What I wish I’d have known 10 years ago
If I could turn back time
I have recently had a hair transplant, and I can quite easily say it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. However, my hair has been falling out since my early 20’s (current age 31) and I feel that if I’d have known then what I know now, my procedure would not have needed to be so large, and I might not have needed to have a hair transplant at all. So here is my summary of why most people lose their hair, and what can be done to slow it down, or even stop it completely.
Many men suffer from the condition known as male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia. Some women also suffer from the same condition, although this is much less common (in the USA around 30 million women have the condition compared to 50 million men). It is thought that the most significant factor behind male pattern baldness are sex hormones in the body. However, what are these sex hormones, why do they cause hair loss and how can we stop this from happening?
What is Dihydrotestosterone? (DHT)
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is derived from testosterone, a hormone present in both men and women. DHT and testosterone are androgens which contribute to producing ‘male sex characteristics’ when an individual goes through puberty. Male sex characteristics may include a deepening of the voice, body and facial hair, increased muscle mass and a change in how fat is stored around the body. As you age, testosterone and DHT have many benefits to your body, such as maintaining muscle mass and promoting sexual health, however they can also make your hair fall out faster and earlier than you would like.
Why does DHT cause hair loss?
Typically, men have more testosterone flowing through their bodies and in adults around 10 percent of this is converted to DHT. Once freely flowing through the bloodstream, DHT can reach receptors in the hair follicles on your scalp, causing them to shrink and become less capable of holding a full and healthy head of hair. The hair within a follicle typically goes through a growth cycle that lasts between two to six years. At the end of its cycle, the hair enters what is called the resting phase before finally falling out. The follicle then produces new hair, and the cycle begins again. As DHT can shrink your hair follicles as well as shorten the cycle, your new hair will grow out looking thinner and more brittle, or it may not even come back at all. Some lucky people are less vulnerable to DHT than others, but it is the main cause of hair loss in many and unless it is stopped in its tracks, it will make your hair fall out.
How can we block DHT?
Much research has been done in order to try and figure out how male pattern baldness can be treated or prevented. The most successful treatments are medications or topical solutions that prevent DHT from binding to the hair follicles. The research suggests that if used properly, these treatments can seriously slow down the effect that DHT and promote a healthier head of hair.
Probably the most popular treatment on the market is finasteride, a medication that I started taking just days after I had my hair transplant. Finasteride binds to 5-AR proteins to block DHT from binding with them. This helps to stop DHT from binding with your hair follicles which in turn keeps them from shrinking. The result is a set of healthier hair follicles that are more likely to sustain a good head of hair. Simple right? Not really. Deciding to take finasteride is a big decision, as for a small amount of men it can come with some quite scary side effects. Most notably, a decreased libido, trouble getting an erection and depression are just some side effects that may come through using the drug. Therefore, although only the minority of men do suffer from these side effects, you may need to consider if finasteride is right for you before you decided to take the drug.
Alternative treatments to finasteride that help to prevent hair loss can come in a topical form (these are typically applied directly to the scalp, sometimes as well as derma rolling). The best known topical solution comes in the form of Minoxidil, typically used as a blood pressure medication, but when applied directly to your scalp loosens blood vessels and promotes hair growth. However, although minoxidil is supposed to be effective, since my hair transplant I have been using a different topical solution called HRP (Hair Recovery Programme by Pharma Hermetic). The formula focuses on stimulating hair growth using brand new research to strengthen the existing hair at the root. The active ingredients promote the self generation of hair cells and provide all the necessary nutrients to repair weakened and brittle hair, making your hair healthier, stronger and more voluptuous. I feel like the use of this solution, as well as derma rolling, has helped my existing hair to get stronger and thicker, as well as helping my transplanted hair to grow.
Other research also suggests that your nutritional intake can help to counteract DHT and hair loss. High protein, Biotin, Pygeum bark, Pumpkin seed oil, caffeine, vitamin B-12 and B-6 all claim to help for different reasons. You should always look after your diet, after all you are what you eat, and the better stuff you put in your body, the healthier your hair will be.
Should I have done something sooner?
Should I have done something sooner? Yes – 100%! I was scared of the side effects as a result of using finasteride and also worried about the cost of topical solutions. However, maybe if I’d have tried these treatments sooner I wouldn’t have needed to shell out for a hair transplant (or at least I wouldn’t have needed one quite as large). Finasteride is a difficult one to talk about, as the side effects are serious and real for many men, however I decided to give it a go knowing that if the side effects started to show, I could always stop. I had the hair transplant and thought I needed to invest in what I’d paid for, I mean what’s the point in having a hair transplant if your remaining hair is going to fall out anyway? Luckily, I have had no side effects, which makes me regret not trying the medication earlier on in life. It must be pointed out though that you need to make your own decision when it comes to finasteride, and that you consult your doctor. The HRP is a no brainer. It is a natural solution with no known side effects and it clearly seems to work.
Want to find out more?
Don’t be like me. If you notice that your hair is starting to get thinner, do something about it! Learn more about hair loss prevention treatments by clicking here. Don’t let the DHT win, if you catch your hair loss early enough you may be able to prevent it from happening and you won’t need to think about the choice of having a hair transplant or going bald, like I did.