Male Pattern Hair Loss
It is important to understand that male pattern hair loss, or Androgenic Alopecia, is a result of androgens (hormones) and genetic-predisposition. It is therefore not caused by wearing a hat, stress, nutrient deficiency, heat styling, excess sebum on your scalp, or any of the other myths you may have heard. Quite simply, this type of hair loss occurs because you are genetically predisposed to it.
Types of Male Pattern Hair Loss
There are different patterns that men’s hair loss may follow. Most commonly, these patterns involve loss in the crown-area, receding at the temples, or diffuse thinning throughout. Any combination of these patterns is common in men with male pattern baldness.
The severity of hair loss can generally be classified according to the Norwood Scale:
Don’t Wait to Treat Your Hair Loss
When it comes to fighting hair loss, you are better off preventing it rather than trying to reverse it. The sooner you begin a treatment regiment, the more likely you are to stop or even reverse your hair loss. The balding process takes years to occur; the longer you wait to fight it, the harder it will become to succeed.
Treatment Options: “The Big 3”
Generally speaking, wherever hair is still growing, it can be thickened. Once an area is completely hairless, your only coverage and treatment options are a hair system or hair restoration surgery. This is why it is so important to get on a treatment regimen as early as possible. Two of the most common scientifically-backed and FDA-approved treatments recommended by hair loss physicians are Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil).
- Propecia is an anti-androgen and DHT inhibitor in pill form. It has proven effective at stabilizing hair loss and will occasionally even regrow hair. Propecia tends to work best for hair loss in the crown. This drug is available with a doctor’s prescription only.
- Rogaine is a growth stimulant that is applied topically and can be used to promote hair growth and slow hair loss. It is most effective on those under the age of 40 whose hair loss is recent. Like Propecia, it is most effective in the crown area and will have little to no effect on the hairline.
There’s one additional member of the so-called “Big 3” hair loss treatment options and that is Nizoral Shampoo. This shampoo has an anti-androgenic effect and is very strong and should therefore only be used once or twice a week.
Other Treatment Options
In addition the Big 3, there are a number of natural treatment options available for men experiencing hair loss:
- Hair Cycle is a line of hair care and styling products, Hair Cycle Treatments are physician-formulated specifically for hair loss and/or hair transplant patients. These products are all-natural and contain a blend of DHT inhibitors, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, cell proliferates, anagen stimulators, nitric oxide precursors and androgen blockers. Hair Cycle shampoo is a gentle, yet highly effective, shampoo perfect for everyday use, or used in conjunction with Nizoral. After lathering, leave this product on your hair for 5 minutes before rinsing to give it time to penetrate.
- Saw Palmetto is an all-natural herb, which can be taken in pill form, and works as an anti-androgen (much like Propecia). The most common dosage size is 320 mg daily.
- Zinc is a mineral which can stimulate hair growth by improving immune function. It can be taken in supplement form and can be found over-the-counter at any drugstore. The recommended dosage is 50-100 mg each day.
Hair Loss In Women
Female pattern baldness involves a typical pattern of hair loss in women, due to hormones, aging, and genes.
The typical female pattern is the so-called Ludwig pattern, which retains the hairline, but sees the middle part become progressively wider over time; women, however, can also experience the typical Norwood pattern, so common in men. Then the progression must be determined. Did the loss begin suddenly, and was a massive shedding noted? Or has there been a slow, steady loss over time? Depending on the pattern and progression, the doctor may decide to order various lab studies or to do microscopic hair exams, together with hair pull or pluck tests.
The only medication approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat female pattern baldness is minoxidil.
Hair Transplantation Surgery – Best Solution to Grow Your Hair
While medications, such as finasteride, rogaine, and nizoral may halt the thinning process; hair transplant surgery remains the most effective treatment for hair loss. Transplanting hair from areas not affected by hair loss (termed the donor area) into the hairless or thinning regions is the best, most permanent solution. This doesn’t mean a patient will not need multiple transplants over time; however, with adequate donor hair, hair restoration to the vertex and hairline is possible.
Not everyone is a candidate for hair restoration. Candidates include men with male pattern baldness with adequate donor hair, women who do not have diffuse hair loss, and those who experience hair loss as a result of burns or other injuries to the scalp. Those interested in undergoing a hair transplant procedure should first meet the doctor for an in person hair consultation. From there, the hair transplant surgeon can help determine a few things: Is the patient a candidate for hair restoration, if so, what are the patient’s goals, and approximately how many grafts are necessary to achieve the desired result.
Once the hair has been transplanted, it will begin to grow the same as it did in the donor area. Patients will begin to see hair growth in the transplanted regions around 3-6 months after the procedure. The full effects of the hair transplant can take up to a year. While the transplanted hairs tend to grow well, patients may continue to experience hair loss in the surrounding areas. For this reason, more than one procedure may be necessary to maintain a desired look.