Healthy Living

Thursday Feb. 12, 2004

Laser reverses pate's Fate: Hair loss treatment serves all ages

Amanda Myers

Picture inserts: 3 pictures. 1 Before and 1 after of a head. Before has a thinning hair, after has a thick head of hair. Picture number 3 is of bill Gaunitz at a desk.

Caption: Bill Gaunitz sits at his desk at Natural Hair Growth Centers of Arizona. Thanks to his laser treatments, Wahib Bennis, in the photos above, sports a full head of hair. (Photo by Amanda Myers.)

It sounds like something from another planet – lasers that regrow your hair.

But the Natural Hair Growth Centers of Arizona office in Scottsdale looks more like an upscale spa then a spaceship. The plush chairs, the flat-screen TVs to entertain you during your “laser treatments,” the feng shui design, the “scalp massages” room – all of this is the product of company President Bill Gaunitz's frustration with his own hair loss.

You'd never know it by looking at him, but 24-year-old Gaunitz started going bald at 17.

It was traumatizing, said Gaunitz. I started trying everything.

After seeing a television special about a laser that can stop hair loss, Gaunitz searched out a place in Florida where he was living that had such a laser.

It was $3,500 with no guarantee. I didn't care. said Gaunitz, who was willing to try anything.

The laser worked where other pills and creams had failed him. His hair loss stopped after six weeks and he estimates he grew back roughly 15 percent of his hair.

Gaunitz was so floored by the results, he quit his job a few months later in hopes of starting his own laser-hair center in Arizona. After researching different types of lasers, he bought one from a company in Australia. His first client was himself.

I started to use it and six months later I grew back most of my hair, said Gaunitz.

In January of last year, Gaunitz opened up the Natural Hair Growth Centers of Arizona and cloned the program that he had researched in Australia. He had no doubts about gaining a client base, confident that the results would speak for themselves.

When you see it work on yourself, you're convinced. Gaunitz said.

The treatment is available for men and women of all ages. Gaunitz's youngest client is a 13-year old girl, and his oldest is a 73-year-old woman from Sun City. She declined to discuss her experience, but Gaunitz said her treatment is going well.
Women typically don't want to talk about it. Said Gaunitz.

According to Gaunitz, roughly 60 million people in the U.S. Are living with some degree of hair loss. That's nearly 115 percent of the population. And approximately one-third of those people are women.

The first month in business, Gaunitz had just two clients. Now, more then a year later, the center boasts 22 clients and two offices with plans to open another office in Chandler in may, and two in California by the end of the year.

Wahib Bennis, 31, from Glendale is one of Gaunitz's loyal clients.

I've tried tons of other things, nothing really worked, said Bennis who started to lose his hair at 21.

Bennis started at Natural Hair Growth in September of last year and says he has now regrown most of his hair. “Some friends who haven't seen me in a long time are like, Wow. said Bennis.

The process of going from bald to beautiful is simple, Gaunitz said. First, clients are given a scalp analysis, which is basically a history of their hair loss, to see if they qualify as a candidate for the treatment.

Dis qualifiers for the laser treatment are few, but include those who have lost their hair from chemotherapy, as it can destroy the hair follicles. Also, anyone on medication that destroys hair can't go under the laster, but once they're off the medication, there's a good chance they can grow back the vast majority of their hair. Gaunitz said.

The second step for new clients is an interview. The questions are simple and range from nutrition habits and hair care to hair product usage.

we analyze every thing and supplement accordingly, said Gaunitz, who, in addition to the laser treatment, provides his clients with nutritional supplements to help stimulate healthy hair growth.

Gaunitz takes no risks before starting treatment. New clients are sent to a physician for an exam to make sure no other health problems stand in the way of hair regrowth.

Once they're given the go by the doctor, the client can begin his or her treatment. Twice a week for 30 minutes, the client will sit under a hood that emits the class A3, cool beam laser followed by 20 minutes of scalp therapy for follicle stimulation.

Gaunitz said the laser is the same type that is used for joint pain, arthritis, and fertility.

They'll feel a warm, tingly sensation, Said Gaunitz, adding that there is no pain from the laser.

Client Bennis said he never felt any discomfort.

Dr. Gene Carsia, a family practitioner in Scottsdale who is familiar with the Natural Hair growth Centers, said he's been impressed with the results he's seen from clients. It's a comprehensive approach. Carsla said. It's far safer then surgery, he said, adding that it's a noninvasive solution.

Carsia is so confident in the solution he's decided to be come a client.

Gaunitz also assures his clients there's not risk involved with the laser. The danger is equivalent to shining a laster pointer at yourself. Said Gaunitz.

The laser's purpose can be explained in two ways. Medically it stimulates roughly 54 percent more blood to the area. Holistically, it realigns cellular energy, Gaunitz said.

And adverse side-effects are rare, said Gaunitz.

Treatment continues twice a week for six months. The procedure price varies per case, but can be up to $5,000 for six months of treatment.

However, Gaunitz promises results.

we guarantee to stop hair loss and regrow visible hair.

I've never had to give anybody's money back. said Gaunitz.

Following the treatment clients are urged to take a dihydrogestosterone (DHT) inhibitor once a day to protect their regrown hair and prevent any future hair loss.

The DHT inhibitor is natural, and also includes antioxidants which Gaunitz says help other parts of the body as well as the hair.

Steve Blecher, 34, a store manager at a Walgreens in Sun City, has been losing hair for about four years now. He said he doesn't think it's a big deal.

It saves me $10 dollars a month said Belcher about the money he would usually spend on a haircut.

But Blecher said his friends who are losing their hair have tried Rogaine without much success. Blecher said he had never heard of the laser treatment before.

That'd be something I'd be interested in, said Belcher who said he didn't want any treatment that had a lot of upkeep involved.

Meanwhile, Bennis is almost done with his six-month treatment and is glad to have hair again.you feel younger and get so much more confidence in yourself.

Center Picture: Bill Gaunitz in one of the laser treatment chairs. Caption: Bill Gaunitz demonstrates the laser system he use to treat hair loss on his clients. He is president of Natural Hair Growth Centers of Arizona. Photo by Amanda Myers.