Hair loss is a concern that affects a majority of men and women over the course of their lives. As many as 65% of all men, and 80% of women, experience noticeable hair loss by the time they are 60, and these numbers only go up as people get older. While there are many different potential causes of hair loss, more than 95% of cases in both men and women are the result of androgenetic alopecia, a condition commonly known as male and female pattern baldness. Unfortunately, despite the frequency with which this condition occurs, there are still many questions about the precise way in which it functions. For over thirty-five years, The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research has been committed to keeping up with the most up-to-date hair restoration research and keeping our patients informed with all the latest information.
What researchers have determined is that pattern hair loss in both men and women is related to hormones called androgens. Androgens are important for normal male sexual development before birth and during puberty, and help to regulate hair growth and sex drive in both men and women. Pattern baldness sufferers seem to have inherited a genetic sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a by-product of the androgen testosterone. While the entire genetic process of androgenetic alopecia is not completely understood, and we are not entirely sure what combination of genes causes this genetic susceptibility, we do know that DHT shrinks hair follicles, shortening the lifespan of each individual hair follicle and eventually causing the affected follicles to stop producing cosmetically acceptable hair. It is also unclear whether the genes responsible for this sensitivity are linked exclusively to the X-chromosome, as was long believed. So the long persisting myth that you inherit baldness from your mother’s side of the family is largely unfounded.
The hormonal process of testosterone converting to DHT, which then harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women, although it progresses differently in each. Under normal conditions, women have a much lower level of testosterone than men, but even this lower level can cause DHT-triggered hair loss, particularly in those with a genetic susceptibility. Moreover, since hormones operate best when they are in balance, the androgens do not need to be raised to trigger a problem. If the counterpart female hormones are lowered for any reason, such as menopause or birth control use, the resulting imbalance can result in pattern hair loss.
A number of different treatments for pattern hair loss have been developed over the past several years. The drug finasteride (sold under the brand names Proscar® and Propecia®) has been shown to lower the levels of DHT, which has resulted in decreased hair loss and, in some cases, the re-growth of hair especially in men. Additionally, Extra-Strength Rogaine® (5% minoxidil), helps to prevent the shrinkage of hair follicles and hold on to existing hair.
If you have questions about hair loss causes and treatments offered by The Griffin Center, please contact Dr. Griffin and Dr. Curtis to schedule a consultation. We provide a variety of options for financing, including Care Credit®, in order to assist you. Visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more exciting announcements.