There is a belief that our hair acts like an antenna, catching the energy of space, and everything that we are is reflected in its state. Hair loss is perceived as painful, not only by women but also by men – hair symbolizes strength and attractiveness. When a formerly rich mop suddenly begins to thin out, many people go into a panic or become depressed. The professionals at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz’s Medical Health Centre can return the lost life force to your hair. Brigitte Bollinger’s arsenal incudes profound knowledge and the latest technologies to help deal with extremely severe cases.
– Dr. Bollinger, why has hair loss become such a widespread problem?
– There are many reasons: among them, bad environmental conditions, the stress of modern life, a lack of vitamins, internal diseases, the taking of medications, hormonal changes, etc. There is also a seasonal factor: twice each year, in spring and early winter, we lose more hair than usual – this is a natural occurrence, and it is normal. In the winter, this is caused by a lack of sunshine, which stimulates hair growth.
In each case, there are also individual factors. The first thing that needs to be done is to find the reasons that have led to the hair loss of a particular person. If one’s hair keeps falling out over a long period of time, then it is really advisable to see a doctor. Typically, this is one way in which the body indicates that it is lacking something. The other organs may not yet know it, but the hair and nails are the first to respond. It is not very good for the hair if one’s diet contains an excess of dietary fats and sweets, as this leads the body to produce many toxins. If the reason is a lack of vitamins or minerals, often B6, B12 or iron, we select a complex that will make up for the deficit. Sometimes it is enough to just balance one’s diet to stimulate growth in «dormant» or tired hair follicles.
Another common cause is hormonal failure or age- related changes. It should be mentioned that the basis of everything remains one’s genetic predisposition. If your father does not boast a thick head of hair, and your grandfather started balding early, it is unlikely that you will be sporting a magnificent mane in your old age. Androgenetic alopecia is characterized by genetic predisposition and is found in both men and women. Alopecia (hair loss) in men means that the hair has become sparse in the temporal part, at the back of the head, and, in women, in the area of the hair’s parting.
Until recently, medicine had practically nothing to offer to deal with this type of alopecia. Today, trichology has evolved to such a point that many patients achieve good results. We conduct laboratory examinations and blood tests, and based on the results, I develop a treatment regime. In each case it will be different.
– Is it true that bald men have increased testosterone levels?
– Yes. When there is too much testosterone, this is good for the sexual function, but not so good for the hair. We tried to comfort one man, who was very upset by his hair loss, by saying, «This will help you in your relations with women.» But this made him even more upset: «What women? Who will like me with my thinning hair?»
If we exclude an insufficiency of vitamins and hormonal causes, then the next factor is stress. When you are exhausted, your body needs energy, and does not make efforts to maintain «secondary» things.
It is necessary to carefully analyze your lifestyle, and today we have the ability to conduct very detailed examinations. I need to know whether a person has allergies or any problems with their skin, such as neurodermatitis or eczema. At first, you need to treat the disease: that is, to restore the health of the skin, because if the foundation is weak and not fertilized by food or vitamins, nothing can grow there.
– How do you start working with a client?
– I examine the skin under a microscope, to see where the losses are the greatest, to measure the distance between the hairs, and to find out the stage of development of the majority of the hair.
There are three phases of hair growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen. A hair lives for between 2 and 7 years in the first phase. If you pull out a hair at this stage, it will hurt. After that, the hair becomes weaker, and can be easily and painlessly pulled out. The catagen phase lasts only a few weeks. Next, there is a short transitional period – telogen – during which the hair falls out, and is replaced by a new one.
If everything is well, 80% of all hair should be in the anagen stage. When I see, through a microscope, a lot of hair in the catagen phase, then something is wrong, and we can assume that we have a hormonal failure. Of course, we confirm everything with blood tests and other investigations.
– In case of a hormonal failure, are hormones prescribed?
– The current level of pharmacology development allows me to select a delicate solution specifically for the hair. And if this should be a hormonal drug, it does not penetrate deeply into the body but affects only the skin and hair. In this way, we improve the foundation from which the hair grows, just as a gardener fertilizes the soil.
