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Baldness: what causes it and what are my hair restoration options?

Hair loss affects both men and women, but outright baldness remains a fate reserved mostly for men. Once hair loss has reached the advanced stages of baldness, there is little that can be done to treat it. It is vital that action is taken as soon as the early signs become apparent. If addressed promptly, with the right hair restoration treatment, it is possible for men to prevent baldness and even regrow hair.


What is male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness is the most common cause for hair loss in men, affecting one in three by the age of 30. Sometimes, hair thinning can occur as early as the late teens. Male baldness of this type is an inherited condition that causes gradual thinning of the hair. If some sort of hair restoration therapy is not initiated, this condition can lead to complete hair loss on some parts of the scalp.

Male pattern baldness is the result of a genetic sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which attaches to certain hair follicles and causes them to shrink, stunting the hair growth cycle. This means each strand of hair becomes finer and shorter and if the follicles eventually become dormant, hair growth could cease altogether. Hair restoration treatments aim to slow, halt, or even reverse this process.

While there is nothing that can prevent hair loss in those with a genetic predisposition, the hair restoration treatment minoxidil can control the levels of DHT and even reverse its effects. Minoxidil can be used to slow the balding process as soon as it starts to become apparent.


What else causes baldness in men?

Baldness can also be caused by a range of other factors, including:

  • Scalp diseases such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema

  • Traction alopecia caused by tight plaits such as dreadlocks or cornrows

  • Prolonged stress causing chronic telogen effluvium

  • Psychological problems such as trichotillomania, where you habitually, and often unconsciously, pull out your own hair

  • Hair loss can also be caused by a range of systemic body diseases, such as diabetes

If you have any of these conditions it is well worth visiting your GP to investigate and treat the underlying cause before embarking on a course of hair restoration treatment with minoxidil or finasteride. It may be that dealing with the primary problem will reduce your hair loss and normal hair growth will soon re-establish.


What are the early signs of baldness in men?

The Norwood Scale is the most widely recognised measure of the progression of male pattern baldness. The scale runs through 7 different types:

  • Type 1: a normal, full head of hair

  • Type 2: some hair loss at the temples, but relatively unnoticeable

  • Type 3: the hair line starts to recede more obviously at the temples. If you have type 3 vertex, you also have a patch of thinner hair on the top of your head, towards the back. You need to start hair restoration treatment now for the best results.

  • Type 4: a more obvious receding hairline at the temples and a larger patch of thinning hair on top

  • Type 5: the front of the hairline is receding towards the bald patch at the top, but the two are still separated by a band of hair.

  • Type 6: the two patches of baldness have very nearly joined up, separated only by a band of very thin hair

  • Type 7: Most of the hair on the top of the head is gone; hair remains at the back and at the sides

If your hairline is Type 3 on the Norwood Scale it is probable that you will lose more hair. If there’s a family history of male or female pattern baldness, this makes it more likely that you will progress up the scale. However, it’s difficult to say how far or how quickly this will happen so you should consider consulting a specialist if your hair line has progressed to this early stage of pattern baldness. Remember, the sooner you seek hair restoration treatment, the greater the chances of success.


Preventing baldness with hair restoration treatments

Male pattern baldness is by far the most common condition that hair restoration clinics deal with. Depending on the stage of hair loss, various combinations of clinically proven hair restoration treatments, such as minoxidil and finasteride, hair growth booster products, and supplements may be prescribed based specifically on each individual’s requirements.

Most men who have had hair restoration therapy prescribed for them will experience hair loss stabilisation and varying degrees of regrowth in a reasonably short period of time.


Are there any late stage hair restoration treatments for baldness?

If your hair loss has progressed to a Type 6 or 7 on the Norwood Scale, you might not have as many hair restoration options as someone seeking treatment at Type 3 or 4. In the past, hair transplants were only available to candidates with sufficient donor hair at the back and sides of their head, however, modern follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair transplant techniques mean that hair can now be used from other parts of the scalp or other parts of the body.

This is particularly useful in the case of male pattern baldness, because the testosterone that leads to baldness on the head causes enhanced hair growth on other areas of the body such as the chest and legs.


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