Hair Loss Solutions…What Are Your Options?
RThere are a number of non-medical hair loss products designed to hide thinning or balding hair. A few of the more common alternatives to hair restoration surgery are described below.
Topical Camouflage Products
Hair loss products such as sprays and powders provide another form of camouflage for the scalp. Both are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Usually applied once daily, these hair loss products are meant to blend in with the existing hair and cover the scalp. The most benefit can be gained from sprays and powders by those with a small balding area on the crown of the head, rather than frontal or temporal hair loss. Unfortunately, while providing an improved look from far away (i.e. improved look in photographs), these hair loss products could become more noticeable as one gets closer to the individual. Also, some products stain and are removed once you shampoo. Similar to toupees and other hair replacement systems, these items only provide a temporary coverage rather than a permanent solution.
The drug Propecia (FDA approval in 1997) has been shown to slow down or stop hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. It does so by inhibiting an enzyme called 5-Alpha Reductase, which is responsible for the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. The working theory is that most, if not all, hair loss due to male pattern baldness is a result of DHT binding to its receptors on susceptible follicles and inhibiting their growth. Since DHT receptors are mostly found on follicles on the top of the head, this is the area where the DHT causes the hair to fall out. Propecia lowers the total body DHT levels; thereby reducing the inhibition caused by DHT (double negative equals a positive). The end result reduces or prevents hair loss for most males. Propecia is a hair loss treatment that is only available by prescription, but it is safe and well tolerated by men. It is taken once daily, and side effects are rare. The most frequent side effect is a possible decrease in libido. Studies have shown this to occur in less than 2% of patients taking the medicine, and these effects disappear when Propecia is stopped. Although this medication has been marketed as a hair restoration product, it is the opinion of PMHR that the practical usage for this medication is to prevent further hair loss. Regrowth of lost hair is rare although enlargement of miniaturized hair is possible, but the reduction of hair loss is usually substantial.
Rogaine (FDA approval in 1988) is the only other medication which has gained FDA approval for the treatment of hair loss. It is available as a clear liquid solution, and more recently as mousse-like foam, which is applied directly to the scalp twice daily. This hair loss solution has been proven to be safe and well tolerated. Minoxidil was used to treat hypertension prior to its use as a hair loss treatment. Its ability to stop hair loss and grow small hairs was subsequently seen as a side effect. After this discovery, it began being marketed as a hair restoration product in its topical form. While Minoxidil can stimulate increased blood flow to the scalp, this is unlikely to be the mechanism by which it grows hairs. The more likely scenario is that it activates some cellular receptor which still remains a mystery. Unfortunately, the hairs which may grow as a result of applying Minoxidil are usually very small and have a tendency to shed soon after the medication is stopped. On a more positive note, Minoxidil can be used to treat female hair loss in addition to male pattern baldness.
Low Laser Light Therapy
Low Laser Light Therapy has been around for years and has had questionable efficacy. In the past we have too questioned its efficacy until now. The improved design and placement of laser diodes in certain products has changed many doctors’ views of this therapy. It has now made this therapy an affected tool in hair restoration clinics around the world to help stop hair loss. Low level laser therapy has been shown to boost cell metabolism in turn shortening the resting (telogen) phase of the hair cycle and stimulating the follicle before it completely dies out. We are proud to offer the LaserCap: Low Laser Light Therapy for Hair Loss. The LaserCap has improved the use of Low Laser Light Therapy and made it easy for hair loss sufferers to use..
Surgical Hair Restoration
It has been known for centuries that many men lose the hair on the top of their heads and usually retain the hair on the sides and in the back. It has been a relatively recent discovery that DHT receptors are the root of the problem in male pattern baldness. We now know that balding men usually have an abundance of DHT receptors on the follicles atop their heads, but few, if any, DHT receptors on the follicles on the sides and back of the head. These follicles can be taken from their original areas and the hair transplants can be relocated to the balding areas of the head to replenish the lost hairs in these regions. This technique of hair restoration surgery is called hair transplantation, and in the United States is elected by roughly 250,000 men per year. The transplanted follicles normally continue to grow hair forever because they retain the characteristics from their original location (i.e. they are unaffected by DHT even when they are moved to the new areas). The concept of moving hair from one location to another is not new. Hair transplants, in various forms, have been around since the 1950′s. Original hair transplants involved harvesting 20-30 large 4mm “plugs” from areas in the back and sides of the head and implanting them on the top. Unfortunately, these “plugs” were just that. They gave the appearance of “cornrows” or “doll’s hair” as they created very dense areas of 35-40 hairs surrounded by the balding areas. Over the next several decades, these “plugs” got smaller in size, but nevertheless, were still “plugs” and still were cosmetically noticeable. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, micro grafting and mini grafting began to replace the larger grafting techniques. In these hair loss restoration procedures, grafts of 1-5 hair follicles (2-12 hairs) are transplanted. These hair restoration surgery methods create a vastly improved cosmetic appearance over the prior methods. Unfortunately, these grafts are still noticeable to the naked eye upon close inspection, as they are denser than the surrounding areas. The only way to truly recreate the hairline in an undetectable fashion is to transplant individual follicles, as they naturally grow. Thus was the birth of follicular unit hair transplants, or follicular unit grafting. In the late 1990s, the follicular unit hair transplant procedure emerged to become the most cosmetically appealing method of hair restoration surgery. Using this method, the donor hair from the back and sides of the head is dissected into its simplest form- single follicles. This allows individual follicles (each consisting of 1-5 hairs) to be transplanted to the balding areas with a much more natural appearance than the older methods of surgery. The merits of follicular unit grafting are obvious by examination of the improved cosmetic results. Unfortunately, there are still many physicians who continue to rely upon micro grafting and mini grafting hair loss restoration techniques.
Transplanting to Non-Scalp Regions
The refinements in today’s hair-transplantation techniques have not only significantly improved the results of surgical hair restoration; they have also extended the ability to transplant hair to non-scalp areas. We use follicular-unit grafting which can restore natural-appearing hair growth to such areas as the eyebrows, chest, beard, mustache, and sideburn areas. The absence of hair is, for most patients, inherited. Other causes include alopecic scarring from trauma, or bad acne and patchy or complete alopecia from laser hair removal. Even in the presence of scarring, hair growth is extremely reliable, reaching the 90%-plus rate seen with the scalp. Every individual has his or her own concept of sexual identity and attractiveness, and, for some, the lack of hair in certain body areas can cause insecurity and unhappiness. For most patients, the most important area of the face is the goatee. This area helps to define the mouth and serves as the framework for a masculine appearance. Even for patients who do not anticipate growing a beard, the ability to sport a thick 5-o’clock shadow in the goatee or the entire beard is very desirable. In order to complete some procedures like brow-lifts or face-lifts the hairline has to be enacted to hide the incisions. For most women they desire the heart shaped face. Female hairlines tend to be straighter across and a little lower than a male. The transplanted hairs are not affected by DHT (the hormone that causes hair loss) and are permanent. The number of grafts transplanted depends upon the patient’s goals, the indication for the procedure, and the existing amounts of hair. Typically, these procedures range from 50 grafts (for areas of scarring) to as many as 2,200 grafts or more. To learn more about products that may help to slow or stop your hair loss, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We will discuss your situation and determine the best hair loss solution for you!
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