Hair loss – why does it happen and best ways to stop it?

Losing your age at any age can be a worry, but even more so when it’s premature or severe.

We all develop some degree of hair loss as we age but obviously, this is far more pronounced in men.

A third will be experiencing hair loss by the time they are 30, 40% by 40 and around half by 50 and 80% by the age of 70.

Hair loss eats into your self-esteem and studies have shown that it can also impact your relationship and even career prospects

(there is evidence to show that bald men earn less than men with hair).

Here Crown Clinic’s consultant surgeon Asim Shahmalak explains why men and women lose their hair (10% of Crown Clinic’s patients are women) and how

this hair loss can be treated by a hair transplant – either a FUE (follicular unit extraction) procedure or the more traditional method, FUT (follicular unit transplantation).

What is your hair made of?

Hairs are tiny shafts of a protein called keratin. They are anchored in a group of specialised cells called hair follicles, which supply oxygen and nutrients to the root (or bulb) of the hair and lubricate the hair with an oily substance called sebum. The human body is completely covered with hair follicles, except on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and the lips. Mostly, hair follicles are tiny, and the hairs they produce don’t grow long enough to protrude from the pore.

The areas where hairs do protrude (and are visible above the skin) include the armpits, face, around the genitals, the front of the chest, the back, and most profusely, on the scalp of the head. A scalp typically contains about 100,000 hair follicles.

Hair is in a constant cycle of growth, rest, and renewal. Hairs grow and then are shed, but because they grow at different rates they don’t all shed at once.

How does hair loss start in men?

It tends to start at the sides of the scalp (above the temples) and on the crown and spreads from there. As the hairline recedes backwards, the patch gets larger.

This is known as male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia.

Hair loss in women?

Yes, women get it too but it is less common than in men. It is often not permanent and grows back after periods of hormonal change (pregnancy, menopause).

The pattern of permanent hair loss in women tends to be different than in men. Women tend to thin right across the top of the scalp rather than in patches. This can be even more distressing because the hair loss is over a greater area.

What are the causes?

This is the one case where you really CAN blame the parents: genetics is far by the biggest cause of hair loss. It’s a myth to say that the mother’s side of the family is more influential – both sides can pass it on. This natural hair loss can be made worse by other factors – medication, over-styling, poor diet and other factors.

How to cover up bald patches?

The only permanent way to combat hair loss with natural hair is to have a hair transplant. This transplanted hair is permanent and should last for the rest of your life. Everyone has a permanent  ‘horseshoe’ on the back and sides of the scalp where donor hair can be harvested by FUE or FUT and replanted in the balding areas. Techniques have improved markedly over the last 20 years and patients using a skilled surgeon such as Dr Shahmalak can expect wonderfully blended new hair to cover up their bald spots. It takes between six months to a year for the transplanted hair to grow back.