It is guaranteed that you already know that hair loss treatments, and the marketing that comes with it, is an absolute travesty of human nature. For decades, and even centuries, man has played on the fears and low self esteem of others by promising luscious locks of hair, and the rewards it brings with it, through the use of various lotions, potions and gadgets that are of course never free. This is true in many aspects of life but the market occupied by the hair loss sufferer has been a particular fertile arena which continues to attract those wishing to make easy money. You see it every day, the reasons why you need to look your best and the solutions that are available to achieve it.
Researching and learning about hair loss treatments, what works and what doesn't work, is still extremely difficult as marketers have infiltrated, and even currently drive, the online world with regards to technology and convenience. The very nature of the internet and what it was initially intended to be is long gone and it is marketing (and porn) that drives innovation. That's why I'm glad to see an online resource that does a pretty good job of helping you to weed through the hype regarding hair loss treatments. I've been doing this myself for almost two decades and my colleagues in the field, such as Spencer Kobren, have been doing it for even longer, but when I see an online resource with a large reach and high traffic get it right, I like to think that my job will be just a little bit easier because of it. I'm talking about the website reviews.com.
My Review of a Review of Hair Loss Treatments
Several weeks ago I was contacted by the folks at Reviews.com and they wanted me to look at a recent article they published about hair loss treatments to get my take on whether or not I thought it was worthwhile for my readers to know about. I'll admit, I didn't give it much thought and I skimmed over it to see what it was about. When I was done, I went back to the top of the article and read the entire thing. It was actually pretty good and I could tell that whomever put this together really did do their research and it turns out to be one of the better articles online talking about what works and what doesn't. But it isn't perfect.
I had some issues with what was being presented. Some of it was nitpicking by me, but some other points I feel should have been better researched. For one, they talk about how telogen effluvium is a medical condition when in fact it is the result of a medical condition; several conditions, actually, and it can be caused by stress or as the result of some sort of shock to the system, including hair transplant surgery. It's not a big deal, especially in the context it is presented, because the message is solid.
They go on to talk about how they narrowed down the list of what hair loss treatments work vs. what doesn't and eliminated 180 hair loss treatments as being completely bogus and that there are only three hair loss treatment that are "FDA cleared" which is not entirely correct. Those hair loss treatments are Rogaine, Propecia and laser "treatments". The article goes on to say that studies were presented to verify their efficacy, which is also not entirely true. The truth is that both Rogaine and Propecia were FDA approved which means millions of dollars were spent on real clinical trials involving thousands of participants over the course of several years. The FDA approved the drug which gave the manufacturers the freedom to say that the FDA says that their respective medications do what they claim to do and that they are safe. To say that a hair loss product or treatment is FDA "cleared" however it an entirely different validation. FDA "cleared" means that the product, and it only applies to medical devices, gained 510K clearance which means that the FDA acknowledges two things.
- It is safe.
- It is no different, on an engineering and mechanical level, than any other product on the market that was grandfathered into FDA clearance in 1972 by the United States Congress.
Before 1972, the FDA has zero authority over medical devices but Congress recognized that there were too many devices on the market with too many wild claims so they decided to regulate the medical device industry and they gave the FDA authority to do so in 1972. The problem was that there were so many products on the market the FDA couldn't hope to pull every product off the shelf and start testing each one to see if they did what they claimed they did. So basically everything on the market was just automatically given clearance but everything from that point has to be reviewed.
"But Joe, the laser companies submitted their studies proving that lasers work."
The problem with this claim is that the studies were irrelevant. The only FDA review requested was for the 510K clearance discussed earlier and when 510K is requested the FDA doesn't really pay attention to any studies of efficacy. They just want to know it isn't going to cook someone's liver so while the claims that studies were provided may be true, it is not true that any studies influenced the outcome of the 510K clearance being granted based on efficacy. If one reads the laser hair loss treatment websites carefully they can see that the wording is very clever. There was however a series of trial conducted which did indicate that there was a statistically significant improvement from the use of laser combs but unfortunately for a study or trials to be valid, at least in my opinion, the study has to be independent. The studies that showed positive efficacy was funded by the laser company. The equipment was provided by the laser company which included the control sham devices as well as the monitoring equipment and some of the doctors in the study were compensated by the laser company as well so to say there was potentially some bias at play is an understatement.
I will say however that while, in my opinion, there is no solid evidence that lasers work I do have some very respectable doctors that I know personally telling me behind the scenes that they've seen positive results so I am open to the possibility of adding laser treatments the the list of valid hair loss treatments. There is more to write on the subject so if any of you wish to know more you can ask in the comments section.
The article goes on to explain some real truth about hair loss treatments in that they are treatments only, not cures. This has always been part of my message so I can obviously get behind this. I always say that if you stop a treatment and you don't lose more hair then that treatment wasn't a treatment; it was a cure. In the end, the article is a positive one with good information overall and I commend the team at reviews.com on the research they conducted over the course of six weeks. It's good information for anyone to have in their arsenal.