Norman Orentreich, Force Behind Hair Transplants, Dies at 96

By the 1950s, males had been in search of — and failing to search out — a treatment for hair loss since a minimum of 1550 B.C., when docs in historical Egypt beneficial anointing bald scalps with the fats of a Nubian ibex or a crushed black lizard boiled in oil.

Then alongside got here a younger dermatologist named Norman Orentreich, who tried an experiment: transplanting hair from the again of the pinnacle to the scalp. And lo, the transplanted hair grew.

Thanks partly to his discovery, a multibillion-dollar international hair transplant trade now exists to offer long-term aid for receding hairlines. His breakthrough additionally established him as a maverick in beauty drugs and a magnet for media protection, and it in the end embedded hair plugs in American tradition as a totem of male midlife crises — in addition to the butt of late-night tv jokes.

Dr. Orentreich (pronounced OR-en-trike), who died on Jan. 23 at 96, went on to develop different beauty countermeasures for growing older, however not with out controversy. Considered one of his novel therapies — injecting tiny droplets of liquid silicone within the pores and skin to clean facial wrinkles — raised considerations amongst a few of his friends and drew regulatory scrutiny.

Along with transplants and injections, Dr. Orentreich usually prescribed face lotions and different merchandise of his personal devising.

In 1967, his views on sustaining youthful pores and skin — and his standing as a skin-care guru to many boldfaced names — attracted splashy protection in Vogue journal. The article was headlined, “Can Nice Pores and skin Be Created?”

Quickly, Leonard A. Lauder of Estée Lauder, the cosmetics firm based by his mom, recruited Dr. Orentreich — together with the Vogue editor, Carol Phillips, who had written the article — to assist create Clinique, a scientific skincare line for younger ladies.

Launched in 1968, the model got here in antiseptic-looking packages and used clinical-sounding phrases like “allergy-tested.” Its magnificence counter salespeople wore white lab coats. Dr. Orentreich even helped devise a magnificence counter “Clinique Pc,” a tool utilizing algorithms to find out a buyer’s pores and skin sort.

Clinique rapidly grew to become a division retailer blockbuster. Its best-selling product, Dramatically Completely different Moisturizing Lotion, was primarily based on one in every of Dr. Orentreich’s formulation, and shopping for it at a magnificence counter grew to become a ceremony of passage for a lot of teenage women.

It was the second multibillion-dollar market that he had a hand in advancing. At present, American magnificence merchandise that apply concepts from dermatology to advertise pores and skin well being or deal with issues like pimples are beauty trade staples.

“We had been the primary, we had been the inventor of it — and anybody else is a wannabe,” Mr. Lauder, now the chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Firms, stated in a phone interview.

Dr. Orentreich obtained an introduction to drugs after he was drafted into the Navy throughout World Battle II. From 1943 to 1945, he was stationed on the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the place he served within the Navy Medical Corps as a pharmacist’s mate, serving to medical officers study recruits.

After the warfare he attended what’s now the New York College College of Drugs, graduating in 1948. From 1950 to 1953 he did postgraduate coaching in dermatology on the N.Y.U. Medical Middle’s pores and skin and most cancers unit. He grew to become head of the unit’s hair clinic in 1953.

However the medical understanding of hair loss was nonetheless in its early levels, and the younger physician had few therapies to supply. To study extra about hair progress and loss, he devised a analysis research, wherein he punched out small circles of pores and skin from the front and back of males’s scalps. He then transplanted the hair that he had faraway from the again of the pinnacle to bald areas within the entrance.

He quickly found that the hair he had transplanted from the “donor zone” saved rising, as if it was nonetheless in its unique place. He termed this phenomenon “donor dominance.”

It was a eureka second. And it led Dr. Orentreich to start creating hair transplantation surgical procedure as a viable, medically confirmed remedy.

However his thought was so revolutionary that a main dermatology journal declined to publish his analysis. It was ultimately revealed within the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, in 1959. Over the many years, different docs would refine hair transplantation surgical procedure.

Dr. Orentreich saved innovating. Within the 1970s, he created a pores and skin exfoliation sponge made out of soppy, artificial mesh. The 3M firm purchased the patent and developed the product because the Buf-Puf.