In medical science, recognised internationally. There are currently only two treatments approved specifically for hair loss. That said, there are a number of non-surgical hair loss treatments. Available for common hair loss concerns. Much depends on the extent of hair loss. A patient’s post-consultation treatment plan may include non-surgical hair loss treatments. They may compliment surgical hair restoration. Or consist entirely of non-surgical recommendations. That´s if the patient is fortunate enough to have caught the onset of baldness in time.
Non-surgical hair loss treatments are utilised in two ways:
1. To protect and improve the existing hair. Aesthetically improved becoming thicker, fuller hairs.
2. To reduce or eliminate further hair loss, preserving the existing hair.
There are many forms of hair loss treatment available. Such as Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), Caffeine, Green Tea. Protein shakes have become popular and some may be helpful. That said, the exact science behind them is currently not known. As a result the majority of doctor’s experience with these products is anecdotal.
WHAT IS DHT’S ROLE IN BALDNESS
Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss among males. Hormonal factors appear to play a large role. In particular, the male sex hormone called dihydrotestosterone. Or DHT.
Key points about DHT:
- DHT is an androgen. It give men their male characteristics.
- Dihydrotestosterone is thought to cause hair follicles to miniaturise. Hence, contributes to male pattern hair loss.
- By the age of 50 years 50% of the male population will experience hair loss. Mediated by DHT.
- Treatments that block DHT may help prevent hair loss.
HAIR GROWTH AND HAIR LOSS
Male pattern baldness (MPB) is the most common type of hair loss in men. Hair at the temples and the crown slowly thin. Overtime can eventually disappear. depending on genetic traits.
The exact mechanics is not totally known. But genetics and hormonal are considered to be the main causes. DHT being the major factor. As well as environmental factors being thought to play a role. To understand male pattern baldness, we need to understand hair growth.
Hair growth phases: anagen, catagen, and telogen:
Anagen is the growth phase. Hairs remain in this phase for 2 to 6 years. The longer it lasts, the longer the hair grows. Normally, around 80-85% of the hairs on the head are in this phase.
Catagen lasts only 2 weeks. It allows the hair follicle to renew itself.
Telogen is the resting phase. The follicle lies dormant for 1 to 4 months. Normally between 12-20% of hairs are in this phase. After this, anagen begins again. The existing hair is pushed out of the pore by the new growth and naturally sheds.
Male pattern baldness happens when hair follicles slowly miniaturise. Caused by the anagen phase reducing. As a result, the telogen phase becomes longer. As a result of a shortened growth phase the hair cannot grow as long. Eventually the anagen phase becomes so short. The new hairs do not reach the surface of the skin. Telogen hair growth is less well-anchored to the scalp. Making it easier for the hairs to fall out.
As the hair follicles become smaller, the hair shaft becomes thinner. Continuing with each hair growth cycle. Eventually, the hairs are reduced to vellus hairs. The soft, fine hairs. More often associated with an infant. Usually they disappear during puberty in response to androgens. Anabolic steroid drug users such as bodybuilders, are more prone to male pattern baldness.
The hair follicles dying due to DHT attacking the follicles start to miniaturise. Depending on the severity, this can result in affecting thousands of hairs. Often only seen under a specialist microscope. In these circumstances, a hair transplant may not be possible. As there are still too many living hair follicles on the scalp. Meaning there is no space to implant new hairs. Attempting to transplant into this area can be dangerous. As a result hair regrowth may suffer. Over the last 10 years clinical studies have confirmed this. Having scientifically proven the damage to both the transplanted and existing hairs. Consequently the importance to be a good candidate. The Hair Dr sees many patients. Many have purchased hair loss treatments. Almost always directly from the internet, online. Often without a prescription or any suitability test. This can result in no hair growth. Due to the medication being inappropriate.
THE ROLE OF 5-ALPHA-REDUCTASE
5-alpha-reductase (5-AR) is the enzyme that converts testosterone into the much more potent androgen. The DHT or dihydrotestosterone. If 5-AR levels increase, more testosterone will be converted into DHT. Greater hair loss will result. There are two versions of 5-AR, type 1 and 2 enzymes.
Type 1 is predominantly found in sebaceous glands that produce the skin’s natural lubricant, sebum. With, Type 2 mostly sits within the genitourinary tract and hair follicles. Type 2 is considered more important in the process of hair loss.
PROPECIA® OR PROSCAR®
Propecia is a prescription only tablet. Which is given to slow further hair loss in men. This is a DHT inhibitor. Found to slow down male pattern baldness.
DHT contributes to the shortening of the growth phase (anogen), and, lengthening of resting phase (telogen). Essentially encouraging your hair follicles to stop growing altogether.
It is not the testosterone that causes the hair loss but it’s converted form DHT which causes it. For this to happen, an enzyme by the name of 5-Alpha-Reductase is needed which then facilitates this conversion. Propecia blocks this enzyme and hence the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
You can hear all the in and outs of Propecia but the question on many men’s mind is will it work? Is it a miracle drug that will stop my hair from falling out and cover my head in hair? Well, Propecia is very successful but it does not have a 100% success rate.
There have been lots of studies into the success rate of the drug and one study shows that 83% of men taking Propecia did not experience any more hair loss since the start of the prescription. Furthermore, 66% of the men noticed that they had regrowth.