Male Pattern Baldness
In order to determine the best course of treatment for hair loss, it is important to understand the progression of hair loss.
There are several different patterns for male hair loss. The most common are a receding hairline beginning at the temples, thinning at the crown of the head (also called the vertex), and general thinning of the hair across large areas of the scalp without much direct change to the hairline. Men can experience one of these patterns of hair loss or a combination of all three. Male hair loss is called androgenetic alopecia, often referred to as “male pattern baldness” or “male pattern hair loss.” Male pattern hair loss is responsible for hair loss in about 90% of men. It can begin as early as the teens or twenties and is caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and male sex hormones.
The Norwood-Hamilton Scale outlines the different stages of male pattern hair loss. Vertex stages show hair loss at the crown of the head, while the “A” patterns demonstrate a more dramatic pattern of hair loss. Although this type of hair loss impacts less than 10% of men, it often appears more severe because hair loss is concentrated in the front of the head.
Stage I: shows an adolescent hairline, generally located on the upper brow crease. There is no hair loss at the hairline or crown of the head.
Stage II: demonstrates the progression to an adult hairline, which sits slightly above the upper brow crease. Hair loss at this stage is very mild and usually concentrated at the frontal hairline.
Stage III: is the earliest stage of hair loss considered cosmetically significant enough to be called “baldness” according to this scale. At this stage, most men show a deep symmetrical recession at the temples, which are either bare or only sparsely covered with hair. The vertex figure here shows the additional thinning of the hair at the crown of the head.
Stage IV: includes a deepening recession at the front of the head in the temple areas. Hair loss at the crown is evident and often a bridge of moderately dense hair will separate hair loss at the front of the scalp from that at the vertex or the crown of the head. The sides of the head are typically well-covered with hair.
Stage V: marks the beginning of severe hair loss. While there remains a small separation between the loss of hair at the hairline and the loss of hair at the crown, the band of hair between the two is much thinner and narrower. Hair loss at both the crown and the temporal regions are larger and more distinct.
Stage VI: The bridge of hair that once separated the front of the head from the crown is now almost fully lost, only a few sparse strands may persist. The remaining hair now forms a horseshoe shape around the baldness concentrated in the center of the scalp. Hair loss on the sides of the head will also extend further at this stage.
Stage VII: The most advanced stage of hair loss, only a wreath of thin hair remains on the sides and back of the scalp.
Male Hair Loss FAQs
Here are answers to frequently asked questions to help you get a clearer understanding about hair loss.
1. What are the possible causes of hair loss?
Hair loss can be caused by several factors and this includes the following:
- Diseases (e.g. thyroid diseases)
- Hormonal imbalances
- Prescription drugs (e.g. antidepressants, heart medications, antihypertensives, blood thinners)
- A diet that is low on protein or iron.
- Excessive use of hair styling products.
- Cancer treatments
2. How much hair loss is still considered normal for one day?
It is actually normal to lose at least 50-100 hair strands a day. You may not really be able to count the number of hairs that fall off, but if you already see clumps of hair falling off this is already a cause for alarm.
3. Can constant hat or helmet wearing cause hair loss?
You don’t suffer from hair loss by constantly wearing a hat or helmet. This is one of the common misconception that a lot of people have. So if you are fond of wearing hats, there is no need to ditch it.
4. At what age does hair loss often affect males?
Hair loss is a common condition that affects 50% of males as they reach 50. However, it can start anytime after puberty. It is widely common in males who are in their mid-twenties. It starts with hair thinning, gradual shedding, until patches of bald areas already become visible.
5. What predisposes a man to hair loss?
Genetics and hormonal imbalance are major factors that predispose a man to suffer from excessive hair loss. This is the reason why there is such a term as androgenetic alopecia because the person becomes genetically at risk for an imbalance of androgen hormones. Diet, stress, and underlying medical conditions can also aggravate hair loss.
6. What are the treatments available for male hair loss?
There are different hair loss treatments available today which range from the natural therapies to surgical treatments.
a. Herbal or ayurvedic treatments
This is considered a safe and natural treatment that uses fruits, plants, or oils that have long been regarded to possess restorative and strengthening action for the hair.
b. Hair Transplant
This is considered to be an aggressive approach in restoring hair because of its invasive nature. Surgical hair restoration involves the removal of a strip of scalp which contains donor hair grafts that will be extracted and then implanted right over the bald or thinning areas. This technique is called FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) or the traditional method, also known as the strip method.
A newer and less invasive approach is also available today, and this is called the FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction). It eliminates the need to remove a strip of scalp because a special tool is now used to create small circular incisions around each hair follicle to make the procedure less invasive and less risky.
c. Laser combs
This is also a relatively new treatment which doesn’t necessarily create dramatic results but it will promote hair regrowth. Laser combs stimulates blood circulation as laser energy is directed over the balding site. This can also be used in conjunction with hair transplant to promote healing and better hair growth.
Topical or injectable cortisone medications has been found to enhance regrowth of hair in certain types of hair loss.
7. Who can be considered a good candidate for hair transplant surgery?
You have to understand that every surgeon has their own protocol. They would first assess the patient, and if they don’t hold up to the standards, they would not risk having the patient go through that process. The best candidates for hair transplant surgery are:
- Men with realistic expectations and those who understand that there are limitations and risks involved with this procedure. They should be aware and prepared that they still have to continue taking their hair loss medications even after a hair transplant surgery.
- Hair surgeons will only consider patients who have been losing their hair for more than five years already. Some even specify that a patient must at least reach Norwood class 3 and above.
- Men who have a stable supply of donor hair to cover current or future areas of hair loss.
- Men who have lost their hair due to burns, surgery, or trauma.
- Men who are generally healthy and have no underlying conditions that could put them at risk during or after the surgery.
8. How can I prevent hair loss from bad to worse?
You can prevent it through medications, a healthy diet and lifestyle, and promoting overall good health.
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