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October 8, 2020 • read
Help! My hair is falling out!
Recently, you’ve noticed more hair in the sink while getting ready in the morning. Or maybe you caught a glimpse of your hairline in the rearview mirror and found it sitting a little further back than before.
Here’s the thing. So long as there aren’t any adverse side-effects, balding is normal and a natural sign of aging. 80% of men experience some balding by the age of 70 while 40% of women experience hair thinning by age 50.
Still, society puts a lot of pressure on us to look a certain way. It’s why balding is sometimes accompanied by social isolation, self-consciousness, and depression.
Whichever approach you choose to address balding — whether it’s using a safe option to reverse it or embracing the change — we’re here to help you with the information you need.
Is your balding due to an underlying health condition?
Have you only recently noticed signs of balding? Before you can select a strategy, it’s important to identify what type of balding you have.
Balding can be caused by factors such as a thyroid imbalance, childbirth, surgery, or vitamin deficiencies. Your doctor can help identify if there are health reasons for your hair loss.
Once you rule out underlying conditions, there’s a good chance that your doctor will diagnose you with androgenic alopecia. This is a genetic cause of balding that occurs in both men and women.
For men with androgenic alopecia, a receding hairline that creates an “M” shape is the most common sign. For women, hair usually thins around the entire head.
Can you slow down or reverse your balding?
Yes, you can, but results may vary. The effectiveness depends on the underlying cause of your hair loss.
For instance, androgenic alopecia is genetic and can be slowed down, but not reversed without surgery. On the other hand, balding caused by underlying medical issues can usually be reversed by treating the problem.
If you have androgenic alopecia, here are a few options to slow the process down.
Minoxidil, commonly referred to as Rogaine, is a popular option for slowing hair loss caused by androgenic alopecia. It’s an over-the-counter solution that restores idle hair follicles when applied. Rogaine is mostly taken by women since it’s more effective for tackling overall hair thinning instead of a receding hairline.
Low-level light therapy
Red light therapy, also known as low-level light therapy, directs photons towards weak hair follicles in the tissue of your scalp. The photons are then absorbed to stimulate hair growth. Generally, light therapy is considered safer and less intrusive than surgical procedures like hair transplants. Notably, this method is more suitable for early stage hair loss as opposed to late stage hair loss.
Results vary from person to person, but when laser solutions work, people observe healthier, thicker hair in about half a year.
One of the most appealing aspects is the availability of a low cost alternative. Low-level light therapy can be done in the comfort of your own home without a doctors’ appointment, and takes approximately 15 minutes per session.
If you want to reverse hair loss rather than slow it down, a hair transplant may be what you’re after. Hair follicles from other parts of your body are placed on balding areas of your head, allowing for new hair growth.
The procedure lasts about 4-8 hours and costs about $4000 to $15,000. Afterwards, your scalp may be tender for a few days. You’ll be able to resume normal activities 2-5 days after the surgery.
This procedure is helpful for baldness due to injuries as well as androgenic alopecia.
Platelet rich plasma treatments
Platelet rich plasma treatments, also known as PRP treatments, are another option for slowing down hair loss.
Tiny blood cells called platelets contain growth factors that can encourage the growth of existing hair. They can even be used alongside a hair transplant to strengthen the growth of the transplanted hair follicles.
During the procedure, doctors draw blood from your arm so that they can isolate the PRP. Then they numb the thinning spots on your scalp and inject iPRP to stimulate hair growth.
The entire process only takes about 30 minutes. With the exception of light bruising and a hold on washing the affected areas for 48 hours, patients can continue with their daily lives as usual.
Medication is also an option, but it’s important to have a thorough conversation with your doctor before starting any treatment.
Researchers have observed that Finasteride, a medication popularly used by men, reduced balding in 83% of men who applied it regularly. However, researchers at John Hopkins University have found that Finasteride may make it harder to diagnose patients with prostate cancer.
Women may be prescribed anti-androgen medications such as spironolactone in order to reduce their hair loss. These are highly effective as most female cases of pattern baldness are androgen dependent conditions.
Embracing hair loss
If you’re not interested in reversing hair loss but you’re still struggling with the change, here are a few things to keep in mind.
First, hair loss is not life threatening. So long as you’ve ruled out any underlying conditions, you’re perfectly healthy.
Second, your hair is not the only appealing thing about you. Your personality, talents, and attitude towards others are what’s important. This may seem like small comfort at first, but it’s a reminder that hair loss should not affect how you move through the world.
Finally, embracing hair loss doesn’t mean accelerating hair loss. A great stylist can give you a haircut that works with your current hair thickness, or even help you learn how to incorporate wigs into your personal style. If you want to talk to a doctor or dermatologist about your treatment options, you can speak to one online from the comfort of your home. Whether you want to keep your dreams of luscious hair, or plan to embrace your scalp in any state, there are options to support your choice.