IN THIS ISSUE
Little or lot: How can you restore your hair to fullness?
Hair loss is prevalent among men and women. More than 50 million men in the United States have scalp hair loss due to male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia. More than 30 million women suffer from female-pattern baldness. In both cases, this inherited condition is treatable via medicine, laser therapy, or surgery.
Causes of Hair Loss
Most cases of hair loss, 95 percent, are caused by androgenetic alopecia—an inherited sensitivity to the effects of androgens (hormones) on scalp hair follicles. The onset of this condition is due to factors such as genetic predisposition, the presence of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and age. Hair loss may also be caused or affected by pregnancy, disease, burns, accidents, and certain medications.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two drugs for the treatment of hair loss, finasteride and minoxidil. Finasteride (Propecia®) is taken orally once a day, for men only. Minoxidil (Rogaine®) is applied topically twice a day, available for men and women. These medications slow down the progression of hair loss and promote re-growth. The disadvantage is that in order for the medications to work they must be taken long term.
In European studies, Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) increased blood flow to the scalp and stimulated follicular cells, which may cause hair to grow in thicker and stronger. More studies are underway in evaluating its effectiveness. The light wavelength emitted is non-thermal, or without heat; this means it is noninvasive and the patient remains comfortable during the treatment. Although LLLT has not been approved by the FDA as a hair loss treatment, it has been approved for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and as a wound-healing aide. Discuss this with your physician to see if your condition would benefit from this low-level laser treatment.
Before and after photos courtesy of The Face Book, published by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Hair replacement surgery may be the right option for you. Your surgeon will evaluate your pattern of balding and ensure that there is viable donor and recipient sites. The donor area is usually on the side or back of the scalp. Follicular unit transplantation—a refinement of grafting from years ago—involves taking a strip of hair-bearing scalp, preserving blood vessels and tissue, and under microscopic magnification, inserting the units (between one to four hairs group into a single follicle unit) into small needle-sized sites in the recipient area. This intricate technique allows the surgeon to create a natural looking hairline and density pattern. Transplantation may take several sessions over several months to achieve desired results.
For best results, visit a physician who can evaluate your condition, make treatment recommendations, and monitor your progress. You may be a great candidate for one or a combination of treatment options.