Similar to acne, hair loss is a problem that the majority of people will experience at some point in their lives.
And while hair loss can be triggered by a plethora of reasons, the biggest cause of hair loss is genetics and hormones.
In fact, the American Hair Loss Council estimates that genetics are responsible for 95% of patients suffering from permanent hair loss.
Specifically, hair loss that is primarily caused by genetics is otherwise known as androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness. While it is a condition that affects both men and women – unfortunately, more men tend to experience this type of hair loss.
To better understand why hair loss occurs, you must know the hair growth cycle:
- Anagen phase: hair grows by a little under an inch per month for about 2–6 years.
- Catagen phase: hair stops growing for about 2–3 weeks.
- Telogen phase: hair starts to fall out and eventually grow new hairs for about 1–4 months before starting the cycle again.
Approximately 90% of the hairs on our scalp are at the anagen phase, but problems arise when a process called hair miniaturization occurs – shortening the duration of follicles that are in the anagen phase while lengthening the time it stays in the telogen phase. This results in hairs that eventually grow thinner, shorter and in lesser volumes than before.
Another important factor that is associated with male pattern baldness are androgens, specifically dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which are a by-product of testosterone that causes hair miniaturization to occur. When we are genetically susceptible to hair loss, our follicles are extremely sensitive to DHT, the more sensitive your hair follicles are to DHT, the quicker you’ll notice your hair thinning and falling out.
Although there are no scientific tests to assess if you have male pattern baldness or accurately predict if you are likely to have it in the future, there are some signs that you should look out for as early intervention improves treatment efficacy and prevents irreversible hair loss.
#1: Hair loss runs in your family.
Although it is largely unclear what exactly causes hair loss in men, what doctors know is that male pattern baldness has a lot to do with genetics and androgens.
Studies that looked at twins concluded that genetics accounted for about 80% of male pattern baldness. In fact, 80% of people who are experiencing noticeable balding will have a father who also suffered from hair loss.
A misconception that many people have is that balding genes only come from the father – this is NOT true.
#2: Hair loss is gradual.
If you are suffering from androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness, it is unlikely that you will grow bald overnight. On the other hand, this type of hair loss is often gradual, and many people will notice thinning (especially at the top of the head) for many years before realizing that they are balding.
#3: You notice a receding hairline or thinning crown.
Most doctors or dermatologists assess male pattern baldness using the Norwood Hamilton Classification Scale, which has seven stages that measure the severity and pattern of hair loss and balding.
A key characteristic of male pattern baldness is that it often follows a specific pattern – in men, hair tends to start thinning at the temples or at the top of the back of the head (called the crown or vertex).
The hairline starts to move backwards to form the characteristic “M” shape that is commonly seen with male pattern baldness where hairs at both sides of your head are receding at a faster rate than the middle of the scalp. Eventually, the hair follows a U-shaped (horseshoe) pattern or in some cases, complete baldness.
#4: Your hair is not growing out as fast as it used to.
Male pattern baldness slows down or prevents the growth of new hairs – which is why you may notice that your hair is taking a lot longer to grow, and even if it does, it is thinner and more prone to breakage.
If you are noticing more hairs on your pillow, comb or in the shower (more than the usual 100), it may be a clear sign to seek help from an aesthetic doctor.
Treating male pattern baldness: your options
If you are concerned about your hair loss, a good way to determine if its male pattern baldness is to take photos of the top of your head every month and watch how it progresses – since this type of hair loss tends to manifest at the back of the head at its beginning stages, it is also worth using a mirror to check for changes regularly.
Since we know that male pattern baldness is largely caused by the DHT hormone, reducing its levels can help prevent further progression of hair loss and potentially reverse it.
The first line of therapy for male and female pattern hair loss is topical minoxidil (Rogaine) – essentially a vasodilator that helps to widen the blood vessels and increase its size so that more blood can reach the scalp and deliver oxygen and nutrients to the follicles. It is a topical treatment that is applied to the scalp twice a day.
For men, another popular treatment is finasteride (Propecia) which works by blocking the enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase that is associated with hair loss. One study showed that a daily oral finasteride dose of one milligram is enough to reduce scalp DHT by 64% and serum DHT by 68%, and a 2008 study showed that men treated with 1mg of finasteride over five years saw a 93% decrease in further hair loss as compared to those who took a placebo.
Both of these medications are FDA-approved for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia; however, can result in side effects including an irritated scalp, headaches, an irregular heart rate and sexual dysfunction. A recent study has also highlighted the increased risk of suicide in younger patients taking finasteride.
In addition, topical and oral medications require an average of 6-12 months to work and patients will have to continue taking them perpetually if they wish to maintain their results. While medications are effective in slowing down the rate of hair loss, they do not necessarily trigger new hair growth.
A permanent solution to restore your hairline: FUE hair transplant
Due to the disadvantages of topical and oral medications, many patients are opting for a hair transplant.
