CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS
Losing more than 100 hairs each day over a prolonged period of time defines “hair loss” and known as “alopecia”. The causes of hair loss and the therapies that can be used to correct it depend on the type of hair loss from which the patient is suffering. What types of hair loss are present? What are the causes behind them? And how can they ideally be treated for each, individual patient?
In the following video, Thomas talks openly about his hair loss and how he finally decided to treat it:
Androgenetic Hair Loss
In men, male pattern baldness, or “androgenetic alopecia”, is the most common type of hair loss. Because hereditary hair loss occurs more often in men, it has earned the nickname "male pattern baldness", though women are affected as well: one out of every two men and almost one out of every five women in Austria suffer from it. In one person, the hair loss might begin with the formation of a receding hairline; with another person, the hair loss may been seen as an all-over lightening of the remaining hair. Studies show that up to 70% of men worldwide suffer from this form of hair loss, and often the first signs of this type of hair loss are already apparent at a young age.
Reasons for Hair Loss
The causes of this form of hair loss is an increased sensitivity to the DHT Hormone. The result is that no new hair cells are produced. DHT, or “dehydrotestosterone”, reduces the hair follicles, which produce limited hair or completely fail to produce new hair to replace the hair once it falls out.
Unfortunately, there is no preventive measure against androgenetic alopecia. The widespread belief that proper hair care has an effect on this type of hair loss is also wrong because this form of hair loss is purely genetic. Even cosmetic hair restoration cannot stimulate hair growth again. Why? Because a dead hair follicle simply cannot be brought back to life to produce hair again. For this reason, the male pattern of hair loss is usually treated with hair transplants, particularly if the person experiencing this type of hair loss is suffering emotionally. The smallest tissue units, called “grafts”, are taken from areas of the head with the most dense hair coverage and transplanted onto the thinning areas. After a relatively short recovery time, hair grows in those areas again—usually for a lifetime!
Circular Hair Loss
In men, circular hair loss, or “alopecia areata”, is the second most common cause of hair loss—and women are more affected than men. The age peak for this type of hair loss is usually between the 20ies and 40ies, and hair loss usually starts suddenly. It typically forms with individual round and hairless patches that are mainly visible on the head, but which can also affect facial or body hair. In these oval or round areas, the natural hair growth stops completely and the existing hair gradually falls out until finally a bare spot can be seen. Changes in the fingernails may also be observed in some individuals. The overall aesthetic image is significantly disturbed for those affected, which can greatly influence self-esteem. It can be especially acute for young men and children who suffer from circular hair loss.
The causes of alopecia areata are not 100% clear. In contrast to androgenetic or diffuse hair loss, alopecia areata is an inflammatory disease in which the hair follicles are preserved but the fiber formation is suppressed. Circular hair loss can have the following causes:
- Stress: Severe mental stress, such as overburdened work or family circumstances, can lead to circular hair loss. Often the sufferers are not aware of this emotional stress.
- Medication: Some medications also cause circular hair loss. Possible side effects should therefore be observed and documented before and during ingestion of the medication.
- Nutrition: A deficiency in nutrients or hyperacidity in the body can also cause circular hair loss. In particular, inadequate levels of iron and vitamins A and C can have a direct influence on hair growth.
- Autoimmune disease: The body's immune cells are also believed to have an affect on circular hair loss. In this case, these defense cells are not directed as they should be against viruses, bacteria, and fungi, but instead against the cells in the hair roots.
Circular hair loss does not necessarily have to be treated. The hair may be able to grow back on its own when the underlying causes have been identified and corrected. Currently, there are no known causal treatments for circular hair loss. Only symptomatic therapies can help, such as applying zinc creams or taking nutritional supplements. Hair transplants are unfortunately not affective for circular hair loss, but "mesotherapy" may be able to achieve satisfactory results. With mesotherapy, revitalization ingredients are tailored to the individual patient and injected directly into the hair root using a very fine needle.
Diffuse hair loss
Diffuse hair loss is when the hair falls out over the entire head. The line between natural and excessive hair loss can be difficult to detect at first, but gradually the symptoms become obvious. With diffuse hair loss, the hair looks lighter, lacks volume, and the scalp becomes visible through the thinning hair. Diffuse hair loss can affect specific areas of the head, such as with a receding hairline, but also the entire area of the head. Diffuse hair loss affects women more often than men.
