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Treating your hair loss

Some men experience frequent hair loss due to ageing or by genes. So, what can you do? What are the various types of treatments that are available?
Androgenic alopecia or male pattern hair loss is a very common form of hair loss which can affect up to 50 percent of men by age 50. It is usually inherited (meaning that your father or mother is likely to have it as well). It can start as early as after puberty in some cases. Dr Julian Ng, a doctor of DTAP Clinic (Dr Tan & Partners), shares more on this:

 

What are the causes and what happens?

In most cases, it is due to genes you inherited from either your father or mother or both. Typically, if you are affected by the condition, the hair follicles start to shrink with time under the influence of male hormones.

As the condition progress, the hair thickness also starts to become thinner and over time, the hair is lost. In most cases, it starts with the recession of the hairline around the temples and also around the forehead area. Then hair around the top of the head (the crown) also becomes less. In time, the areas of baldness will join together. However, hair at the back of the head is usually not affected in this condition.

 

Is male pattern hair loss only a cosmetic concern?

No. There are studies that shows a link between those affected by the condition to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease (i.e. hypertension, heart attacks, strokes).

Also, it is associated with benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH) which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate which can cause increased frequency to pass urine, waking up multiple times at night to pass urine and as a result affect the quality of your sleep as well.

In addition, it has been found in studies that men who use anabolic steroids are also associated with increased risk of the condition. Similarly, persons on testosterone replacement therapy for hypogonadism are at increased risk of the condition as well. Some studies also found that increased levels of DHEA (another sex hormone) or low levels of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) which in turn means that there is more free testosterone that your body can use, are also associated with the condition as well.

There are also studies to show that there is a link between the condition and prostate cancer. A large Australian study suggests that loss of hair at the top of the head at age 40 may be an early marker of prostate cancer.

 

What are the available treatments?

1) MEDICAL TREATMENT

a) Topical solution Minoxidil – works by slowing the shrinkage of the hair follicles

Advantages:

  • Simple to use.
  • Apply on hair daily up to twice a day.

Disadvantages:

  • Takes up to six months to notice an effect.
  • Need to use it on a permanent basis as hair loss resumes after stopping.

b) Oral Finasteride – works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT which causes shrinkage of the hair follicles.

Advantage:

  • Unlike Minoxidil which only slows the shrinkage of hair follicles, it has been suggested that Finasteride is able to reverse the shrinkage of hair follicles.

Disadvantages:

  • In about one to two percent of men who takes Finasteride, they reported a decrease in sex drive or erectile dysfunction.
  • Decrease in Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) levels which may cause an underestimation of risk of prostate cancer.
  • Takes up to six months to notice effects.
  • Need to use it on permanent basis as hair loss resumes after stopping.

2) HAIR TRANSPLANT – strips of hair from the back of your head is removed and then individually transplanted to the area of the hair loss.

Advantage:

  • Can notice effect around three months.

Disadvantages:

  • Downtime (recovery time after hair transplant).
  • Can take up to few hours for the procedure depending on the area that needs to be transplanted.
  • Expensive (S$10,000 to S$150,000)
  • Failure of the hair grafts may occur.

3) REGENERA ACTIVA – similar to hair transplant. Hair from the back of the head is removed and then using a specialised machine, hair follicular units are harvested and then injected into the area of the hair loss.

Advantages:

  • Much smaller area of hair (3 x 2.5 to 3.5mm) needed to be removed from the back of the head compared to hair transplant.
  • Can notice effect around three months.
  • Faster than hair transplant procedure (generally takes about 30 minutes).
  • No downtime.
  • Cheaper than hair transplant (S$3,000 to S$4,000).
  • Can last for 18 months to 24 months depending on individuals.

If you think you may have male pattern hair loss, speak to your doctor to discuss further on what works best for you.

 

(** PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash/hazy momo)

 


 

 

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