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Thoughts from the 16th Annual ISHRS Scientific Meeting

A few weeks ago I attended the 16th annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS). The ISHRS is the most important organization in the field of hair restoration, and I’ve attended all of its meetings since the first in Dallas in 1993. At that first meeting, I was the Exhibit’s Chairman as well as the Founding Secretary of the society. Two years later I was elected President of the ISHRS. At this past meeting, I served as a member of the Board of Governors.

There were about 600 attendees from more than 35 countries throughout the world, and a wide range of subjects that affect the hair restoration field were discussed. This included everything from modern surgical techniques, low level laser therapy, and hair transplantation in women to psychiatric disorders, hair care treatments, and difficult hair restoration cases.

One of the most interesting lectures I attended was on the influence of hair care techniques on the development of alopecia. The presenter spoke mostly about the various hair care treatments of black women. She discussed the use of relaxers, the infrequency of shampooing, the inherent dryness and brittleness of hair in these women, and offered a number of suggestions to treat these patients when they come into our offices complaining of hair loss. I plan to expound on these in an upcoming blog entry.

Another interesting talk was about body dysmorphic disorder, in which a person sees something (or many things) about how they look as deformed. I know from 20+ years of experience that it is very important to identify these patients up-front so that they can be properly treated, which includes evaluation by a mental health professional. I have identified several such patients in my practice over the years and their initial treatment always includes a referral to a psychiatrist.

A doctor also discussed the HairDX genetic test for male and female pattern hair loss, which I use in my office. In last week’s issue of the Newport Mercury (9/17/08), a patient of mine and I were featured discussing this genetic test. I think it is a terrific screening test for men or women who have a family history of hair loss, but may not yet see much evidence of it in themselves. It affords my patients an opportunity to possibly see into the proverbial future. As with any testing, it is important to have it administered by a physician, especially by a specialist in hair restoration…someone like me! It is a simple Q-tip swab inside the cheeks of the mouth – totally painless. I welcome anyone who is interested in having the test to contact me. Until next time,

-Doc