Say goodbye to baldness: New, low-cost tech can reactivate hair production
The tech reactivate hair-producing structures that have gone dormant.
"I think this will be a very practical solution to hair regeneration," said Xudong Wang, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
The devices don't cause hair follicles to sprout anew in smooth skin. Instead they reactivate hair-producing structures that have gone dormant, researchers said.
The technology can be used as an intervention for people in the early stages of pattern baldness, but it would not bestow cascading tresses to someone who has been "as bald as a billiard ball" for several years, they said.
Researchers noted that because the devices are powered by the movement of the wearer, they don't require a bulky battery pack or complicated electronics.
They are so low-profile that they could be discreetly worn underneath the crown of an everyday baseball cap, according to the researchers.
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Small devices called nanogenerators passively gather energy from day-to-day movements and then transmit low-frequency pulses of electricity to the skin.
That gentle electric stimulation causes dormant follicles to "wake up," the researchers said.
"Electric stimulations can help many different body functions," said Wang.
"But before our work there was no really good solution for low-profile devices that provide gentle but effective stimulations," he said.
Since the electric pulses are incredibly gentle and don't penetrate any deeper than the very outermost layers of the scalp, the devices don't seem to cause any unpleasant side effects.
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That is a marked advantage over other baldness treatments, like the medicine Propecia, which carries risks of sexual dysfunction, depression and anxiety, the researchers said.
In side-by-side tests on hairless mice, the devices stimulated hair growth just as effectively as two different compounds found in baldness medicines, they said.
"It's a self-activated system, very simple and easy to use. The energy is very low so it will cause minimal side effects," said Wang.