[By Evanne Lauren]
When men start to lose their hair, the experience can be nothing short of devastating. Traditionally, we have come to associate a full head of hair with strength, youth and virility. Although most men shedding more than a few strands of hair too soon, too quickly aren’t likely to discuss their emotional reaction to hair loss openly, it’s there; ranging from simple frustration and social withdrawal to loss of self worth, depression and even suicide. Besides the impact on one’s physical appearance, hair loss is very much about losing control and the undeniable passage of time and aging. As New York Times contributing editor, Daniel J. nailed it succintly with words, “”Losing your hair is a little bit like a girlfriend who’s sort of drifting away, and you’re clinging to her as she goes off and sees other people. … It gets worse and worse. So it’s better to take some sort of pre-emptive move.” Confront your fears with these 5 suggested tips to deal with a thinning crown or receding hairline, and you should find it easier to live with male pattern baldness.
Let it go
I’m not talking about Britney’s by now infamous meltdown in 2007, but shaving one’s head can be a liberating experience to embrace your male pattern baldness. Instead of holding on to your remaining hairs and painstakingly arranging them into ridiculous looking patterns in desperate attempts to hide your growing bald pate, let it go and take them all off. More actors, musicians, athletes and other cultural icons are dealing with their hair loss by embracing it and there is little stigma attached to having a shaved head. You know that moment before you take a plunge in the pool? It’s usual to be scared, anxious and overcome with anticipation, but once you gather up enough courage to jump, all those fears would dissolve and the swim can be extremely delightful!
Shaving one’s head can help boost and restore confidence and steps can be taken to further improve one’s appearance with a shaved head. This would include working out to build up an impressive physique, dressing well in colours to match your eyes and skin tone, and even trying out different facial hair patterns which you have previously overlooked.
Rub a dub dub
From beer and whiskey to mustard oil and expensive Chinese herbs, every imaginable product has found its way onto the heads of balding men in an attempt to stimulate hair growth or to prevent further loss. There are probably as many desperate home remedies as there are receding hairlines and if any of them really worked, it would be prime-time, head-line news. For all the seemingly infinite hair tonics touted to slow or reverse baldness, Minoxidil is the only FDA approved topical medication that can be rubbed into the scalp once or twice daily to tackle male pattern hair loss. Acting much like a “follicle fertilizer”, Minoxidil acts as a vasodilator that keeps hair in the growing phase longer and can increase the diameter of those downy miniaturized hairs as well. Available in 2%, 5% or in combination hair preparations such as Sloane Inc. Hair Recovery Serum with the follicle stimulating trio of Minoxidil 5%, Ginkgo Biloba and Vitamin B6 aimed to provide total “tricho-juvenation” for both sexes; 35% of men are able to slow or halt hair loss with Minoxidil and 10% reported regrowth, usually in the crown area.
The magic pill
We are talking about Propecia aka Finasteride, a prescriptive medication that treats male pattern hair loss by acting as a dihydrotestosterone (DHT) antagonist. Male pattern hair loss 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. For some unknown reason, hair on the back and sides of the scalp is not affected by DHT and thus often referred to as ‘permanent’ hair. Propecia blocks the formation of DHT which appears to inhibit further shrinking of affected hair follicles leading to either regrowth or no further hair loss. As with Minoxidil, the effects are only appreciable with continous usage and taken in early stage. 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, widely believed to be way under reported at 2% due to the embarrassing nature of such complaints.
Let it shine
Gainly momentum as an effective treatment of hair loss is laser therapy. The FDA approved Revage 670 Laser is widely recognised as the gold standard, providing a viable non-surgical option to rejuvenate thinning scalps and receding hairlines. With a total of 30 laser diodes, Revage provides critical coherent beams of laser light in a hood that goes over the scalp to ensure optimum laser energy contact, with maximum stimulation of each hair follicle at a much higher level than that provided by hand-held lasers of lesser make. Revage is safe and painless with absolutely no downtime. It works by thickening fine, miniaturized hair so besides male pattern baldness, Revage 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 treatment targets not only current hair thinning, but is useful to help prevent further hair loss.
Make it last
For permanent results and to answer your follicular woes once and for all, say yes to hair transplant. When previously hair transplant is a path less travelled, technology has improved dramatically over time, with gratifying results seen especially with the ARTAS Hair Transplantation system. Developed and pioneered by Restoration Robotics, this FDA approved procedure uses advanced digital technology and precise robotics to harvest permanent hair from the back of the head to be used for transplantation. The ARTAS System is programmed to identify and map hair from the donor site in its natural groupings on the scalp and unlike traditional manual harvesting whereby a strip of donor scalp up to 30cm in length need to be excised, the ARTAS System is able to remove hair randomly so that the selected donor area on the scalp retains its original appearance without a large gaping wound. The harvested hair is then meticulously transplanted manually into the scalp by your doctor to provide exceedingly natural looking result.
“I can’t tell you how many men are elated with the results and tell me that hair restoration has given them back not just their hair but also their lives,” affirms Dr. Chua Han Boon, hair transplant specialist heading the Hair Care & Restoration Centre of The Sloane Clinic@ ION, Singapore. “Over a period of 3-4 months, one should start to see new permanent hair and at 6 months post transplant, most patients notice steady growth with increased fullness. The new, permanent hair can be styled and cut without a hitch, allowing you to finally leave your hairy woes behind.”
To help you better understand male pattern hair loss and the latest treatments available, join Dr. Chua Han Boon @The art of HAIR RESTORATION workshop for an informative and intimate session of Q&As.
* Selected as Editor’s Choice Aug 2014*