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Balding Men: What You Need to Know Before it's Too Late
by Gregory S
A balding man might like to point at his receding hair and boast, “You cannot grow grass on a busy street,” but he might be covering up more than his hairless head. According to a recent study, over 62 percent of men say that losing their tresses could also reduce their sense of self esteem.
How Does It Start?
A loss of self confidence following any hair loss is common.
“Thick hair has always been associated with youth and masculinity,” University of Pennsylvania researcher Albert Mannes, Ph.D., explained to Yahoo! Health. The researcher has spent a portion of his career studying perceptions of balding. “Hair loss signals aging.”
Two-thirds of all men endure one form or hair loss or another by the age of 35, habitually more due to genetics than anything else. Male pattern baldness is an inherited sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which contributes to finer hair, less hair, and eventually no hair.
Can It Be Stopped?
Believe it or not, doctors can typically diagnose balding on sight. With sustained hair growth only on the top and sides of your head, the hairless areas form the letter M (as an association, think of the “M” in Male-pattern baldness). However, if your thinning hair spreads across the scalp, it may indicate a potential health issue.
“Hormonal or nutritional deficiencies, such as thyroid problems, low iron, or low protein, can cause shedding,” Carolyn Jacob, M.D., founder of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, commented to Yahoo! Health.
“Don’t assume it’s genetic,” Marc Avram, M.D., a clinical dermatology professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, agreed.
These patterns can take years to emerge, so consult a dermatologist immediately or arrange a scalp biopsy when the thinning starts.
Hair Loss Fix Its – Do They Work?
Simply stated, do not consider late night commercials claiming to reverse hair loss.
“Be wary of infomercials or Internet ads touting hair-growing shampoos or pills,” Marc Glashofer, M.D., a Long Beach dermatologist who specializes in hair loss, warned. “Most haven’t been clinically studied and are usually a waste of your money.”
If you are interested in drugs to treat hair loss, go with the ones that have been fully approved by the FDA: minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia). However, read the small print. Propecia has a history of sexual side effects and Rogaine is a long term treatment. Be advised that no drugs offer immediate results or come without side effects.
Are Hair Growth Shampoos a Sham?
When considering shampoos that promise thicker hair, only one ingredient has been proven to preserve your hair: ketoconazole. Scientists at the University of British Columbia have described ketoconazole as an antifungal used to ward off dandruff and reduce the production of testosterone (DHT) in hair follicles.
Nizoral A-D is currently the only nonprescription shampoo that contains ketoconazole.
“Use it with Propecia or Rogaine, especially if you have dandruff, because flaking can prevent penetration of Rogaine into the scalp,” Dr. Avram recommended to Yahoo! Health.
The old days of embarrassing hair plugs are long gone and have been replaced with two options: follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE).
“Surgeons harvest a strip of scalp and cut it into groups of three or four hairs,” George Cotsarelis, M.D., a professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, described FUT to Yahoo! Health.
However, those receiving the FUT treatment may be left with a thin scar. As a result, many men are considering FUE. This process involves robotically collecting and amassing individual follicles from the back of the head.
“For the past several years, we’ve performed FUE in more than 95 percent of cases,” Alan Bauman, M.D., a hair-loss specialist in Boca Raton, Florida, commented to Yahoo! Health. “It’s a shorter, less-painful recovery and completely eliminates linear scarring along the back of the head.”
But good treatment takes time, and FUE requires some significant downtime. While neither technique is cheap, with treatment prices anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, these methods constitute the most effective methods for combating hair loss today.