For thousands of years, men and women have been seeking solutions to hair loss. From concoctions by ancient herbalists to wigs to modern surgical procedures, treatments for hair loss are as old as civilization.
Topical Remedies for Hair Loss
Until the modern era, solutions for hair loss boiled down to two categories – topical treatments and things that camouflaged or concealed hair loss. The ancient Egyptians used a variety of concoctions that included ingredients such as hippopotamus fat, ibex fat, and porcupine hair, according to the Ebers Papyrus, a medical script from 1550 BCE.
Julius Caesar’s name means “abundant hair” which was ironic since he experienced hair loss. Caesar tried various remedies, including one, reportedly recommended by Cleopatra, that involved grinding up mice, horse teeth and bear grease. When that didn’t work, Caesar revived a Greek tradition – wearing laurel leaf crowns. While technically they’re a symbol of victory and that’s the public excuse for why he wore them, accounts by his contemporaries indicate that he took to wearing them all the time to conceal his hair loss, especially after alternatives like growing his hair long failed to do the job.
A hair loss remedy from 8th century China called for blending safflower oil, rosemary, herbs, and mashed animal testes to rub on the scalp. A yogic tradition from India recommended standing on your head, believing that the additional blood flow stimulates hair growth.
Wigs and toupees to conceal hair loss are also extremely old. King Louis XIII of France revived the popularity of wigs when he began wearing one to hide his increasing scalp. Instead of a discreet covering, Louis wore a massive wig with ornate curls, sometimes dusted with white powder. Louis’ use of wigs was the first obvious case of wig use in a royal court since the ancient Egyptians. It became all the rage in Europe for many years with both men and women wearing them. The habit migrated to the American colonies, though it lost favor after the Revolutionary War when styles favored by royals went out of fashion.
“Modern” Hair Loss Treatments
In the 19th century, traveling peddlers sold remedies that promised to fix all sorts of problems, including hair loss. Dubbed “snake oil salesmen” the concoctions were not effective and sometimes were even dangerous. Possibly the most famous was the patented Seven Sutherland Sisters’ Hair Grower, which was named for famous siblings with hair so long and luxurious hair – Victoria Sutherland’s hair was 7 feet long – that they even appeared on Broadway.
When the industrial revolution came along, so did new attempts to restore hair. The Allied Merke Institute created the Thermocap, which used heat and light to supposedly revive hair follicles. The Xervac by the Crosley Corporation promised that using suction would stimulate hair growth.
Surgical Hair Loss Solutions
The first surgical procedure to correct hair loss happened in Germany in 1822. Professor Unger and his medical school students successfully removed hair from one place on the scalp and transplanted it to another. Soon procedures involving skin flaps and grafts followed but results were painful and inconsistent.
In the 1930s a Japanese dermatologist, Dr. Okuda, was doing skin grafts for burn victims and realized that smaller, round transplants were beneficial for hair loss. This became known as the punch technique. Another Japanese dermatologist, Dr. Tamura, discovered in 1943 that even smaller grafts of just one to three hairs worked well, creating the foundation for work done today. Unfortunately, World War II meant that these doctors’ work was unknown in the west for many years.
In 1952, Dr. Orentreich realized that donor hair from the back and side of the head was resilient and would not succumb to male pattern hair loss even when transplanted to other parts of the head. He referred to this as donor dominance. While Dr. Orentreich’s theory was correct, his technique for the process was crude and led to an appearance commonly referred to as “hair plugs,” which gave the industry a poor reputation.
Follicle Unit Transplantation (FUT) followed, which involved transplanting a strip of scalp. While it looked better than the crude hair plug technique, it left a visible scar on the back of the head. Follicle Unit Excision (FUE) solved that problem. By transplanting only one to three follicles at a time with modern techniques, a more natural-looking result is possible.
The today the latest in hair restoration procedures is FUE using the ARTAS® robotic system for ultra-precise transplantation that involves minimal scarring. Dr. Gohil is an expert in robotic FUE using the ARTAS® robot.
RHRLI Offers the Most Modern Hair Restoration
If you’re considering hair restoration treatment, RHRLI is the premier facility on Long Island and in New York City. Dr. Baiju Gohil is a board-certified surgeon with many years of experience using state-of-the-art hair restoration techniques to create the hairline you want. In a free consultation, Dr. Gohil will evaluate your hair loss and determine whether you’re a good candidate for ARTAS® hair restoration. Contact RHRLI today.