At 47, Shawn Ogg says his family genetics had started to catch up with him.
"Baldness runs in my family, so I knew at some point I'd start losing hair," says Ogg.
To fight back, Shawn is strapping on a helmet and preparing to do battle. It's a new device called Theradome, just approved by the FDA to help re-grow hair. Dr. Sara Wasserbauer is a hair loss specialist in Walnut Creek, and reviewed data from the company's clinical trial.
"The earlier you start, the better the data is," says Wasserbauer. "Not only does it thicken up the hair but it moves them into the growth phase. And the more hair you have in the area the more it will grow."
The helmet is imbedded with approximately 80 low powered laser diodes. Light waves are absorbed into the scalp during 20 minutes sessions twice a week. The technology is similar to large, stationary laser systems, which are believed to stimulate blood circulation to the hair follicles, as well as increasing cell metabolism. The Theradome is the first of its kind to be approved for home use.
"We've known since 1967 that lasers grow hair. We haven't known the exact dose, lasers or l.e.d.'s haven't known the exact mechanism, what's happening that's causing laser light to grow hair," explains Wasserbauer.
Theradome is headquartered in Pleasanton, and manufactures the helmets in the South Bay. They were approved first for women last fall, and the company is expecting to get final approval for men in the next few months. Ghazal gill was an early user, who says she had experienced thinning hair.
"After three to four weeks into I saw there wasn't a lot of hair falling out," says Gill.
Still not certain according to Wasserbauer, is whether the lasers would produce significant results in patients experiencing complete baldness, or with very little hair left on their scalp. Still, the company says data from trials in both men and women showed a consistent increase in both thickness and hair growth. These before and after pictures show Ogg's results, which he says were noticeable after just a few months.
"My hairdresser even said I'd started to get growth. So, it worked for me," he says.
The helmet retails on the Theradome website for about $800, which the company says is competitive with the cost of oral or topical treatments over the long term.
Written and produced by Tim Didion