[By Evanne Lauren]
For every Vin Diesel or Bruce Willis type who have embraced their follicularly challenged heads with pride there are thousands making desperate and mostly futile attempts to hide their receding hairlines. Think Donald Trump with his infamous comb-over— enough said. Hair loss must be one of the greatest aesthetic challenges faced today. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hair loss affects over 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States. There are many factors leading to hair loss including skin diseases affecting the scalp, chronic illnesses, dietary deficiencies, medications, chemotherapy, stress and aging. Some women experience hair loss after pregnancy, a condition known as Postpartum Alopecia which although self-limiting can cause extreme distress to the new mother. The overwhelming majority of hair loss however belongs to the turf of the male population and is often caused by hereditary causes, the commonest being Androgenetic Alopecia otherwise known commonly as Male Pattern Baldness (MPB). MPB is genetically inherited from either side of the family and signs might surface as early as after puberty. Although MPB bears no adverse effects on one’s physical health, the condition can have tremendous repercussion on one’s social interactions and psychological well-being. Read on as RSB shares with you proven ways to effectively deal with such hairy woes.
Pop a Pill
“A pill a day keeps the hair in place?”
We are talking about Propecia, the first pill that effectively treats male pattern hair loss by acting as a dihydrotestosterone (DHT) antagonist. MPB occurs in men who are genetically susceptible to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which affects hair on the vertex and anterior mid scalp area. Hair follicles over these areas undergo a process known as ‘miniaturization’ and start to shrink in diameter and potential length until they eventually disappear; leading to the typical appearance of MPB with hair loss over the anterior hairline, crown and top of the scalp. The hair on the back and sides of the scalp is not affected by DHT and is often referred to as ‘permanent’ hair. Propecia which also goes by the pharmacological name of Finasteride, blocks the formation of DHT in your scalp. Lowering the DHT appears to inhibit the further shrinking of affected hair follicles which leads to either regrowth of hair or no further hair loss.
Although promising, Propecia seems to work well mainly in mild to moderate cases and taken in the early stages of MPB. In addition, be prepared for long term daily usage because once you stop the medication, the hair loss will definitely set in again. Besides, Propecia is also not without its side effects, the most disturbing being those that affect sexual performance. These include decreased libido, difficulty in achieving erection and a reduction in the amount of semen produced. Though reversible, it seems like an unworthy trade-off of one problem with another. In addition, it is widely believed to be way under reported at 2% due to the embarrassing nature of such complaints so consider this before usage.
Shine Some Light
Over the last few years, laser light therapy has gained momentum as a modality in the effective treatment of hair loss. The FDA approved Revage 670 Laser is widely recognised as the gold standard to your follicular woes, rejuvenating thinning hair to nothing short of resplendent. Revage 670 contains a total of 30 laser diodes, providing critical coherent beams as a direct source of laser light in a hood that goes over the scalp to ensure maximum laser energy contact with the areas to be treated. With its Rotational PhotoTherapy (RPT) system, Revage 670 maximizes stimulation of each hair follicle at a much higher level than that provided by traditional hand-held lasers.
This low-level laser energy is safe and painless with absolutely no downtime. It works by thickening fine, miniaturized hair so besides MPB, it is highly suitable for women with diffuse thinning or general weakening of their crowning glory. Studies have shown that Revage produces an 85% success rate in halting hair loss with an almost 40% of increased fullness reported. Therefore, this is not just a treatment that targets current hair thinning but is also useful to help prevent further hair loss. For optimal results, it is recommended to administer Revage laser therapy twice weekly for the first six weeks and then once a week for the subsequent 16 weeks. It should be noted that simultaneous with the laser therapy, patients are encouraged to follow medical and nutritional guidelines for enhancing hair growth. Once good hair growth has been observed, periodic touch-ups may be pertinent to maintain the benefits of this treatment.
Let it Grow
When previously hair transplant is often viewed as the last resort at the end of the road to address the final stages of MPB, mind-sets are fast changing with the introduction of the revolutionary ARTAS Robotic hair transplant system. Developed and pioneered by Restoration Robotics, this FDA approved procedure takes hair transplantation to the next level by utilizing advanced digital technology and precise robotics to give you fuller, healthy looking hair by harvesting permanent hair from the back of the head and effectively transplanting them into thinner areas, allowing them to regrow naturally. The ARTAS System is programmed to identify and map hair from the donor site in its natural groupings on the scalp. Unlike traditional manual harvesting whereby a strip of donor scalp up to 30cm in length need to be excised leaving behind a physical scar that can be challenging to care for, your doctor with the aid of the ARTAS System is able to remove hair randomly so that the selected donor area on the scalp retains its original appearance as only small dermal punches are employed in harvesting as opposed to open dissection with a scalpel. The harvested hair is then meticulously transplanted manually into the scalp by your doctor to provide exceedingly natural looking result.
One of the key issues to the success of a hair transplant is the transection rate. Transected follicles are hair that have been unintentionally divided or split and hence damaged in the process of the hair transplant procedure.
“Transection rates using the ARTAS system are about 8% as compared with 20 to 30% with manual extraction,” explains Dr. Chua Han Boon, senior consultant and hair transplant specialist with The Sloane Clinic. “Besides the better results achieved in harvesting, this can be done in half the surgery time of manual extraction with minimal minute scarring well hidden amongst the remaining hair, making it possible to return to normal activities in one to two days compared to weeks or months for strip harvesting procedures.”
The transplanted hair will then grow gradually over time. Over a period of 3-4 months, you should start to see new permanent hair and at six months post procedure, most patients notice steady growth and increasing fullness, with the majority experiencing complete results in about a year. This new, permanent hair can be styled and cut without a hitch, allowing you to finally leave those hairy woes far, far behind.
* Selected as Article of the Month Jun 2013*