Hair follicles are self-generating. They live just beneath the skin. However, they’re unique. Follicle stem cells don’t divide normally. Unlike other cells that split and each spawn into new cells, only one half of these do that. The other half doesn’t divide. It simply awaits new generation at a future date. However, that new generation doesn’t always occur. And, as a result, hair is slowly lost over time.
While our understanding of hair loss has expanded over the years, there are still certain things that remain unknown. For example, in the primary growth phase of hair, also known as anagen, there’s an unknown signal sent to the stem cells in the hair follicles that gives the go ahead for growth of that hair. This spawns a flurry of growth. In fact, at any given time, up to 90% of all the hair cells we have are in this first stage.
Yet, losing hair is quite common. Especially as we age. But the most frustrating part of hair loss is its unbalanced affect on men. This seemingly random occurrence isn’t quite random. It originates from genetic predispositions. And as a result, some men lose their hair early on while others keep their hair their entire lives. Still, while some things are yet to be understood about hair loss, our knowledge and our ability to treat it at its root cause has accelerated over the years.
How Does Hair Loss Happen?
To understand how and why men lose their hair, you have to understand the process of hair growth from beginning to end. In total, there are 3 stages in the hair growth cycle. Starting from the inception in the hair follicle, all the way to actual hair loss.
- Anagen – This is the growth phase, which lasts for roughly 2 to 7 years. It also determines how long your hair will be.
- Catagen – This is the transition stage, which lasts for roughly 10 days. In catagen, your hair follicles end up shrinking and detaching from the dermal papillae, or the upper most layer of the dermis.
- Telogen – This is the resting stage of hair. It lasts for approximately three months. In the telogen stage, which includes nearly 15 percent of all hair, hair is released and starts to falls out.
Hair loss is a natural part of the hair growth cycle. In fact, we lose hair our entire lives. However, the tricky part with hair loss is when new hair fails to regenerate. For men, this is a common problem. In fact, male pattern baldness affects roughly two-thirds of all men by the time they’re 35 years old. At 50, it impacts a whopping 85% who experience thinning hair and complete hair loss.
This M-shaped pattern hair loss occurs due to androgenic alopecia. Men who experience this are often linked with higher levels of testosterone, amongst others such as sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). However, past theories on permanent hair loss have recently been disproven, and the problem is most likely dormant hair follicles rather than dead ones.
Most scientists think that genes are susceptible to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is an androgen (male sex hormone) that causes hair follicles to shrink, reducing the anagen stage and increasing the telogen stage, helping to bring on male pattern baldness. Since genetics plays a large role in it, some men are not susceptible to DHT due to their genetic makeup. Since hormonal factors play such a large role in men’s hair loss, by actually blocking DHT, men can treat hair loss.
Can Men Prevent Balding Once It Begins?
The short answer? Yes. There are ways to prevent hair loss or from going bald. However, it does involve taking pills or Minoxidil indefinitely. Minoxidil increases the anagen stage while decreasing the telogen stage. According to most studies, Minoxidil helps roughly 40% of men regrow their hair within a 3 to 6-month timeframe. That’s a fairly significant success rate for a non-invasive hair loss treatment option.
Minoxidil is a vasodilator. Yet, it’s still unclear how Minoxidil actually works to help with hair growth. However, there are other prevention methods. Finasteride is the alternative to Minoxidil. It’s an enzyme inhibitor. It helps block testosterone from being converted to DHT. And most studies have indicated that Finasteride has a 90% success rate amongst men.
Some men even decide to take both Minoxidil (Rogaine) and Finasteride (Propecia) at the same time, which usually produces even better results. Yet, neither of this solutions is a cure for hair loss. It’s simply preventative care. While they’re both popular options for preventing hair loss, they’re not really hair loss treatments or cures per-say.
Hair Loss Treatment Options Available Today
While we still haven’t discovered the cure for male pattern baldness just yet, there are treatment options available today to help stop and even reverse hair loss in its entirety. However, that doesn’t help men who’ve already lost a majority of their hair and are looking for more of a full head of hair quickly.
In fact, most treatment options available for when you lose your hair often take a considerable amount of time to work. These options, such as Rogaine (Minoxidil) and Proscar (Finasteride) take 3 to 6 months to work. They’re great for preventative care and for a slow reversal. But they won’t give you a full head of hair overnight.
Depending on how invasive you want to go, there are surgical procedures available. These hair transplants will cost you, however. They can run upwards of $5,000 to $20,000 for a single procedure. But if you’re looking for fast results and you have the money to spend a hair transplant just might be the way to go.
1. Hair Transplant Surgery
Hair transplant is a surgical procedure that involves moving existing hair to regions where hair is non-existent. There are two types of hair transplant surgeries that are available:
- Follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) – A small strip, roughly 6 to 10 inches in length, is removed from the back of the head then sewn shut. It’s hidden by existing hair. That strip is divided into as many as 200 separate grafts. How many grafts you get all depends on your particular hair type and what’s needed in each region.
