Hair is part of our body that we take for granted and we can’t even think of losing them in our teenage years. Well, the truth is when they start to shed, it gives a hard blow to your confidence and self-esteem.
What is hair loss?
Hair loss is the loss of hair from the body, it can be a loss from one part of a body or a whole body. Hair loss in most cases involves the head and affects approximately 60% of men and 10% of women. Less commonly, it also involves eyebrows, eyelashes, or the entire body. Your hair is an important part of your identity because it is always one of the first things people notice. You make a significant effort to make your hair and ultimately your whole appearance stand out.
Symptoms of hair loss
So how will you know you are having a hair loss. Well, here are few symptoms you may encounter commonly:
- Thinning of hair at top of the head occurring gradually
- The hairline at the front and sides of your forehead starts to recede (going backward).
- The appearance of bald spots on the head in patches or a circular manner
- Loss of hair from eyebrows and beard in form of patches
- Scarring of the scalp, skin lesions, and dandruff is also associated with hair loss.
Causes of hair loss
Several factors are responsible for causing hair loss:
Hereditary conditions are a common cause of hair loss in both men and women. This condition is “ANDROGENIC ALOPECIA”. Male and female pattern baldness also refers to this condition. In males, this condition manifests with thinning and loss of hair from the top and front of the head or both. In females, it presents with thinning of hair at the top or crown of the head with intact hairlines. A family history of hair loss is a strong predictor of hair loss in men and occurs in most men with increasing age.
Different body conditions disturbing hormonal balance cause hair loss like thyroid problems, pregnancy, and childbirth.
Various infections contribute to hair loss like fungal infections (ringworm), skin infections (cellulitis, folliculitis), and syphilis.
Some medical conditions like diabetes, lupus erythematosus, and auto Immune diseases like alopecia areata also cause hair loss.
Burns, major surgeries, and emotional stress causes rapid hair loss, a condition also called telogen effluvium (a condition caused by excessive stress in which hair follicles are arrested at a resting stage and don’t grow anymore resulting in thinning and hair fall)
Some drugs also cause hair fall. Chemotherapy is the most common example. Other drugs are anti-depressants, drugs used for arthritis, birth control, and anabolic steroids.
What to do if you’re having hair fall?
Hair loss always comes with a lot of problems regarding self-image. It causes stress and psychological disturbance. You feel less confident, struggle with low-esteem, and also partner up with depression and anxiety.
All this sounds disastrous to you, right? There’s some good news waiting for you. You can still restore your hair using modern techniques depending on some conditions and that’s what we’re going to tell you.
What treatment options do you have?
You have seen a lot of ads about medicines, oils, shampoos, and other products to restore your hair, more than you previously had. The truth is some of these may help in controlling your hair fall but none of these products you see on television and billboards are going to be your saviors. Seeking treatment for some underlying conditions like hypothyroidism and diabetes may control hair loss.
Most commonly used for hereditary hair loss or baldness are:
- Minoxidil is available in form of spray, and foam and is applied to your affected spots on the head. It is seen to reduce hair fall and promote hair growth after six months approximately.
- Finasteride is used in pill form once a day. It may also slow hair growth and helps in hair growth.
These medicines have mild to moderate effects and don’t suit everyone. Not to mention, they have unfavorable side effects that most often look for alternatives to minoxidil.
Hair transplant has become increasingly popular in recent decades and the most performed cosmetic procedure in men. It is generally considered an option after other methods are proved ineffective.
Generally, hair transplant procedures are of two types:
FOLLICULAR UNIT TRANSPLANT(FUT)In FUT, a strip of skin containing hair follicles from a Donor site (a site of the head, mostly at the back of the head and on sides of the head, which contains natural thick hair, and which has not fallen or undergone baldness) is taken by giving a linear incision after the local anesthetic has been injected.
This skin strip is then further incised to separate hair follicles from surrounding tissue microscopically. During this time the recipient site (where there is baldness and thinning of hair, mostly front and sides of the head) is prepared by creating tiny separate holes for transplantation of hair follicles.
When the follicles are extracted they are transplanted individually to a recipient site. The incision is sutured which is removed after 10 to 14 days from the donor site.
- FOLLICULAR UNIT EXTRACTION(FUE)
Another technique is Follicular unit extraction(FUE). In FUE the donor area is first shaved and then instead of taking a skin strip, follicular units are directly extracted from a donor site and then implanted on recipient sites.
Both procedures have their advantages and disadvantages. It depends on the patient’s hair condition, the extent of baldness, age, previous hair transplants, the patient’s expectation, and finally the surgeon’s assessment and recommendation.
Comparing FUT and FUE:
- Preferred for patients who need maximum hair grafting
- No need to shave donor site
- Shorter time for surgery for FUE
- Less expensive than FUE
- A horizontal scar remains on the donor side
- No scar is there
- Recovery is early as compared to FUT
- Suitable for young patients with less hair fall area
- Greater surgical time
- Expensive than FUT
Other options include stem cell therapy and robotic surgeries. These are new advancements that are refined over time and help in getting more painless and desirable transplantation.
