Scalp MRIIn the never-ending quest for the perfect solution to male pattern balding, Japanese medical scientists have discovered an added advantage of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology in the assessment of hair growth or loss.

How does it work?

MRI equipment which has been developed to detect minuscule pathological changes in cellular structures in the brain which may indicate brain cancers, has been further engineered to recognise and take images of microscopic changes in the hair follicles – without the need for shaving.

Current methods

For people who believe that they are experiencing hair loss – and particularly for those who wish to reverse, stop, or slow the process – a second opinion which confirms their suspicions is an important step in their personal and emotional resolution process. Until now, that second opinion has been gained by consultation with a hair loss specialist. Hair loss specialists use various techniques to assess the rate and pattern of hair loss on each individual client. A visual assessment is a good place to start – but when assessments take place three months apart to allow for the natural hair growth cycle, memory may not be as reliable. Therefore, photoscans of the scalp which can be compared between visits, will provide a more reliable representation of hair loss over time. This technique can also be used to determine the effectiveness of topical hair loss solutions, such as Rogaine application.

Is it worth it?

Advanced technology such as the MRI system may sound like the most reliable and conclusive system for assessing the number of live hair follicles on any given scalp, but in reality, one has to consider how imperceptible the hair loss is in the first place, if this level of detail is required to notice it? Really – perception of hair loss in day-to-day life is achieved using the human eye. If it cannot be noticed at this level, is there any need to look any closer?

The MRI system – which, if it is utilised, will add to the costs of hair loss treatments – does not as yet offer any solutions to people experiencing hair loss. It can certainly confirm hair loss but while specialists, in consultation with clients, have been able to diagnose and confirm hair loss using current techniques successfully for many years, the MRI system – as exciting as it sounds – is not the breakthrough technology that people with hair loss problems may be hoping for.

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By Ian Watson

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