- Follicular unit extraction (FUE) – Follicles are removed one by one from the back of the scalp. Small dots replace the areas where follicles were removed as they heal over time. Then, those are grafted in the proper areas that require the healthy follicles. Each follicle is transplanted into the area that requires it in a painstaking procedure that lasts roughly 4 to 8 hours.
For both types of hair transplant surgery, you can expect to return to work and be normal in only a few days. However, hair growth begins relatively quickly after it falls out. To quicken the pace, doctors often prescribe Minoxidil to help speed up the pace of that growth.
2. Testosterone Therapies
There are many causes and even more theories on why men lose hair. But one of the prevailing thoughts amongst the scientific community is that there’s an association of high testosterone levels with hair loss. However, this isn’t the standard free testosterone that roams your system. Rather, this is the DHT, which is converted from testosterone, and what causes hair follicles to shrink.
Since DHT is the culprit, hair loss is not associated with high levels of regular testosterone. But rather, the DHT levels. Keep in mind that DHT is far more potent than testosterone. In fact, studies have indicated that it’s five times more potent. Since your hair follicles are very sensitive tot he presence of DHT, a high level of DHT in your body can cause sudden losses of hair over short periods.
However, male pattern baldness is not associated with the actual levels of DHT in your body. It has more to do with the actual sensitivity of your hair follicles to those levels. That’s something controlled by your genetics and is entirely out of your control. That’s why some men have a full head of hair into their 80’s, 90’s and even 100’s, while other begin to go bald in their 20’s and 30’s.
The drugs that interfere with testosterone levels are Minoxidil (Rogaine), Finasteride (Propecia), Dutasteride (Avodart) and others. Minoxidil is quite possibly the most popular hormone therapy related hair loss treatment option in the country. It helps to prevent testosterone from converting into DHT, the hormone that causes hair follicles to shrink and disappear over time. It does this by inhibiting the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, which is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into DHT.
3. Laser Treatment
Low-level laser therapy is another treatment option for hair loss. It has its pros and its cons. Some refer to this as cold laser therapy while others call it red light therapy But either way you look at it, laser treatments are use to irradiate photos into the tissues of the scalp. When the photos are irradiated into the scalp, it promotes hair growth by absorbing into the weaker stem cells in follicles.
While some people swear by this type of laser treatment, others are skeptical. The truth is that the results are not consistent. It works for some while not working for others. However, studies have indicated that this type of therapy for hair loss is safe and it is somewhat effective. One of the best parts of laser treatment options are that they’re non-invasive. Unlike surgical procedures, they’re also not painful.
Laser treatments also work to promote the overall strength of your hair. Plus, there are no harmful side effects as a result. Yet, not everyone is convinced by the laser treatment options available today. To see any real results, it’s incredibly time-intensive, requiring you to sit through numerous sessions every single week. And, this often extends over many months of doing so. Plus, laser treatments are costly, running you upwards of several thousands of dollars every single year.
However, the biggest drawback to getting laser treatment therapy for your thinning hair or male pattern baldness is that, overall, it might not pan out to be effective. Since the results can vary based on each individual, there’s no uniformity or guarantee that laser therapy is going to work for you. Still, that certainly doesn’t stop people from experimenting with it. Yet, one thing you do need to be cautious of is the potential interaction with other drugs. It shouldn’t be taken
4. PRP Therapy
PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma. It involves three separate steps. Blood is first drawn from the patient. Then, it’s processed and injected back into the patient through the scalp. This is a more invasive procedure that works to promote natural hair growth through an increased blood flow. By increasing the blood flow directly to the hair follicles, it also works to promote stronger hair.
Oftentimes, this type of therapy is combined with testosterone therapies such as Minoxidil and Finasteride. The blood drawn from the patient is typically drawn through the arm. Afterwards, that blood is placed into a centrifuge that spins it at a high rate of speed, separating the various fluids based on their densities. This process takes roughly 10 minutes, after which the blood is separated into three separate layers:
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
- Red blood cells
- Platelet-poor plasma
The PRP is then injected back into the scalp into the areas that require increased hair growth. However, not enough research exists to prove whether or not PRP therapy is highly effective. Yet, that doesn’t stop most patients from seeking it out and trying it. The therapy lasts roughly 4 to 6 weeks, with a maintenance period afterwards that runs roughly 4 to 6 months. Pricing for PRP therapy really depends on where you live. For the most part, expect to pay roughly $400 to $1000 per session, making it a more costly treatment option for your hair loss.
Are You Experiencing Hair Loss?
If you’re experiencing hair loss, let us ship you out a free dose of our potent Minoxidil product that’s been proven highly effective for male pattern baldness. It’s also a very non-invasive way to treat hair loss. Click here to learn more about it and order your free dose while supplies last.