The Hair Apparent

Hair loss is a serious issue for millions of people. Four years ago, the Food and Drug Administration estimated that more than 40 million men and 20 million women experienced some form of hair loss. According to The Washington Post, American hair loss sufferers spend more than $3.5 billion a year to treat the condition.

Those awful hair plugs. Let’s face it: Those are the first things you notice when you see Joe Biden on television. It doesn’t matter what the Delaware senator and Democratic vice presidential hopeful is saying. Or wearing. You can’t help staring at The Hair – and the lack of it on the back of his head.

Excerpts from original article:

“I feel like throwing a rock at the TV,” says Dr. Glenn Charles, a Boca Raton cosmetic surgeon who has been performing hair transplantations for 10 years. “It’s killing me.”

It’s no secret Biden got hair plugs for his 1988 presidential run. Back then, most guys with plugs looked like life-sized Ken dolls.

“When you saw someone, your eyes would go straight to the top of their head,” says Mario Mazza, president of Hair Replacement Systems in Palm Beach Gardens. “You could see all these circles on their head sprouting hair.”

In fact, local hair transplant experts say it looks as if Biden has had a few more sessions. His hair is much lighter, and the plugs look better.

“From what I’ve seen, his hair’s been improved,” Mazza says. “He may have had one or two more grafts instead of using hair plugs.”

Hair loss is a serious issue for millions of people. Four years ago, the Food and Drug Administration estimated that more than 40 million men and 20 million women experienced some form of hair loss. According to The Washington Post, American hair loss sufferers spend more than $3.5 billion a year to treat the condition.

Thanks to better medicine, improved technology and more surgical options, men don’t have to look like Ken dolls anymore.

We asked three local hair experts – Mazza, Dr. Charles and Dr. Ricardo Mejia in Jupiter – to give us the lowdown on the top treatments:


Who should do it: Men or women who want a full head of hair and have enough donor hair on the back of their head to transplant. People who have self-esteem issues because of their lack of hair.

Cost: For a quality job, Mejia says, expect to shell out about $7,500. You can do it cheaper, but as he points out, “you either want to buy a new Mercedes or a beat-up Volkswagen.”

Advantages: It’s permanent.

Disadvantages: It’s a surgical procedure that comes with a risk of injury to a nerve, artery or blood vessel. “That sounds scary,” Mejia admits, “but the risk is very minimal.”

The bottom line: “It’s your own real, living, growing hair,” Mejia says. “And you don’t have to maintain it and treat it. In one treatment, we can transplant three or four thousand grafts, depending on the donor area.”


Who should use one: Men or women who want to see a noticeable difference immediately. People who have a lot of baldness and a very limited donor area. Older people who are not that active.

Cost: From $3,000 to $5,000, plus a monthly maintenance fee.

Advantages: You can buy a wig, er, hair system, as thick as you want it. They look more natural than they used to. “There was a stigma where everybody made fun of them and that they always fly off,” Mazza says. “That doesn’t really happen anymore.”

Disadvantages: Those monthly maintenance fees add up. The hairs eventually go brittle and fall out. “When you’re wearing a hair system for 15 years,” Charles says, “you’ll have a heart attack when you find out how much money you’ve spent on it. It’s like renting vs. buying.”

The bottom line: If you can afford to rent and don’t mind wearing hair that’s glued to your scalp, go for it.


Who should use it: Men who are starting to suffer hair loss or notice some hair thinning. “It’s more suitable for younger people who have a strong family history of hair loss and who have something to salvage,” Dr. Charles says.

Cost: Anywhere from $60 to $85 for a 30-day supply.

Advantages: Slows the hair loss process. “Some patients have experienced significant hair regrowth,” says Dr. Ricardo Mejia, a Jupiter dermatologist. “It will also maintain the hair you have.”

Disadvantages: Less than 1 percent of men experience such sexual side effects as decreased libido, difficulty in maintaining an erection or decreased sperm ejaculate. None of those potential side effects, however, are permanent. Once you stop taking the pill, they eventually go away.

The bottom line: It’s a maintenance pill, not a magic pill cure.


Who should use it: The same men who are considering Propecia. Women can use it, too.

Cost: About $20 for a three-month supply.

Advantages: Increases hair growth. Also can work in combination with hair transplantation to potentially grow hair follicles.

Disadvantages: Can cause itchy or dry scalp. It’s a topical treatment that you have to rub on your scalp once or twice a day.

The bottom line: There are no major side effects, and the treatment is considered effective.


Who should do it: People who are reluctant to undergo surgery or have tried Rogaine and Propecia and have not experienced much hair growth.

Cost: Six to eight treatment sessions at a clinic can run about $3,000. If that’s too expensive, there are always handheld laser combs that cost about $300.

Advantages: “It’s perfectly safe,” Mazza says. “There are no documented side effects that we know of.”

Disadvantages: It’s expensive.

The bottom line: You might spend more money, but you’re likely to see results. “Most of the positive results we hear are regarding hair characteristics,” Dr. Charles says. “People say, ‘My hair feels thicker. My hair has more body. I had dry scalp, and laser therapy cleared it up.’ ”


1. Age: You grow less hair; it gets thinner and tends to break more easily.

2. Heredity: In most cases, hair loss is inherited. This is called male-pattern or female-pattern hair loss.

3. Stress: That can include physical stress from surgery, illness or high fever.

4. Poor diet: Especially if you’re not getting enough iron or protein.

5. Hair damage: You can hurt your hair by pulling it back too tightly, wearing tight braids or ponytails or using curling irons or dyes.

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