Im often asked what are some methods for hair restoration of thinning hair? What foods to eat, products or medications to use to improve hair health?
As I always say, I can count on one hand the things that are proven to restore hair.
Things that cause hair loss on the other hand, I could list one hundred and then we would both just get bored. I would not be finished counting however!
Of course though, there is hope. Here is my summary to this oft repeated question about hair restoration:
Begin with the end in mind
A healthy diet, exercise and meditative activities are key to hair health. In fact, high stress releases cortisol, the body’s own steroid, which certainly can cause hair loss.
Hair itself is dead. Hair then grows and becomes healthy ‘from the inside out’. This makes nutrition and a balanced diet another key. Hair is dead but it should not be allowed to become brittle, tangled, or knotted. A healthy diet can also help avoid these problems.
How you treat your hair also matters. While we lose about 100 hairs a day normally, tightly braided hair and other styles such as extensions can cause hair loss (traction alopecia). As well as chemicals used on the hair (hot comb alopecia) can cause one of the worst forms of hair loss because it is nearly untreatable.
Non surgical treatments
For hair products, there is topical minoxidil (Rogaine) over the counter, which still should be reviewed with your own M. D. After all, it is a blood pressure drug, that we discovered just happened to cause hair growth. There are medicated shampoos with a slight effect on hair growth for reasons that are unknown. Its not related to fungal infection, which is a rare cause of hair loss.
There is ‘hormone manipulation’ using prescription medication by your M. D. These drugs block the conversion of testosterone to DHT, or ‘super testosterone’ as I call it. While blocking DHT’s signal telling hair follicles to stop growing seems great, hormone manipulation has unknown long term effects. Hormone imbalance can also cause hair loss. Checking for this is the job of your physician in the early stages of a hair restoration and hair loss treatment.
PRP and Regenerative Medicine
‘PRP’ or platelet rich plasma for hair loss captivates the public in the past few years. Plasma has growth factors we can concentrate and then inject into the scalp. Research shows PRP grows hair for a majority of patients in some studies. Some growth however, is the kind doctors measure, rather than the kind that impresses you in the mirror. In research studies on PRP, even needles without PRP (placebo needles) grew a few hairs. This is probably due to growth factors going to these tiny wounds to heal them I suspect, and stimulating local hair follicles incidentally. Still pretty amazing, regardless of the ambiguity of some of these results.
Healing with steel- hair transplant surgery
Last of course, is easily the most effective method of hair restoration, hair transplantation surgery. Hair surgery is effective for nearly all forms of non-scarring hair loss. It can not stop ongoing hair loss however. Many men find after several years and a few surgeries, probably all the hair on top of their head has been transplanted. There are no ‘native’ hairs left. Here is a bit more detail: VIDEO: hair restoration in las vegas
The key is that surgery should be combined with some of these other methods. It does not replace them. Something very important but hard to truly understand, is that there are only so many donor hairs at the back of the head that can be used. Once you reach a critical point, further hair loss requires body hair, which is not as good as scalp hair and can be difficult to harvest. Here are some recent results: Gallery
The other thing about hair transplantation that is difficult to appreciate, is how many hairs it really takes to create the illusion of natural fullness. People do not seem to believe my estimate, that the area of a single postage stamp could have several hundred hair follicles for some women. Luckily we dont have to reach this density with surgery to give the illusion of full coverage. Good density can take more than one procedure however. This makes the importance of medical stabilization above even more clear, in addition to surgical hair transplantation.
Its just hair
For people that have no other options or are not good candidates for the above, there are two things left off of most lists. The first is a hair piece or wig. Sometimes that is the only viable solution unfortunately. The reality is that the density of a good hair piece is very difficult to achieve with actual hair. Finally, both men and women often find that shaving their head is a good look, and something they can accept. In fact, shaving their head for hair transplant is often the first glimpse of this shaved look. They revisit a shaved head after they later exhaust other options. Many accept it, some even see a shaved head flatters their appearance. Remember, its just hair.
Make it so
The actor who plays the bald Jean Luc Picard on Star Trek was once asked on a talk show why in this distant future, they had not yet found a cure for baldness. Patrick Stewart replied, ‘well in the future people dont care anymore.’ We might not be that evolved yet as a species, but we would all do good to remember that it is what is in your head that counts, not what is on it.