The average human scalp has about 100,000-150,000 hairs. These hairs are organized within follicular units, with each follicular unit having 1-4 hairs associated with sebaceous glands and other structures. To begin to understand hair loss, it’s important to understand the hair growth cycle, which consists of three distinct stages:
- Anagen Phase: this is the growth phase with 90% of hairs normally within this phase. It typically lasts about 3-5 years.
- Catagen Phase: at the end of the anagen phase, hairs begin to enter this degradation phase, which last about 2-3 weeks.
- Telogen Phase: Lastly, hairs enter this resting phase where hairs begin to shed, lasting about 3-4 months. On average, 50-100 hairs fall out every day during this phase.
Each hair independently goes through the growth cycle at different times, otherwise all your hair would fall out at the same time. In conditions where the anagen phase is shortened and the telogen phase is prolonged, hair loss begins to exceed hair growth, leading to thinning and eventual baldness.
Hair Loss for Men
Male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia is responsible for the vast majority of hair loss in men and is caused by a combination of heredity and hormonal activity. Sufferers of male pattern baldness have hair follicles that are sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a by-product of testosterone (converted by 5-alpha-reductase). Hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT begin to miniaturize, shortening the lifespan of each hair follicle affected. Typically, men begin to notice a receding hairline and thinning at the top of the scalp. The pattern can progress to a more advanced stage of baldness, which involves the entire top of the scalp, leaving only a rim or “horseshoe” of hair at the back and sides of the scalp. Generally, the earlier the onset of alopecia, the more severe it will be. The Norwood Scale depicts the progression of hair loss.
Hair Loss for Women
Although thought to be a strictly male problem, women account for 40% of American hair loss sufferers. There are numerous potential causes of hair loss in women and include androgenic alopecia (hormonal imbalance with increase of male hormone). In women, this typically causes diffuse thinning at the front and top of the scalp (female pattern hair loss). Other causes include childbirth, extreme stress, crash diets, thyroid problems, medications and other medical conditions:
- Alopecia Areata, a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles causing hair to fall out in patches
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a chronic hormonal imbalance that produces higher levels of androgens (male hormone)
Because of the numerous potential causes, it is important to rule out the medical and reversible causes of hair loss in women before proceeding with consideration of a hair transplant procedure.
For men and women, the emotional impact of hair loss can be devastating with damage to confidence and self-image. Although certain medications like Propecia (finasteride), a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, can prevent further hair loss, it does little to regain an appreciable amount of hair back. Further, it must be used indefinitely to maintain a response and can be associated with side effects like impotence. Fortunately, with recent advances in follicular unit extraction (FUE) techniques, the NeoGraft® 2.0 Automated Hair Transplant System now provides you an opportunity to regain your hair as part of a minimally invasive procedure with a natural result, little downtime and no linear scar.
Contact us today at Farris Plastic Surgery to schedule your consultation!