Male Pattern Hair Loss

Thinning lines of hair can be a source of anxiety for many men. It’s often perceived as a sign of aging, and can affect men’s self-esteem. Hair is often culturally associated with youth, virility, and loss of hair can represent a sense of loss of control. Naturally, people will have varying attitudes about hair loss. Some may not care much at all, while for some, it may be devastating.

How common of a problem is hair loss and what causes it?

More than 50% of men will suffer from hair loss before the age of 50. By the age of 35, many men will have noticeable thinning of hair. Over 95% of the cause of hair loss for men is male pattern or female pattern hair loss, which is largely determined by genetics. If your parents have a history of early hair loss, unfortunately, it’s very likely that you will also share a similar pattern of hair loss.

Is hair loss a medical concern?

Hair loss might be upsetting, but it is generally not a medical concern. Although relatively rare, hair loss can be induced by medical conditions or drugs, however. Chemotherapy, used for treating cancers is well known to cause hair loss. Other factors include stress, thyroid diseases, insufficient nutrients like iron or protein, and sometimes from physical damage to the hair from braids, overuse of curling irons, or pulling back hair too tight.

In broad strokes, can hair loss be prevented or treated?

Generally, hair loss that has a definite medical cause like dietary deficiency, stress, or medication will be reversed with relative ease once the problem has been addressed. Genetic or pattern hair loss cannot be prevented (at least as of now), and treatment will be more challenging.

What happens in male pattern hair loss?

Male pattern hair loss is the most common type of hair loss overall. Men often get bald spots around the forehead and on the top of the head. Generally the hairline recedes over years, forming a “M” shape with the middle receding earlier.

How does hair loss affect men and women?

Hair loss is associated with aging, loss of youth, and in many cases, virility. Men who are balding perceive themselves as less attractive and can feel a sense of anxiety or loss of control. In women, the emotional impact is often even more severe due to increased societal pressure on women to be attractive.

How can you treat hair loss?

First, find out what type of hair loss it is. Although pattern hair loss (the genetic type) accounts for the vast majority of hair loss, there may be another cause, which will require specific treatment. Visit your dermatologist or family doctor.

There are a few strategies for treating hair loss:

Disguising

Pragmatic and least invasive way to manage hair loss:

  • Hairweaving
  • Hairpieces
  • Hats/caps
  • Hairstyle changes

Medication

These may be prescribed by your dermatologist. They are effective, but the effect wears out once you stop taking the medication.

  • Minoxidil (Rogaine)
  • Finasteride (Propecia)

Hair Transplantation

Hair transplantation is, as the name suggests, a method of transplanting hair from an area of full hair to the area that is lacking hair. It is the most aggressive (and expensive) treatment option for hair loss, but one that is effective.

There is a common misconception that hair transplantation only lasts until that grafted hair dies, never to be replaced by new hair. Although it may seem like grafting just adds hair temporarily, this is not the idea behind hair transplantation. Called donor dominance, the transplanted hair does not take on the characteristic of the recipient site (where hair loss is a problem), but rather, imposes its original characteristics (where hair is plentiful) on the recipient site. In practice, what it means is that after successful hair transplantation, the grafted hair will actually fall out, usually within a week to two weeks due to shock. After two or three months, new hair will grow from the site where the hair was transplanted.