Finding an Effective Hair Restoration Solution
With age comes the inevitable hair loss, particularly for men. But for many of us, that hair loss starts a whole lot sooner than we’d like. While hair loss is common and increasingly an issue for younger and younger people, you don’t have to accept hair loss or balding as your fate!
There are hair loss treatments you can explore today to prevent further hair loss and keep the hair you have. A great option for restoring thinning hair on the top/front of the head is with surgical hair restoration. But before you make any decisions, it’s important to learn what causes hair loss in the first place and know that all hair loss is not created equal. Keep reading to find out more!
What Causes Hair Loss?
Hair loss is very common among both men and women, but the reasons it occurs in each individual varies, ranging from hormonal to autoimmune causes to chemotherapy-induced.
The image of an aging man is typically what most of us think of when we think of hair loss. Almost all men get a receding hairline at a certain age, with about half of all men over the age of 50 and about half of all women over the age of 65 having male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia.
Male pattern baldness, or hair thinning on the top/front of the head, affects almost all men and it’s caused by DHT, a by-product of testosterone. Aging women also are affected by this problem of thinning hair, although it’s unclear whether not it is caused by sex hormones.
It is clear, however, that in both aging men and women, the hair follicles get smaller. Hair growth stages are shorter, and the resting stage is longer, resulting in thin, short hairs, leaving many of the hair follicles empty.
The interesting part about this pattern of hair loss is that it occurs only in the front and top of the head. That’s because this is the only place on the head where the hair follicles are sensitive to hormones. Thus, the sides and back of the head typically stay healthy.
This is the scientific term for increased hair shedding and a lot of it, at that. This type of hair loss occurs for a variety of reasons and hair follicles enter the hair shedding stage at one time. Thankfully, hair loss in this way typically grows back in a matter of months on its own.
Cancer cells grow at scary rates. Chemotherapy kills off the type of cells that grow quickly. Most normal cells do not grow this way, but hair matrix cells do. For this reason, chemotherapy puts hair follicles into the catagen stage; in other words, it causes the hair to break and fall out. Once chemotherapy ends, the hair follicles regenerate and healthy hair grows back. During chemotherapy though, patients typically lose all of their hair.
This cause of hair loss is due to an autoimmune condition called alopecia areata. With this condition, the person’s immune system attacks cells responsible for growing hair. Hairs break and fall out in patches throughout the scalp. This type of hair loss is typically managed with topical medication.
Hair Loss Treatments
Today, the most effective drug to treat hair loss is minoxidil. Originally developed by Rogaine, the formula is intended for men and women suffering from androgenic alopecia.
Though it is debated as to how much hair growth can be achieved with Minoxidil, it has been proven to be at least moderately effective in two-thirds of men. It isn’t intended for restoring hair loss in men, but rather it’s meant to help men and women keep the hair they do have.
Minoxidil has been shown to slow hair loss and promote new hair growth when used twice a day. The treatment needs to be used regularly for the effects to be seen.
Another drug approved to fight hair loss is Propecia. It works by stopping testosterone from producing DHT, the by-product of testosterone. DHT shortens the phase of hair growth responsible for growing new hair in hormone-sensitive follicles, those in the front and sides of the head.
Unfortunately, Propecia can cause loss of libido, but this tends to go away with time. Testosterone replacement is also becoming increasingly popular. But with this comes accelerated hair loss. Men who take testosterone replacement should combine it with Propecia as well as Minoxidil to combat hair loss.
While minoxidil and Propecia can be viable options for hair loss or at least minimizing hair loss, these treatments must be used every day or hair loss gains are soon lost. A great way to combat hair loss is with surgical hair transplants. Dr. Anthony Bared, a hair transplant expert from Miami, recommends modern hair grafting for men and women looking for an effective hair restoration solution. With surgery, hair is grafted from the sides and back of the head and transplanted to the top of the head.
When hair transplanting began in the late 1980s, large grafts were taken of 12 to 20 hairs. While the initial result was acceptable, as men got older, an unnatural looking corn-row like phenomenon would occur. Thankfully, the hair grafting techniques used today achieve significantly better results.
Using a technique called follicular unit hair transplant, one to four hairs are grafted and transplanted close together to create a naturally fuller appearance. Of course, individuals interested in a surgical option for hair restoration should always work with a licensed and board-certified surgeon with experience and proven results with hair restoration.