Various factors can cause diffuse hair loss. If the causes are correctly diagnosed and treated, then the patient may see renewed hair growth. Unfortunately, diffuse hair loss is often associated with permanent hair loss. Below is information about the individual causes of diffuse hair loss:
- Stress: Stress in one’s professional and private life means that the hair roots are no longer supplied with sufficient nutrients. Here, the hair falls out prematurely.
- Hormone fluctuations: Diffuse hair loss from severe hormone fluctuations is especially common for women, such as after a pregnancy or menopause. The contraceptive pill can also have a direct effect on the natural hair growth of a woman.
- Nutrition: If the body processes too few or too much of a nutrient, then the hair roots are not adequately supplied with the nutrients they need to grow. Strict diets, prolonged fasting diets, or one-sided malnutrition can lead to a lack of the vitamins and minerals that are necessary for natural hair growth.
- Medications: There are more than 500 medications known to have an ability to disrupt hair growth. If excessive hair loss has occurred since starting to take a new medication, then that medication may be causally linked to the hair loss.
In most cases, a patient can achieve sufficient treatment by addressing the direct and underlying causes of diffuse hair loss—such as minimizing stress or modifying one’s diet. However, excessive hair loss can continue to occur despite using drug therapy. In these cases, we offer two ways to get a patient’s diffuse hair loss under control.
Mesotherapy is one option that can achieve very good results for diffuse hair loss. With mesotherapy, revitalization agents are specially tailored for the individual patient and gently injected into the scalp with a tiny cannula. The revitalization agents are intended to stop the diffuse hair loss and to stimulate new hair growth. For other patients who suffer from diffuse hair loss, a hair transplant may also help. Gentle methods are used to transplant hair and increase hair density. Since the hair roots are taken from the area of the head with the most densely grown hair, or the “hair ring”, they grow at the transplantation site for a lifetime!
The Hamilton-Norwood Scale
Medical studies—and our years of experience—have demonstrated that effective treatment for hair loss is only possible once the exact underlying cause or causes of the hair loss have been determined. In hereditary hair loss, the Hamilton-Norwood Scale is an important tool for planning and performing a patient’s hair transplantation. The Hamilton-Norwood Scale divides men's androgenetic hair loss into seven stages (I to VII):
|I||Hair loss does not go, or barely goes back to, the hairline.|
|II||Frontal hair loss is seen in the form of a receding hairline. However, the hair loss does not deviate more than two centimeters from the natural hairline.|
|III||The receding hairline reaches to the back of the head, and is thus far beyond the natural hairline.|
|IV||Hairs fall out in the apex area, and a distinct hair band separates bare and lightly overgrown areas.|
|V||Zones of pronounced hair loss are present frontally and on the vertex, and are separated only by a narrow zone of hair. At the temples and at the back of the head, a so-called "horseshoe" shape is formed.|
|VI||Areas of hair loss in the forehead and vertex region have mergedm and lateral hair loss progresses.|
|VII||Only a small part of the natural hair growth remains, from the ears to the back of the head.|
The Hamilton-Norwood Scale—in practice
Each patient has their own idea of what satisfactory hair transplantation results will look like to them: some patients would like denser, more voluminous hair on their head, while other patients would like just a little more hair abundance. The Hamilton-Norwood Scale gives the patient and our hair regrowth specialists approximate guidelines on how many grafts should be used for their hair transplantation.
|Stage||Recommendation for hair transplants|
|I-III||In these early stages of hair loss, 1,000 to 1,500 hair grafts are implanted, which corresponds to about 2,000 to 3,000 re-growing hairs. Even fewer hair grafts can be used in a scar hair transplant.|
|IV||During these middle stages of hair loss, about 2,000 to 2,200 grafts are needed to achieve optimal hair density.|
|V-VII||In these more advanced stages of hereditary hair loss, the recommendation is 5,000 grafts. Please note that it may be necessary to divide these grafts into two hair transplants because a procedure is usually limited to 2,500 to 2,800 grafts.|
Arrange an appointment for your free initial consultation!
Please note that the numbers above are just a rough guide for recommended grafts. Other factors can influence the outcome of hair transplantation—such as hair density, hair thickness, and hair color. For these reasons, we offer a non-binding, free initial consultation to create your personal, individually-tailored treatment plan. Contact us to arrange for your appointment today!