Meg Farris / Eyewitness Medical Reporter
It's one of the top questions dermatologists get asked about, what can be done for thinning hair.
Now a new clinic promises new hair for almost all of its clients.
Barry Boudreaux, 45, of River Ridge began seeing male pattern thinning hair ten years ago in his mid 30's. It was a familiar genetic site.
"When I was younger and I was growing up with all my father and my uncles, I didn't know grown men had hair," said Boudreaux.
But now he's turned to a newly opened clinic in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, for help.
"Some people have said, 'Have you changed your hair?' I haven't grown anymore hair but I think my hair, my scalp's more stimulated. I don't feel that I'm losing that much on my pillow," Boudreaux explained.
Sarah Hopper of Metairie is only 23, but in the last few years noticed her hair was changing.
"I'd take a shower and it was just like increasing like when I'd wash my hair, how much hair would come out" said Hopper.
She too turned to treatment at the new Hair Loss Control Clinic of Louisiana.
"It definitely feels more full, thicker. I'm much, much happier with it, feel more confident," Hopper said.
Hair Loss Control Clinic (HLCC) is new to Southeast Louisiana, but has been around for 25 years, headquartered near Albany in upstate New York. There are more than 130 affiliated clinics in 29 countries. They focus on not one treatment, but a multi-therapeutic approach.
"We've had 97 percent success in regrowing hair," said Pete Zito, a certified hair loss consultant and President of HLCC of Louisiana.
Clinics use prescription pills such as Propecia, and several strengths of topical medication such as Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, saying theirs is less irritating to the scalp. They say their conditioners, shampoos, supplements, and solutions, cleanse and give nutrition to the scalp with DHT inhibitors, ingredients that block hormonal action that causes male and female pattern baldness called androgenetic alopecia. Also in their arsenal, is a low level laser with multiple diodes. They say the technology is cleared as safe and effective to regrow hair.
"We are in the process of doing a study right now ourselves, through our clients, and the preliminary numbers in that study are in the high 90 percent of people using the combination therapy of getting results," explained William Blatter, President and CEO of HLCC in the corporate office in Latham, New York.
Independent dermatologists who specialize in treating hair loss, believe patients should first get a medical diagnosis to make sure it's genetic pattern thinning and not temporary shedding from having surgery, a baby, or extreme stress, or that it's not a gland, hormonal, immune problem, or even cancer.
"The other thing we see is infections in the scalp from hair techniques, from weaves, from perms that are done irregularly. I have a number of patients that I've seen that have burned their scalp and that has led to hair loss," explained New Orleans dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo.
Chemical burns from salon relaxers need prompt treatment by a doctor with injections or the scalp will permanently scar blocking hair growth. The only cure, transplant surgery. The doctors also use a drug called Spironolactone for women with pattern thinning.
And they say the prescription medicines HLCC uses do work. And while they say the laser shows some promise, the hype may be ahead of the science.
"We really only have two publications so far investigating its use specifically for hair. One of them I published in my fellowship. It was a small study. We had seven patients and we did find that there was some improvement but the results were not necessarily statistically significant. And it wasn't for all patients. It was just a little bit of an average in the increase in the thicker hairs," said Dr. Nicole Rogers, a Metairie dermatologist and hair surgeon.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that with early hair loss of a purely genetic androgenetic alepecia mechanism, that we might see some improvement with this. I do not think it would do anyone any harm," said Dr. Lupo.
And the doctors say the science is very weak that saw palmetto or any ingredients in shampoos increasing hair growth.
Still the Hair Loss Control Clinic says its products help the laser penetrate better and stands by its results of using several treatments at once.
"Excellent results. We have before and after comparisons. Our nurse takes pictures though a special camera on a microscope and you can see definite, quite an improvement. Our clients are very happy," said Dr. Michael Fuhrman of Delmar, New York. His specialty is in family practice and urgent care. He is HLCC's medical director.
The company says the staff has access to doctors and nurses to answer questions. And if pattern baldness is not obvious, they will not make a medical diagnosis.
When asked if he ever recognized a medical condition and sent a client to a doctor, Zito responded, "We have. We have before."
For Boudreaux, he's satisfied.
"It's for me and it's, you know, at the end of the day, I'm the one looking in the mirror at myself. My wife does a good job of taking care of herself so the least I can do is give a little bit back to her," said Boudreaux.
Propecia is prescription pills only for men to regrow hair. But Dr. Lupo says there is also one now for women called Spironolactone.
Also HLCC has a laser comb that can be used at home.
HLCC of Louisiana: 504-304-HAIR http://www.hlccnola.com/index.html