Male Pattern Baldness:
Aging or Androgenetic?
How to Prevent Hair Loss and
What to Do After It Happens
In North America, millions of men suffer from the effects of baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, on a daily basis. The condition can be emotionally and physically hard to come to terms with, as a full head of hair is often a large part of what defines a man’s identity. When male pattern baldness occurs, the emotional side effects can be just as devastating as the physical ones, often causing those affected to develop self-esteem issues or, in serious cases, depression.
Male Pattern Balding Can Be Very Emotionally Damaging Yet It’s Easily Treated
So Why Do Only 7% Seek Professional Treatment?
The American Hair Loss Association for Men states it estimates the following:
“Androgenetic alopecia or common male pattern baldness (MPB) accounts for more than 95% of hair loss in men. By the age of 35 two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss, and by the age of fifty approximately 85% of men have significantly thinning hair. Approximately 25% of men who suffer with male pattern baldness begin the painful process before they reach the age of 21.”
If you’re dealing with hair loss, we want you to know that there are many reasons why you could be losing hair. Hair loss is a condition that is not nearly as clear-cut as most people think, and by learning more about it, those affected can find the many forms of effective treatment and solutions.
Of those affected by male pattern baldness or other forms of hair loss, it is estimated that roughly only 7% seek professional treatment for their situation. For a condition that is so prevalent, it is surprising to know that so few reach out for proper diagnosis and treatment when there are so many viable solutions out there.
Why Don’t More Men Seek Professional Help for their Hair Loss?
Though most men don’t like to admit it, hair loss is a major concern for them. Unfortunately, societal stereotypes about “going bald” have left many sufferers feeling embarrassed or ashamed about their predicament, often forcing them to stay in the dark about a state that has many solutions.
An “I’m unlucky” mentality may develop and cause many to give up hope when, in reality, there are many viable, helpful treatments out there. For these reasons, it is extremely important for men to make themselves aware of the facts behind male pattern baldness or other forms of hair loss, as they may be able to save themselves years of physical and emotional pain.
If you’re currently dealing with hair loss, don’t give up – there’s hope!
What Exactly Is Male Pattern Baldness?
The basic medical term for male pattern baldness is androgenetic alopecia. In general, it starts with a receding hairline, followed by the thinning of hair around and on your crown and temples. A common cause for this is a genetically inherited sensitivity to the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). That is, those who have male pattern baldness in their genes have inherited sensitive follicles that begin to shrink with the effects of the natural Dihydrotestosterone hormone, and eventually these follicles begin to produce hairs that are thinner, with a shorter life span.
This continues to the point where the follicles can no longer produce the normally thick and healthy hair that they used to.
Unfortunately, many men’s resistance to Dihydrotestosterone is genetic, so proper testing and knowledge of your family’s medical history will aid you in your search for answers about your balding.
Is There Anything That You Can Do about DHT?
Yes, there is. But it is important to understand the hormone in detail first. Specifically, the American Hair Loss Association for Men describes DHT as:
“… a derivative or by-product of testosterone. Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme Type II 5-alpha-reductace, which is held in the hair follicle’s oil glands. While the entire genetic process of male pattern baldness is not completely understood, scientists do know that DHT shrinks hair follicles, and that when DHT is suppressed, hair follicles continue to thrive.
Hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT must be exposed to the hormone for a prolonged period of time in order for the affected follicle to complete the miniaturization[shrinking] process.”
Luckily, for those feeling hopeless about their affliction, the association also states that:
“Today, with proper intervention this process can be slowed or even stopped if caught early enough.”
While androgenetic alopecia is the main cause for most hair loss among men, and it does have a genetic link to family history, it is extremely important for those who think they may have it to note that there are several other types of hair loss and causes for hair loss that might be affecting them as well.
What Are Some Other Causes for Male Hair Loss?
Hair loss can sometimes be related to other emotional or physical problems in your life. In some cases, it can be linked to:
- Mineral or vitamin deficiencies
In addition, you could also be suffering from other forms of alopecia. Such as:
Alopecia areata is balding that typically occurs in patches. It can happen at any age, but mostly is seen in teenagers and young adults. The National Health Service (NHS) UK reports that “six out of 10 people affected develop their first bald patch before they are 20 years old.”
It is widely accepted that alopecia areata is related to an autoimmune disorder where your body begins attacking its own anagen hair follicles (follicles in their first phase of the hair cycle, during which synthesis of hair takes place), causing the suppression or cessation of hair growth. There is also evidence to suggest that the condition is also hereditary as well.
Luckily for most, the condition is temporary and hair will grow back, however proper testing and professional help are important for the diagnosis, which generally consists of a trichoscopy (high magnification of the affected area).
Scarring alopecia, or cicatricial alopecia, is a rare group of disorders that can destroy hair follicles. It affects approximately 3% of hair loss sufferers and often begins as small patches of hair loss that expand with time. The hair loss can be gradual, without visible symptoms, or it may be sudden and accompanied by visible itching, burning and pain.
Scaring alopecia is usually classified into two different types, one where the hair follicles are destroyed because they are the target of the disorder. Some examples of this are:
- Lichen planopilaris (LPP)
- Frontal fibrosing alopecia
- Central centrifugal alopecia
In the other type, hair follicles are destroyed unintentionally by external sources, such as:
- Skin infections
Scarring Alopecia is very difficult to diagnose and requires a medical professional to properly assess it. Often a biopsy will have to be performed in addition to other testing such as a clinical evaluation of your scalp, culture samples and more. It is important to seek early intervention with this form of hair loss because it does permanently damage your hair follicles. If caught before it affects too many of them, however, there is there is a good chance that spreading can be stopped or prevented.
Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by a prolonged physical pulling force on your scalp. Those who wear:
- Tight ponytails, braids, buns or other force-inducing hairdos
- Weaves or hair extensions
- Tight head gear e.g.: hats or helmets
… are susceptible to this type of alopecia, but can find relief in the knowledge that cessation of the damaging pulling force will often stop the hair loss. Most often your hair will grow back if the force is stopped in time.
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Frontal fibrosing alopecia, or FFA, is a rare condition that is triggered by your body’s immune system. Most often sufferers will experience inflammation that causes hair loss near their forehead and even on their eyebrows or underarms. In some cases your hair follicles may be destroyed by the inflammation even when your skin looks normal. Other times, sufferers will experience mild scarring, redness around hair follicles, inflammation or paleness in the affected area.
It is important for those who suspect that they may be suffering from this type of hair loss to seek medical help, as intervention may be able to stop the spreading of the inflammation.
Other Forms of Male Hair Loss
Another form of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. This type of hair loss has to do with the hair growth stages. Specifically, hair in the telogen (resting) stage will either become inactive or dormant for a longer than normal period of time.
Those suffering will lose or shed a significant number of these telogen stage hairs, which can be recognized by the small bulbs of keratin at the root ends.
There are many reasons why you may suffer from telogen effluvium, making it important for both you and your medical professional to assess your habits, medications, diet and lifestyle.
Some common causes include:
- Physical trauma
- Chronic illnesses
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Because of the many causes for telogen effluvium, you should seek a detailed medical analysis. If the cause can be determined, often your hair can and will grow back with proper treatment as the follicles are not dead, they simply need to “wake-up.”
Signs That You’re Suffering From a Hair-Loss Condition
For most people, the first indication that they may be suffering from a hair loss condition is the unusual amount of hair loss itself. However, this might not appear as bald patches right away. For instance, you may see:
- Your hairline gradually recede
- Thinning of hair
- Bald spots
- Redness and inflammation
- Excessive loss of hair
There are many ways to find out which type of hair loss you are experiencing, and they all start with a visit to your medical professional. A detailed assessment of your medical history, body and lifestyle will guide them to the appropriate treatment direction, which may include:
- Genetic Testing (also available for the prediction of hair loss)
- Autoimmune testing
- Allergy testing
- Skin biopsy
- Blood tests
- Hair analysis
Once the cause is determined, then effective and safe treatments can be recommended.
Results After Six Months
What Treatments Are Available for Those Suffering from Hair Loss?
There are many new and emerging treatments that have been proven to be safer and more effective than conventional medications, such as Minoxidil and Finasteride, that are often used to treat hair loss. Among these treatments are:
Laser Light Therapy and Low-Level Light Therapy
Light therapies essentially consist of your scalp being treated with photo, laser or low light for a specified amount of time. Many studies have shown this type of therapy to be extremely effective for hair loss sufferers, as was documented in a recent study published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Specifically, the results from a low-level light treatment found that:
Laster Light Therapy
“Controlled clinical trials demonstrated that LLLT [low-level laser therapy] stimulated hair growth in both men and women. Among various mechanisms, the main mechanism is hypothesized to be stimulation of epidermal stem cells in the hair follicle bulge and shifting the follicles into anagen phase.”
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
This new hair transplant technique is cited as one of the most effective and natural-looking ways to help those whose hair follicles are destroyed. With follicular unit extraction, natural groupings from another area of your scalp (usually the back of your head) are transplanted to the appropriate area. This transplant results in a natural look that consists completely of your own natural hair. There is no visible scarring or “patching” in the donor area (a common problem with traditional “hair plug” surgery), and your hair line maintains an organic appearance.
The most important aspect of getting the best results from follicular unit extraction is finding a professional with proven experience in the field.
ARTAS® Robotic System
Drastic technological advancements in the follicular unit extraction field, especially in the form of robotics, have allowed for a new type of follicular unit extraction aided by the power of a robotic system. Specifically, the ARTAS® Robotic System has been proven to give patients seeking follicular unit extraction unprecedented surgical accuracy.
Aided by the guidance of a professional practitioner, the results have been lauded for a host of benefits, including a quick recovery time and permanent results with no visible scarring.
PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) Therapy
There has been much talk about Platelet Rich Therapy in the field of hair loss. The procedure is done with a small sample of your blood, which is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelet-rich plasma. This enriched blood is then later injected at the site of the transplant surgery for the purpose of speeding up the healing process as well as aiding new hair growth.
In a groundbreaking study named “PRP for Androgenic Alopecia” by Drs. Gilbert Amgar and Pierre Bouhanna, MD, it was found that some patients who received platelet rich plasma after their hair transplant saw “an increase of 22.4% in both new hair and denser hair at 3 months after PRP treatment.” In addition, at the 9-month period they saw “…a 57% increase in new hair and 58% increase in density.”
In our modern age, there is an unlimited array of solutions for men suffering from male pattern baldness or other forms of hair loss. Please don’t let hair loss ruin your self-esteem, your relationships or your enjoyment of life! This is a very treatable condition, so It is important for you to reach out, discover the facts behind this common affliction, and know that you don’t need to give up hope.
If you are undiagnosed, scheduling an appointment can change your life in many cases — and it’s so easy to do.
American Hair Loss Association; Men’s Hair Loss; Reviewed by Paul J. McAndrews, MD.
NHS; Hair Loss, Introduction.
Storrs, Carina; Is Platelet-Rich Plasma an Effective Healing Therapy?; Scientific American.
“The ARTAS Robotic Procedure”; http://www.artashair.com.