Hair Transplantation


What is male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia)?

Hair loss resulting in thinning is known as alopecia. When it is related to hormones (androgens) and genetics, it is known as androgenetic alopecia, or more commonly, male pattern alopecia. Male pattern alopecia is characterized by a receding hairline and/or hair loss on the top of the head. A similar type of hair loss in women, female pattern alopecia, results in thinning hair on the vertex (top) of the scalp but is generally less severe than how it occurs in males.

What causes male pattern hair loss?

Male pattern hair loss is an inherited condition, caused by a genetically determined sensitivity to the effects of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT is believed to shorten the growth, or anagen, phase of the hair cycle, causing miniaturization of the follicles, and producing progressively finer hairs. The production of DHT is regulated by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.

What role does heredity/genetics play in the male pattern hair loss?

Male pattern hair loss occurs in men who are genetically predisposed to be more sensitive to the effects of DHT. Researchers now believe that the condition can be inherited from either side of the family.

How common is male pattern hair loss?

Male pattern hair loss affects approximately 50% of men at some point in their lives. It affects different populations at different rates, probably because of genetics. Up to half of male Caucasians will experience some degree of hair loss by age 50, while other population groups such as Japanese and Chinese men are far less affected.

What is female pattern baldness?

Female Pattern Baldness (FPB) or Androgenetic Alopecia is a genetic condition that results in permanent hairloss. FPB is a result of hormonal activity. Testosterone in the scalp breaks down, creating Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes the hair follicle to weaken and ultimately perish. The conversion from testosterone to DHT is driven by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which is produced in the prostate, various adrenal glands, and in the scalp. Over time, the action of DHT causes the hair follicle to degrade and shortens the anagen phase.

Though the follicle is technically still alive and connected to a good blood supply--it can successfully nurture a transplanted follicle which is immune to the effects of DHT--it will grow smaller and smaller. Some follicles will gradually die, but most will simply shrink to the size they were when you were born which produce weaker hairs. With a steady shorter growing cycle, more hairs are shed, the hair is becoming thinner and thinner until they are too fine to survive daily wear and tear. Balding hair gradually changes from long, thick, coarse, pigmented hair into fine sprouts.

Female pattern baldness usually begins about age 30, becomes noticeable around age 40, and may be even more noticeable after menopause. Female hair loss is usually an overall thinning -- two hairs where five used to be--rather than a bald area on top of the head, although women may have a receding hairline, too. It's estimated that about 20 million American women experience such hair loss. Hair loss in both men and women is again, partly genetic and partly hormonal.

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