When I started to see that my hair is falling out, I naturally sought out hair loss treatments that other people have found useful. Here is what I found out.
Androgenetic alopecia (male and female pattern balding) is by far the most common cause of hair loss amongst men and a serious problem for many women. There are three important components which are responsible for both female and male balding:
1. A genetic predisposition for balding to occur.
2. Excessive presence of male hormones.
3. Aging – enough time for the first two factors to occur.
Both men and women produce male hormones that have a useful role to play in both sexes; but the fact that androgens occur in much higher concentrations in men explains why male pattern baldness is more common than the female balding.
What is making my hair fall out? It is metabolism of male hormones (androgen/testosterone) which is main cause of hair loss and male and female pattern balding both in men and women.
The metabolism of androgen involves an enzyme called 5 alpha reductase which combines with the hormone (testosterone) and converts it to DHT (Dihydro-testosterone). DHT is a natural metabolite of our body.
Why is my hair falling out? Some individuals, both men and women, are genetically pre-disposed to produce more DHT than the normal individuals. It is this accumulation of DHT and its effect on the cells inside the hair follicle and root which is one of the primary causes of male and female pattern balding.
When DHT gets into the hair follicle and root, especially a region called the dermal papilla, it changes the cell’ activity and prevents necessary proteins, vitamins and minerals from providing nourishment needed to sustain life in the hairs of those follicles. Consequently, hair follicles are reproduced at a much slower rate. This shortens their growing stage (anagen phase) and or lengthens their resting stage (telogen phase) of the follicle. DHT also causes hair follicle to shrink and get progressively smaller and finer. This process is known as miniaturization and causes the hair to ultimately fall. DHT induced androgenetic aloepcia is responsible for 95% of all hair loss.
Blocking the synthesis of DHT at the molecular level forms the basis for the treatment of MPHL (male pattern hair loss) and FPHL (female pattern hair loss). There are many natural DHT blockers and a number of drugs which are used for medical hair restoration.
There has been a great deal of progress in the field of hair replacement and restoration in the past few years. Surgical techniques have improved greatly from the days when hair replacement first began. All hair replacement techniques involve the use of your own hair; therefore, hair replacement candidates must have some healthy hair, usually at the back and sides of the head. The process is a relatively safe procedure when performed by a qualified surgeon, however as with any surgery there are risks. Candidates must be checked for uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood-clotting problems, or skin that scars excessively, as these conditions may make healing difficult. Small pieces of hair growing scalp grafts are removed from areas of the scalp with healthy hair and are placed where hair is thinning. There are three major types of grafts: punch grafts, mini-grafts, and micro-grafts. Punch grafting takes about 10-15 hairs and places them in the scalp. This was the first type of technique to be developed, and when first developed caused a patchy look in many candidates. The technique has been improved since the first days of being developed, and the new mini-graft technique has also been added as an option. Mini-grafts contain only 2-4 hairs per graft, and therefore look much more natural. Micro-grafts are still smaller grafts that contain one to two hairs each. To maintain healthy circulation of the scalp, grafts are placed 1/8th of an inch apart. Local anesthesia is usually sufficient for these procedures, and several procedures are usually required to achieve the desired result. Post-surgery, a period of approximately 10 days of no sexual or strenuous activity is recommended, as strenuous activity may cause bleeding from the graft areas.
Of course surgery is a serious option, and often an expensive one as well. For those not wishing to undergo surgery for either reason, the option of non-surgical hair additions is often explored. Many professionals have developed techniques to add hair to existing hair on your scalp that look very natural. Weaves, fusions, bonding, cabling and micro linking are some of the techniques used to bond hair to the existing hair or scalp non-surgically.
Many jokes were made in the past about wigs and toupees, and they have gained an unfavorable light amongst many people because they were so obvious on the wearer. Today’s toupees and wigs are often made of real hair and are very well styled, causing them to look ore natural on the wearer. These hairpieces are held in place by affixing adhesive to the scalp and stay in place through vigorous exercise. Of course you will need to seek a professionally made toupee in order to make it worth your while, and you should purchase at least two so that you can maintain them properly, servicing one while wearing the other. A professionally styled and fitted toupee is expected to cost upward of $600 to $1000 in today’s market. Of course no one wants to go through the embarrassment of wearing the obvious “rug” on top of your head, so if you are not willing to spend the money it takes to purchase a professional toupee then it is probably best to not wear any hairpiece at all.
Structured hairpieces as they are called are a semi-surgical approach that permanently attaches hair to the scalp by stitching the hair to the bald scalp. This procedure is not recommended, as it is a process that involves introducing a foreign material to the scalp. Most ethical surgeons do not perform this procedure any longer as they are generally deemed to be ethically inappropriate. If this procedure is recommended to you, get a second opinion from a trusted physician.
A much safer procedure is hair weaving, yet this can only be used if hair is thinning and large balding areas are not present. The process is also called hair intensification or hair integration. Strands of synthetic or real hair are braided or weaved into your own existing hair giving an appearance of a full head of hair. This procedure does have its drawbacks, because it can make the scalp difficult to access, interfering with proper hair and scalp maintenance necessary for the health of your remaining natural hair, and this method can also stress existing hair since the artificial hair introduced through weaving is attached to it. This method is usually expensive, costing several thousand dollars per application, and being that because of the aforementioned drawbacks it can only be left in for a few weeks at a time it is usually impractical for the average person.
It is highly recommended that one seek professional assistance with these procedures from licensed beauticians or barbers, and have a patch test done to the skin if using adhesives to test for skin sensitivities. Extra care must be taken to maintain cleanliness of the hair and scalp when wearing added hair in order to maintain the health of existing hair and the scalp in general. Of course, if you are undergoing chemotherapy or are in the early stages of diagnosed alopecia areata then these procedures should be avoided as the hair they are connected to is likely to fall out as well. Either waiting for a period of time or obtaining a full prosthesis is recommended in these cases.
Yet still there is another type of treatment which is a spray of micro fibers made up of the same substance that hair is made of: keratin. If your hair is simply thinning, while you are investigating a more permanent solution to your hair loss problems or in the process of employing a particular process that takes some time, you can use these substances to cosmetically produce the appearance of thicker and fuller hair. The substance is marketed under several different names, one such being Topik®. Being a temporary solution it is relatively inexpensive, and can provide some immediate aesthetic results to bolster confidence and optimism as you work on more permanent solutions.
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