While hair transplants used to get a bad rap for its ugly “hair plugs”, today’s techniques produce visibly long-lasting, permanent and natural-looking results.
Using the concept of “donor dominance”, hair transplants work by taking hair that is androgen resistant (typically the back and sides of the scalp) and implanting it into androgen-sensitive or balding areas.
The two main hair transplant techniques are the FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) and FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) hair transplant which utilizes micrografting technology to donate your healthy hair follicles to areas that are experiencing thinning or balding.
While both hair transplants have the same goal – our clinic prefers using the more advanced FUE technique as it provides less discomfort, lower downtime and does not result in obvious linear scars that are often seen in FUT hair transplants.
The procedure is both time and labour-intensive, and involves these key steps:
Step 1: Local anaesthesia is injected in both the donor and recipient areas to maximize comfort levels. Depending on your preferences, your hair may or may not be shaved.
Step 2: Your doctor will then extract hair follicles from the back or sides of the hair using a tiny punch that leaves undetectable pinholes in the donor area. A team of trained technicians will then scrutinize and inspect every graft before sorting and preparing them for implantation.
Step 3: Tiny holes are then created in the balding areas where the hair grafts are then individually implanted at natural-looking angles.
A typical FUE procedure will require anywhere from 800 – 2000 hair grafts which will take anywhere from 4–8 hours to complete.
Potential side effects include swelling, pain, bleeding, inflammation and infections, although most of these are rare when done with an experienced and knowledgeable doctor.
Hair transplant cost can range from $4 to $7 per graft, and the total cost of the hair transplants depends on the number of grafts you need, as well as the type of hair you have and the experience of the doctor and team.
You don’t have to live with hair loss. Start your treatment today!
Hair loss can be an embarrassing condition that causes us to feel less attractive, especially if they were once a source or
Early recognition of the signs of male pattern baldness can help you get the treatment you need to slow down hair loss. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that they are suffering from the condition until they have lost more than half of their hair.
But you don’t have to let hair loss become your identity – it is possible to manage and control it to a large extent, starting with a competent doctor who can accurately diagnose and assess your condition and advise on your best treatment options.
Our aesthetic clinic offers a range of hair loss treatments including hair tonics, topical and oral medications, Fraxel Laser and Regenera Activa.
Studies have shown that a combination treatment approach to hair loss is more effective – for example, combining minoxidil and finasteride provides better results, while Regenera Activa can help accelerate healing and lower the incidence of side effects after a hair transplant!
Both our doctors have decades of experience in performing both the FUE and ARTAS hair transplant procedure, and is backed by a current chief hair transplant technician that has over 10 years of experience and 2000 satisfied patients!
If you are on acne medications such as isotretinoin (Accutane), it is possible to notice hair loss as well – should this be a major concern for you, our doctors can recommend a better acne treatment and acne scar removal program that works for you.
Remember: hair lost will never come back.
Make sure that you work with a doctor and team of technicians who knows what they are doing and can provide a high graft survival rate – this is undoubtedly the most important factor that determines the success of your hair transplant.
Hair loss can start at almost any age, and it is possible to experience symptoms as early as your 20s. If you notice any of these 4 signs, don’t hesitate to book your consultation today!
- Who is the ideal candidate for a hair transplant?
Ideally, patients should have a healthy donor site with a good supply of hair follicles available. Those who are suffering from male pattern baldness and hair loss that has stabilized are also suitable.
Do note that patients who are completely bald will not see results with a hair transplant. If you are unsure, sit down with our doctors for a no-obligation consultation to determine your suitability.
- How soon can I see results?
You should be able to see the outline of your new hairline immediately after the procedure.
Most patients will experience some redness and notice a shedding period that occurs for about 3-6 weeks which is completely normal as your transplanted hairs need time to adjust to their new home.
You will also notice tiny scabs that will fall off on its own within the first 3–7 days. Your transplanted hairs should grow out within 6–12 months with no issues, provided you take good care of your scalp during the first 2 weeks after your surgery.
- Is it painful?
Local anaesthesia is used as part of the procedure and there should be minimal pain felt throughout the treatment. You might experience mild soreness and itching after the anaesthesia has worn off, which our doctors can prescribe painkillers to help alleviate the discomfort.
- What are the benefits of choosing us?
Our doctors treasure each hair graft and strive to maximize graft survival rates with the mastery of using thin micro-tips, advanced bio-technology solutions, special implanting techniques and an experienced and well-organized FUE hair transplant surgical team.
We can also provide “dense packing” – a thickening technique that can achieve a high density to create a natural-looking hairline, as well as mega-sessions (more than 3000 grafts) to produce the best coverage possible in a safe and feasible manner.
Our patients also have the option of the No Downtime Hair Transplant which allows them to go back to work the next day, as well as the Unshaven FUE hair transplant for those who do not wish to shave their head just for the surgery.