SECOND QUARTER 2002, VOLUME 16, NO 2

Hair loss: What are my options?

IN THIS ISSUE

Is that really me in the mirror? The realities of the aging face

Improving the appearance of your neck with a facelift, liposuction, etc.

Ask the Surgeon / Health Tip / What’s New

Hair loss: What are my options?

We have approximately 100,000 hairs on our head, naturally losing between 40 to 100 each day due to the growth cycle of the hair follicle. The follicle grows for 18 months, becomes dormant for 6 months, falls out, and then a new hair sprouts and begins to grow. For two out of every three men, and one and five women the new growth is inhibited. Scientists believe that a hormone produced from testosterone, DHT, is responsible for preventing new hair growth by accumulating in the follicle. This means that the new hair is thin and weak; over time, localized patches of thinning or recession occur. What are the causes of hair loss? Heredity is the major factor for men; hormone changes are mainly responsible for female thinning and loss. If you are unhappy with your receding hairline or thinning hair, see if hair replacement surgery is for you.

The facts of hair loss
You will not become bald by brushing your hair, wearing a hat, shampooing frequently, or having poor circulation. These are common misconceptions that have no validity. Hair loss may be affected by disease, burns, accidents, and certain medications. Depending on the cause of hair loss, your facial plastic surgeon will evaluate and proceed with the optimal plan for you.

The future of balding
On the horizon, researchers at the University of Melbourne have come closer to discovering a baldness gene. A study is underway to pinpoint the gene responsible with the hopes that they will be able to alter it to reverse hair loss. This could be an effective treatment available within the next ten years.

Balding ManThe transplanting of hair
Until gene therapy is proven and available, however, hair replacement surgery remains the most effective way to achieve hair restoration. Your physician will determine the pattern of balding (frontal baldness only; front to crown; front and midscalp with no thinning at the crown; and crown only balding) in order to effectively plan the donor and recipient site.

The most common procedures include grafting, follicular unit transplantation, and skin flap surgery. Grafting involves taking a strip of hair-bearing scalp, dividing it into several hundred smaller grafts and then inserting them into the scalp. Follicular unit transplantation–a refinement of micrografting–preserves the entire hair bearing structure (blood vessels and tissue) and under microscopic magnification, the units are inserted into small needle-sized sites in the recipient area. Grafting and follicular unit transplantation may take several sessions over several months to achieve desired results. Scalp flap surgery may be used to treat a large area of baldness. A flap of hair-bearing scalp is lifted, rotated, and placed in a new position. The results are immediate and dramatic.

Over the last 40 years, hair restoration surgery has come a long way to provide patients with extensive hair grafts in very natural arrangements with extremely high success rates. Take the next step. If you would like to improve the appearance of your scalp, see your facial plastic surgeon for more information about what specific procedure might be right for you.