– Does the treatment of women and men differ?
– Yes, since a hormonal shortage of hair in women is associated with impaired levels of estradiol (the main female sex hormone), and, in men, with the level of androgen (the main male sex hormone). By the way, androgenic alopecia may also be indicative of chronic prostatitis.
During the development of a treatment regime, we also take into account the mentality of the client. For example, very few men can methodically take pills during an entire month to see results. Most often, this is how things go: he takes the pills for a few days, sees no new hair appearing, and decides to drop the whole procedure. For some men, the only option is to get a hair transplant, because they do not want to go through mesotherapy and receive all sorts of injections. But in any case, the condition of the skin must be improved, as this is the basis, the foundation. This triggers the growth of new hair. I always warn my clients: to deal with the problem of hair loss, you need to have patience.
– What kind of procedures do you offer?
– The recently introduced method of PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) is very effective – plasma therapy, the basis for which is the person’s own plasma enriched with platelets. After the plasma is collected, it is spun in a centrifuge and then administered to the patient. In this way, the regenerative properties of the platelet growth factors of the blood are activated, and they awaken hair follicles.
– In the last issue of SH, you talked about laser skin therapy. Could this help with hair loss?
– Yes, as a complementary treatment – it makes plasma therapy more effective. The principle is the same as in the case of the skin: the laser produces much tiny damage, energy penetrates deep into the skin, and this skin damage induces the skin to renew itself intensely. New cells are produced, and active division takes place. Five laser procedures give good results. Mesotherapy can be used as an additional measure – vitamin injections, hyaluronic acid.
– What can you say about shampoos? If the hair is falling out, which ingredients are obligatory?
– Preference should be given to shampoos that contain caffeine. These improve blood circulation, and more active blood circulation better nourishes the scalp. If we talk about additional methods, then massage and self-massage will also help, but this should not be too intense, to prevent damage to the roots.
I want to emphasize that patients need to know that the hair treatment will take time. They need to be patient. The results do not appear instantly: you start the treatment, and only after some time passes do you start to notice new hairs beginning to grow – these can be felt, and in a few weeks you can see the results. Under no circumstances should the treatment be abandoned at that point. It is necessary to see it through to the end. Usually, the process takes about three months, and in some cases up to six months. But if a man checks for results every day, he cannot assess the changes. Therefore, I shoot pictures which show the transformation.
– And if a man lost his hair a few years ago, and simply ignored it, is it still possible to do something, or has the hair been lost permanently?
– There is some built-in time limit: about 7 years. Due to various factors, the hair follicles could have «fallen asleep». But if treatment is started, hair growth can be renewed, even in those cases when hair loss was determined by genetic factors. They lead to the fact that the roots «forget» to produce new cells, but we can remind them. But if more than 10 years have passed since the hair’s loss, we can say goodbye forever to the idea of regrowing the hair. It is important not to miss the moment when treatment is still possible.
We are also beginning to work with stem cells, and we will be doing injections. Cells are taken from the person himself (not animals, nor a donor), then frozen at minus 192 degrees, and can be stored for a long time. The treatment can then be carried out any time.
– Do you use Bad Ragaz’s thermal water in your treatments?
– Of course. The Bad Ragaz spring contains many nutrients and minerals that our body needs to produce vitamins. You can come here on vacation, stay in a hotel, and undergo hair treatment. If necessary, we can adjust the menu and create a diet that will help restore the hair. In this way, you combine rest and treatment.
MD, is a doctor of the Swiss Medical Association – Specialist of Department for Dermatology and Plastic Surgery, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz Medical Health Center. She graduated from the Medical Faculty of the University of Munster in Munster, Westphalia (University of Munster) and received a medical practice license in 1992. In 1996 she became a specialist in the field of Dermatology and Venereology. She received additional qualifications in allergology (1997) and phlebology (1998). From 1998 to 2014 she worked at the University Hospital of Munster as a dermatologist specializing in laser therapy and outpatient operations. In 2015-2016 she was in private practice in the field of dermatological surgery at Vorberg Beauty Clinics in Munster.