Are you a good candidate for a hair transplant?
Everyone planning or undergoing a hair transplant questions about him being a good candidate or not. Many different conditions play their role in achieving the desired effects of hair transplant surgery. Following conditions strongly favor a great hair transplant:
- MALE PATTERN BALDNESS: If you are a candidate having male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia (thinning and loss of hair from front and top of head) for more than 5 years almost
- RICH DONOR SITES: If you have dense donor sites that are thick with sufficient hair at back and sides of the head, then it can be done.
- FEMALE CANDIDATES: If you are a female experiencing male pattern baldness and thinning of hair, after ruling out other causes, then you are a good candidate for a hair transplant.
- LESS FACIAL HAIRS: If you are a male with a patchy beard and less facial hair
- LOSS OF EYEBROWS: If your eyebrows are less dense and there is a loss of hair. A hair transplant can also be done for missing eyelashes.
- BURN AND TRAUMA VICTIM: If you suffered from burns and mechanical trauma to your hair
- HAIR LOSS DUE TO SCARRING: if you had scarring of your scalp either from medical procedures like some neurosurgical procedure and facelift resulting in scarring of your scalp
- RESTORING YOUR PREVIOUS TRANSPLANT: If you had previously done a hair transplant and now that looks odd to you due to unequal distribution and pattern and you want to add density and pattern to your transplants.
What determines the success rate of a hair transplant?
The type of hair you have and some of their features also decide your potential for a good candidate.
- DENSITY OF HAIR
A surgeon will always, first, look at your hair density at the donor site (On the back and sides of the head). Adequate and thick hair is always a good feature for a hair transplant. If the density of hair is low or insufficient hair is present, there is a poor chance of your hair transplant.
- TEXTURE OF HAIR:
If you have curly hair, then that’s good news for you. Curly hair tends to occupy more area thus giving a dense look of hair as compared to straight hair.
- COLOUR OF HAIR:
The more your hair matches your scalp color, the greater your chances of achieving the desired effect. A greater difference between your hair and scalp makes the bald area more visible thus reducing desired results. If you have the same hair and scalp color, you are good to go.
- THICKNESS OF HAIR:
Thicker hair blocks more light from passing through them and reflecting on the scalp thus making the baldness less visible while thinner hair helps pass more light creating a clear view of baldness. If you have thicker hair not only your number of grafts will be reduced, but also it will make your transplant more successful.
- LAXITY OF SCALP:
If your scalp has more laxity, it will be easy for your surgeon to remove follicles and transplant them to your recipient site. If the scalp is tight (low laxity) it will make follicles extraction more difficult thus affecting the quality of hair transplant.
Signs you’re not a suitable candidate for hair transplant
You may not be a better candidate for a hair transplant due to the following features:
- Diffuse nonpatterned alopecia: A condition with thinning and loss of hair that is present around the entire scalp and not just around the sides and top of the head. It is present in 2-6% of people.
- Women with female pattern baldness: There is thinning of hair which is diffuse due to which there is no perfect donor site available.
- Insufficient donor area: Not enough donor site present due to excessive hair fall or trauma
- Unrealistic expectation: Expecting to get back all your previously long dense hair with hair transplant
- Uncontrolled conditions: If certain medical conditions like Diabetes and Thyroid problems are not in control then hair transplantation is of no use.
- Psychological issues: Trichotillomania (a condition in which there is repeated pulling of hair involuntarily by the patient) if untreated, results in pulling of transplanted hair also making transplantation futile.
What to expect from hair transplantation?
One of the most decisive factors while going for a hair transplant is your expectation. Some people believe that going through a surgical and a bit costly procedure will solve their problem and will give them the dense natural look they had before hair fall. The truth is like all other procedures this too has its limitations.
You need to understand that exactly your previous look cannot be restored. This process involves the transplant of a limited number of hair follicles and all of them don’t grow into complete thick hair. There is also shedding of transplanted follicles after some time.
Some of you may believe that undergoing repeated surgery for their hair loss will cover for their loss while the reality is the surgery itself is a traumatic procedure and sometimes can do more harm than good in a process called “Shock loss of hairs” where there is more hair loss and thinning due to repeated trauma.
So, anyone of you planning to get a hair transplant should keep a reality check.
Hair transplant side effects
Some of these side effects can be expected after surgery, but with the use of modern techniques, they are greatly reduced.
- Temporary loss of hair
Hair transplant surgery is a modern and effective treatment for hair loss as compared to all other treatment options.
Its results are desirable and satisfactory if patients have certain requirements fulfilled. Also, the result greatly depends on the expertise and technique of the surgeon. Always discuss your expectations with your surgeon and dermatologist and surely go for Hair Transplant if you fit the criteria and your surgeon recommends.