulate hair growth. Amazingly, they were still sold into the 1950s.  

The first invention to actually work! 

Japanese dermatologist Dr. Shoji Okuda published his method for using hair transplant grafts to replace hair-loss from the scalp, eyebrow, mustache, and pubic hair areas. Dr. Okuda removed hair follicles from the back of his patient’s heads and transplanted the grafts to new locations on the head, thus looking to having more hair. Unfortunately, his work went unnoticed in the West because of World War 2. 

In 1952, Dr. Norman Orentreich, a dermatologist in the US, was doing a study regarding vitiligo. In this study, he was looking into the effects a patch of skin would experience if it were transplanted to a different part of the body. Here he noticed a very interesting thing, the patches of skin that grew hair, continued to do so even when transplanted into areas that normally do not grow hair. Initially, this theory was widely disregarded as bogus by the scientific community. However, in 1959 when he published his paper on donor dominance, he asserted that hair follicles taken from the back of the scalp could grow anywhere on the head. The hair follicles were genetically designed to keep growing hair, no matter their location. This method marked a new trend, and for the next 20 years, full-size grafts were the standard technique for hair transplants. 

The evolution of grafts 

Grafts initially consisted of full patches of hair growing skin being transplanted. Because dermatologists needed to work In multiple instances transplanting the patches, it gave the patients an “under construction” look. This issue was later fixed by the introduction of mini grafts and soon after that – micrografts. The micrografts gave the transplant a much more realistic look.  

The second invention that worked!  

In 1979 the second invention for anti-hair loss treatment that works was discovered as a side-effect. The medication Minoxidil – a pill designed to treat severe blood pressure, was discovered to have this interesting side-effect, however only in a small number of patients. It wasn’t until 1988 that the lotion Minoxidil was approved for treating hair loss. The lotion was originally sold only by prescription.  

In 1989 the medication Finasteride became the second prescription medication that was approved as a hair-loss treatment. It was originally and, to this day, sold as the brand name Propecia. It doesn’t guarantee full reverse of the process of hair loss; however, it does halt it, and in some cases, a small percentage grows back. Improvement has been noted in eighty-five percent of the men that tested the product.  

Lastly, in 1995, micrografting evolves into follicular unit micrografting. Follicular unit micrografting involves identifying and preserving the natural clusters of hair follicles from strips of donor tissue. This method is greatly minimizing the biggest risk from this transplant, which is damaging and risking the follicles themselves. Furthermore, all the grafts in this procedure are kept moist and chilled, which helps in reducing graft transplant failure.    

Today, we have learned the biggest milestones and most interesting moments in the anti-hair loss treatment history. From rubbing, shaping, reducing the scalp to drinking various mixtures to electrocuting people to reduce their hair-loss, it has been quite a journey. Thankfully, today we have methods such as the follicular unit micrografting and the Propecia medication, so we do not have to wear laurels to work!  


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