With 50% of the male population alleged to be affected by the condition to a certain degree, it’s difficult for the notorious pattern of hair loss to not have caught your attention.
It’s so peculiar a fact for this condition to take on a particular pattern, leaving us with questions to wear our anxiety-ridden minds. Well, alas, if you have lost sleep over this mystery, you may sigh in relief for we are not merely going to decipher the puzzle, but help you find the best remedies to counteract its effects.
Causes of androgenic alopecia
The condition often initiates with a receding hairline that simultaneously demolishes the self-esteem of the individual affected. Most resort to one of the many myths that still circulate around, which states the condition is a result of increased testosterone levels, like bandaid to their wounded self-esteem.
While the phenomenon of androgenic alopecia is to be entirely attributed to androgens, it’s certainly not the abundance of androgens that cause the onset of the symptoms. On the contrary, the matter is entirely related to androgen sensitivity. Follicular units could either be androgen sensitive or androgen insensitive; and either property is not acquired but rather inherited. Androgen sensitive follicular units are mostly found in the crown area and the hairline.
Androgen sensitivity is a condition that refers to the miniaturization of follicular units as a denouement of cellular activity triggered by the binding of androgens. Once a follicular unit gradually shrinks to completely miniaturize, the case is irreversible. On the other hand, the androgen resistant follicular units remain unaffected by the effects of testosterone, or more specifically a stronger version of testosterone: DHT. Follicular units susceptible to dormancy tend to have higher DHT receptors in comparison to androgen resistant follicular units.
Thereby, the polar opposite effects of DHT on follicular units, is what yields the infamous hair loss pattern. Since the properties are inherited, the development of the condition varies from one scalp to the other.
Treating androgenic alopecia
Androgenic alopecia treatments are divided into two categories. The first category is focused on treating non-advanced androgenic alopecia. Since the dormancy of follicular units is permanent, advanced hair loss treatments require an entirely different approach to reversing hair loss.
Non-advanced androgenic alopecia treatments
It is ideal to seek treatment soon as the symptoms of androgenic alopecia become noticeable, which include excessive shedding of hair from the crown and hair line. Seeking professional help early on will reverse the symptoms without the intervention of surgery.
Minoxidil is a solution that terminates the miniaturization of follicular units through an unknown mechanism. The solution comes in the form of either a serum or a shampoo that successfully disables the symptoms of androgenic alopecia in non-advance cases.
The possible side effects include a rash on the scalp and increased body hair when in contact with the body.
Finasteride reverses the symptoms of androgenic alopecia through immobilizing the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme responsible for catalyzing the conversion to testosterone to the more aggressive version DHT. Finasteride comes in the form of a pill that has to be taken twice daily. Common side effects include erectile dysfunction.
Advanced hair loss treatments
Past a certain point of progression in androgenic alopecia, non-surgical remedies are out of the question.
Nothing can restore the dormant follicular units, and any solution available will revolve around replacing the follicular units. Fortunately for those affected by androgenic alopecia, the condition holds the solution in its very characteristics. Patients who don’t suffer complete baldness due to androgenic alopecia, the androgenic resistant follicular units are your silver lining. Relocating the androgen resistant follicular units to areas of hair loss can counteract the effects of the condition.
Hair transplant is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of androgen resistant follicular units and relocating them to areas of hair loss. As the androgen resistant characteristics are genetically determined and incapable of being altered, the transplanted follicular units continue generating hair growth in the new location post adapting and recovering from the trauma of relocation.
There are two different types of hair transplants that yield similar results with varying satisfaction. The two techniques are follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE).
Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)
FUT is a souvenir from the past when hair transplant first emerged. The technique is relatively invasive in comparison to its counterpart FUE.
To obtain follicular units from areas of hair growth, FUT requires the incision of an entire strip from the scalp and later dissecting. The method of graft extraction in FUT poses a risk of nerve damage as the wound is often deep enough to cut the nerves beneath. In addition to either a permanent or temporary nerve damage, the wound heals into a visible linear scar in the donor regions.
Follicular unit’s extraction (FUE)
Given the limitations of FUT and its relatively adverse side effects, the science community couldn’t rest knowing a more convenient technique should and could be achieved. Shortly after, FUE hair transplants emerged. The enhancements on FUE eliminated the risk of nerve damage and visible scarring.
FUE individually extracts follicular units using a micro punch. The wounds heal into micro scars with no risk of never damage.
Are hair transplants for everyone?
As is the case with anything that is too good to be true, hair transplants are not effective on all variations of the condition.
The success of the surgery relies entirely on your reservoir of androgen resistant follicular units to be sufficient enough to cover the balding scalp without locating baldness to donor regions.
Therefore, you have to have your scalp assessed prior to building your dreams on a procedure that could potentially not be for you.
Vera Clinic Istanbul, a pioneer hair transplant center offers online consultation for patients interested in the procedure free of charge. A medical specialist will follow through with your case and request pictures of your scalp from various directions to thoroughly assess your case. In a few hours’ time, the medical specialist will respond back to you with a clear answer regarding your illegibility for the procedure.