Reasons For Hair Loss
Most hair loss is related to genetically sensitive hair follicles, which shrink in response to the hormone dihydrotestosterone. This is a natural metabolite of the male sex hormones that circulate in the bodies of both men (who have a higher concentration) and women. This condition, termed androgenetic alopecia, is thought to be the cause of 95% of hair loss in both sexes. Sensitive hairs become progressively thinner in response to the circulating hormones. As the hairs thin, more and more scalp shows through, giving a thinning hair appearance. Eventually the hairs no longer re-grow, and bald skin is exposed. This results in “male pattern baldness” with progressive loss of the frontal hairline in men and the development of a bald area on the vertex of the scalp.
One’s genetic code determines how sensitive the hairs in the frontal scalp are to androgenetic alopecia. Hairs at the back of the head are protected from these effects, and are useful in transplanting to the balding areas. These resistant posterior hairs exercise what is called “donor dominance” and do not become bald after repositioning to the frontal hairline. In rare cases, other causes can be found for hair loss. These include autoimmune diseases, glandular problems, and exposure to certain drugs. In addition, trauma (including previous surgical scars or facelift hair loss), burns, radiation therapy, and stress can all cause hair loss.
Normal Hair Cycle
All hairs go through three phases of a hair growth cycle. First, anagen is the healthy growing phase lasting 2 to 5 years. During this time hair usually grows at a half-inch per month. This phase is followed by catagen, hair’s resting phase, which is completed with hair shedding. Finally, in telogen, the hair follicle is storing energy and preparing for the next anagen phase. Roughly 90% of the 100,000 hairs on an average person’s head are growing at any time, which translates into an approximate 100 feet of hair being grown on the average person’s head per day!
Hair transplantation has been performed for 40 years and takes advantage of the donor dominance of hair from the back of the head being resistant to androgenetic alopecia as compared to frontal hair. The hairs from the back of the head are removed surgically with their root systems intact and are transplanted to the frontal balding scalp. The hairs themselves often undergo a shock from the procedure and fall out, but the root remains viable and soon produces new thick hair that grows for decades. In fact, the hair grows for the same duration after transplantation to the balding scalp as it would have if not transplanted.
Originally hair was transplanted as plugs varying in size from ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, each containing 10 to 20 hairs. This lead to the un-natural cornrow appearance common in older style transplants. In the 1980’s, a trend toward smaller grafts of one to five hairs, called micro- and minigrafts began and immediately showed more natural appearing results. Finally, in the 1990’s, surgeons noted that hairs tend to grow in small clumps called follicular units. Techniques to transplant distinct follicular units give an extremely natural result. Dr. Lindsey uses both strip and follicular unit extraction (FUE) to create a natural random, rather than linear, hairline. Hairs are angled with respect to natural growth patterns, allowing a natural appearing part and wave to be seen in the new hairline.
The Hair Transplant Procedure
Dr. Lindsey performs hair transplant procedures in the office with local anesthesia and an oral relaxant such as Valium. Please visit our Hair restoration website for more information.