By Debra Jaliman, MD
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about hair loss and effective treatments for it. I mentioned hair transplants as a method that is rapidly evolving, giving most patients truly natural-looking hair. Until now, hair follicles were usually taken from the back of the head and transplanted to other areas of the scalp. According to a new study out of California, leg hair may work just as well, if not better, in cases of male pattern baldness. One of the problems with hair transplants is that people with hair loss often have limited donor sites. Leg hair transplants may resolve this problem.
In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Sanusi Umar, author of the report, said his results on two different male patients showed that leg hair transplants made for softer, more natural hairlines, since leg hair is finer than the coarser hair on the back of the head. Harvesting and transplanting the hair follicles is quite a lengthy process–about eight hours under local anesthesia, with breaks for doctor and patient. And any procedure that takes up so much time is certain to be costly. This technique is new and has only been tried on a small number of patients, so I wouldn’t rush out to get it just yet. But it would certainly seem to hold promise, especially for males. For women, there is very little information, because Dr. Umar has only performed this procedure on one woman.
Enzymes in skin care are also in the news. Enzyme supplements are usually sold in health food stores as digestive aids, but lately they’ve also been turning up in creams and serums, too. I personally like products that contain enzymes, because enzymes seem to work well as gentle exfoliants, digesting dead skin cells and revealing a more glowing, youthful skin.
In a way, they’re an old idea that is new again, thanks to modern technology. Pineapple and papaya enzymes are excellent meat tenderizers, as good cooks have known for generations. But fruit enzymes are also good for the skin. In past centuries, women put crushed pineapple or strawberries on their faces, and the fruit enzymes went to work, clearing their complexions. Nowadays, skin care products contain stabilized enzymes that work far more effectively than the homemade fruit remedies our great-grandmothers used.
Bottom line: Enzymes improve skin texture and add radiance, while leg hair, unwanted or not, may hold promise for hair transplants.