Common questions about what causes hair loss.
Genetic pre-disposition plays a major role in hair loss. Most commonly, men and women alike inherit the propensity to lose their hair from either or both of their parents.
Unlike the way many of us experience hair loss in nightmares, one’s hair generally does not come out all at once or in thick clumps. Rather, it tends to occur progressively over time. The age of onset and the rate of hair loss vary due to a number of factors – again, the predominant of these factors is genetic.
Doctors and scientists are still in the early stages of researching and finding a “cure” for the unique events that determine the metabolism and programming of our hairs – from our scalps to our eyebrows and eyelashes. A better understanding of these and other physiological and pharmacological factors may allow us to provide more effective medical therapies in the future. Though some local circulatory and hormonal conditions show signs of a connection with hair loss, more research is necessary if we are to understand this unfortunate phenomenon in its entirety.
While it is true that hair loss cannot yet be prevented, certain conditions have been found to aggravate or even initiate the process. These include malnourishment, use of chemicals, hair braiding, and severe illnesses, to name a few. The good news is that we can dispel some of the negative myths about hair loss right away: wearing hats or caps, excessive shampooing, clogged pores have no effect on the process.
Facts about hair loss:
1. Hair loss is not clinically apparent until 50% of hair is already lost.
2. Hair loss affects roughly 35 million men and 21 million women in the United States alone. Around 40% of men will have noticeable hair loss by the age of 35. Hair loss affects nearly 40% of women over 40.
3. Baldness is the most common complaint among men, followed by diffuse hair loss. The inverse is true for women, most of whom register their primary grievances with the experience of diffuse hair loss.
4. Preventative medical treatment (either Rogaine or Propecia are popular options) can prove effective when properly implemented. These treatments must be implemented in an ongoing fashion; an interruption in the treatment will likely result in a noticable step back.
5. Hair loss is associated with hormonal causes, or androgenetic alopecia, in more the 90% of cases. The hormone most associated with hair loss is dihydrotestosterone (DHT, for short).
What is a hair transplant?
A hair transplant is an outpatient procedure that involves transplanting the hair follicles from one part of the body – the donor site – to the balding part of the body – the recipient site. Although hair transplantations are typically used to treat alopecia, they can also be used to fill in scars caused by accidents or surgery.
Does hair transplantation work for everyone?
Yes! Innumerable satisfied patients will testify to the efficacy of the procedure. In each case, hair is removed from the donor area and transplanted to the balding area. This hair will grow indefinitely, as if it were programmed to grow in the recipient site all along.
What are the risks of a hair transplant?
The most common risks associated with a hair transplant are bleeding, infection, and scarring. Some people may experience mild nausea and vomiting after the procedure. This is due to the local anesthetic and other medications used to make the patient more comfortable during the procedure. If you have any questions about the risks or possible side effects of hair transplantation, Dr. Sztulman will gladly address them in a pre-transplant consultation.
Is a hair transplant painful?
Those with low thresholds for pain can rejoice, as the vast majority of transplant patients experience only very mild levels of discomfort. This discomfort is most often related to the initial fine needle prick of the local anesthetic, which is continually applied to the scalp throughout the procedure. Any tightness or numbness that remains after the operation can usually be treated with just a few doses of Tylenol or Ibuprofen, while any itchiness on the scalp can be tempered with anti-histaminics.
What makes a successful hair transplant candidate?
Successful candidates for hair transplantation tend to be individuals with sufficient hair in donor areas such as the fringe of the scalp, as this hair will be transplanted to the balding areas. This is not always the case, however. Thanks to modern advances in the science of hair transplantation, many bald patients who were not suitable candidates in the past can now undergo successful surgery.
Am I a good candidate for hair transplant?
This depends on several factors. These include – but are certainly not limited to –your current age, your age at the onset of hair loss, the amount of hair present in the donor area, and your response to previous medical treatments. When evaluating potential candidates, we must also consider the potential for further hair loss in the future and evaluate this potential against the benefits of surgery.
Please keep in mind that hair transplantation is not a cure for hair loss, which is a condition that is likely to continue and progress with age. As there is a limited supply of donor hair, planning for the future is essential to ensure an excellent outcome.
What can I expect from the procedure?
The procedure typically lasts 3-8 hours, depending on the case and the extensiveness of the transplant. You will receive a local anesthetic in both the donor and recipient areas. The amount of discomfort during the procedure is minimal – in fact, many patients even rate the small pinch of dental block higher on the pain index.
You will be fully awake during the procedure and can pass your time watching TV, listening to the radio, or engaging in light conversation. Of course, you are also welcome to take a relaxing nap and get up to eat or go to the bathroom, if needed. You will have a dressing in the surgical area to keep it protected, and the doctor will walk you through all post-operative instructions. Please arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home, as you will b given medications that, while safe, may impair your ability to drive. As a matter of course – and because we value your company so much – we generally arrange for a brief check-up after a couple of days spent healing.
What is the downtime after a hair transplant procedure?
You should not drive or operate machinery for 24 hours after the procedure. As a general rule, one should also avoid exercising or engaging in strenuous activities for 5 days. FUE patients may go back to work in 1-3 days, while FUT patients should wait 2-6 days. Please note that these are only general guidelines. Every person heals at a different pace, and some occupations demand more physical activity than others. After the first 1-2 postoperative days, most patients find that they no longer require pain medications.
How many surgeries will I need?
The number of the sessions will depend on several factors, including:
1. The area of the scalp treated
2. The number and size of grafts used
3. The patient’s desired density of hair
4. The hair’s physical characteristics, e.g. coarse hair will provide a denser, more full-bodied look than fine hair
In summary, the number of sessions varies between individuals. We can arrive at an estimate during your in-person consultation.
Can I wear a hat or a hairpiece after the procedure?
If you simply must wear your favorite bowler or baseball cap, far be it from us to stop you. You can wear a hat or headpiece shortly after the procedure, but please do so carefully and make sure that there is no tightness or pressure in the front. You will leave the office with a loose surgical hat. After the third day, you may wear a hairpiece.
Why is hair transplant costly?
Hair transplantation is a true team effort nowadays, and each procedure involves several individuals working together with sophisticated microscopic and surgical equipment. It is a time-intensive procedure that demands careful transoperative planning. The cost per surgery fluctuates between $3,000.00 and $10,000.00, with some estimates exceeding that range. Please keep in mind that some patients may need more than one procedure. We do offer financing, including zero-interest plans. Though we strive to maintain affordable pricing options, many of our patients will agree – no price is too high for a full head of hair!