Male-pattern baldness – ie. genetics – may be the most talked about and dreaded of hair loss types, but there are many other causes that lead to hair loss.
Board-certified Southern California hair transplant surgeon, Dr. Amir Yazdan, regularly sees patients who suffer from many different types of hair loss, and it’s not uncommon for patients to be surprised at their diagnoses. The internet can be a rich source of opinion and information – but it can never accurately assess and diagnose a unique and personal hair loss situation. To get to the root of one’s hair loss problem, you need the expert eyes and technical prowess of a specialist in person.
The most complained about cause of hair loss is male pattern baldness, also known as hereditary hair loss or androgenic alopecia, as it frequently causes visible signs of loss and impacts about 70 percent of all men in the United States. But there are also five more to watch for if you’re wondering what is causing your hair loss.
- Androgenic alopecia: This cause is typically identified by its predictable pattern of progression. In men, loss appears as a receding hairline and a bare patch on the back of the head. Women typically experience increasing overall thinning. A hair transplant that gathers healthy grafts from loss-resistant areas of the scalp and fills in areas where too much skin is showing is a common and effective method for combatting this problem.
- Hormonal imbalances: Major fluctuations in body chemistry can trigger hair loss, and many of them have to do with significant life events, such as getting pregnant, giving birth, or entering menopause. While those are all women-focused hormone shifts, men go through a transition known as andropause. Fortunately, a shift may be due to something as simple as diet. Unfortunately, testosterone, estrogen, and other chemicals may be off-kilter due to any of a variety of medical conditions, including thyroid problems.
- Medical conditions: Autoimmune diseases like lupus can account for hair loss, making a medical diagnosis particularly important in many cases. Most hair-loss-causing health conditions, such as diabetes, also have other symptoms, so a doctor should consider the patient as a whole when determining the cause of loss.
- Infections: Ringworm – a fungal infection that doesn’t actually involve worms – can cause hair to fall out if it develops on the scalp, and it’s not the only skin condition that can lead to bald patches. In the case of infections, usually no hair transplant is needed, a good antibiotic will do the trick.
- Medications: Chemotherapy is the most obvious example in this category. Natural growth typically resumes after the treatments resolve, whether they’re regular doses of chemicals to fight cancer or herbal remedies intended to help with pain.
- Traction alopecia: Hair that is styled in a harsh way. Most common among African American men and women who tie their hair into tight braids. Men who have hair long enough to put into a ponytail or wear a similarly pulled-back style may lose hair to the act of gathering the hair together and tugging it tight into a band.
Treatments (for each type of hair loss)
For androgenic alopecia, non-invasive therapies may slow the progression of hair loss, but only a hair transplant will provide permanent (ie. decades) coverage and relief. FUE or FUT are the gold standard. In hair transplantation, hair follicles are taken from areas of the scalp that are resistant to androgen and transplanted into areas that are androgen dependent.
Remember (!): The aesthetic effectiveness of the hair transplant varies depending on the expertise, experience and ability of the surgeon.
For hormonal imbalances, infections and medications invasive surgery is usually not needed, as when the imbalance clears up so does the robustness of the hair growth cycle. Instead, topical treatments like Rogaine or orally ingested Propecia are two non-surgical methods of treatment that help slow the rate of hair loss and to promote fuller hair growth.
For traction alopecia, choosing the right treatment plan will depend on whether or not the damage to the hair follicles is reversible. Upon first noticing the effects of traction alopecia it is necessary to put into practice looser hair styling practices. It is at this stage that we recommend a potent cocktail of Minoxidil and GroMD shampoo and conditioner. Both of these potent medical therapies serve to block DHT (the hair follicle killer) and enhance blood flow to the scalp. Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical medication.
Research has indicated that the majority of men who use the medicine consistently demonstrate a deceleration in hair loss and a re-growth of miniaturized follicles.
GroMD products are also boosted with Saw Palmetto, Stinging Nettle and Licorice Root Extract, all DHT blockers found in nature. This product also contains caffeine and menthol to dilate the blood vessels around each hair follicle for improved circulation. Ultimately this therapeutic program will stimulate dormant follicles and allow vital nutrients to reach every hair strand.
If hair follicles are permanently damaged, however, they will no longer be able to grow new hair. At this point, hair transplant surgery will be the best way to restore normal coverage.
Dr. Amir Yazdan, MD, is an internationally renowned hair transplant surgeon, expert guest on Dr. Phil and The Doctors, creator of the GroMD hair restoration product line, ISHRS member, accredited member of the IAHRS and a visceral advocate for patient care. Learn more about Dr. Yazdan or read rave reviews from his patients.