Unique treatment could help women with hair loss

Aging often brings on hair loss, and not just in men. The problem with female hair loss is that treatment options are more limited, but an old therapy for damaged joints is now being touted as a remedy for hair loss in both genders.

About 15 years ago, Pam Moschilli's thick head of hair began to thin.

"If you don't feel good about yourself, you know, you try to fix it," said Moschilli. "You get dressed up, you go out, you do your hair and it just never looked right."

More than half of women experience some degree of hair loss by the age of 70, but company, in this case, is hardly a source of comfort.

"It's acceptable for a man to be bald. It's kind of sexy now... you know? But for a woman, it's not," said Moschilli.

So about a year ago, she sought out a treatment she'd heard about on a talk show. For decades, Platelet-rich plasma or PRP has been used to help heal orthopedic injuries, but using PRP to grow hair, it's a field that's in infancy, says Dr. Matthew LoPresti of Leonard Hair Transplant Associates in Newton.

"We take the patient's own blood and spin that down so that we have just the PRP plasma," said LoPresti.

That plasma, which is rich in human growth factors, is then injected into the patient's numbed scalp.

"With those growth factors the belief is that it's targeting a constant stimulation of hair so it stays in the growth cycle," he said.

Keeping the hair that remains is the goal of PRP but Pam Moschilli did better than that.

"I've had a lot of growth in through the temple area and the back of the head," said Moschilli.

PRP may especially be a welcome alternative for women with hair loss.

The drug finasteride regrows hair, but it's linked to birth defects. Women can use minoxidil but unwanted body hair can result.

Platelet-rich plasma therapy isn't cheap and there aren't reams of scientific data proving it works, but the idea in theory that is should work may be enough to pull patients in.

And for Pam Moschilli, it did work.

"Every time I go to the hairdressers it's how's the back doing? Is the hair growing?" she said.

At the moment, it is.