Perceptions and misconceptions abound regarding hair loss, its cause and treatment. Let’s dispel some of those myths.
- There is nothing you can do about hair loss.
False. The incidence of hair loss is very common in both men and women (male pattern and female pattern baldness). Non-surgical FDA approved medications for hair loss are minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia). We have seen success with Viviscal tablets as well.
PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections are also a very effective treatment for many people. Blood is collected from the patient, processed, and the platelets with their growth factors are injected into the scalp, stimulating hair follicles to grow hair. After the initial series, once a year injections are usually needed to maintain hair growth.
- The ultimate treatment is hair transplant surgery.
True. Both male and female pattern baldness are usually excellent candidates. Hair transplantation usually yields permanent hair growth. However, it does not stop future loss of existing hair in the balding area. This is where the non-surgical treatments can be useful.
Hair transplant techniques: Removing the grafts with a “strip” of scalp, called FUT (Follicular Unit Transplant) leaves a faint linear scar on the back of the scalp and requires sutures for about 10 days.
For those with short hair, the FUE (follicular Unit Extraction) is the preferred technique because of the lack of donor site scar. NeoGraft is automated FUE hair transplant, a very accurate technology with a very high percentage of success.
- Everyone is a good candidate for hair transplantation.
False. Those with insufficient donor sites are not good candidates. Scar alopecia patients must be evaluated in person by a specialist to determine candidacy. Other forms of alopecia must be individually evaluated.
- Washing hair too frequently causes hair loss.
False. We have up to 150,000 hair follicles, and those follicles go through three stages: growth, falling out, and dormant stages. During the average falling-out stage, we daily lose 50 to 100 hairs, regardless of shampoos.
- Wearing a hat causes hair to fall out.
False. If the hat isn’t too tight, it causes no harm.
- Braids cause hair loss.
True. A most common cause of hair loss, called Traction Alopecia, can cause permanent loss. Even tight ponytails can cause hair loss. This is treatable with hair transplantation, providing it’s not too severe.
- Hormone problems can cause hair loss.
True, most definitely. For male pattern baldness, the usual offender is DHT (Dihydrotestosterone). Testosterone converts to DHT, and DHT causes hair loss in susceptible men and women.
Taking anabolic steroids is a common cause of elevated DHT and hair loss, and the loss can be permanent.
Other issues causing hair loss are either elevated or insufficient thyroid hormone, anemia, anorexia, chemotherapy, and pregnancy.
- Anesthesia and stress can cause hair loss.
True, but it is usually not permanent loss.
- Chemicals cause hair loss.
True. Harsh chemicals are frequently used on hair and can cause burns and permanent hair loss. These cause scar alopecia, which is very commonly seen by hair restoration specialists.
E. Ronald Finger, MD, FACS is a board certified plastic surgeon with offices in Savannah and Bluffton. www.fingerand associates.com