The Progression of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss

male-hair-loss-progressionAt The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, we know that hair loss can be a complicated issue, stemming from numerous potential causes, and we believe that it is important for every patient to undergo a careful diagnostic process before any effective treatment plan can be formulated.  However, in a vast majority of cases, the hair loss that occurs in both men and women can most often be attributed to a condition known as androgenetic alopecia, or genetic pattern baldness.  This condition occurs when hair follicles have a genetically-inherited sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, a by-product of the androgen testosterone which is an important hormone present in both men and women.  When hair follicles inherit this sensitivity from either parent, any increase in the relative concentration of DHT causes them to gradually shrink, producing thinner and thinner hairs until they stop producing hair altogether.  Androgenetic alopecia is specifically referred to as pattern baldness because it does not affect all follicles equally.  Rather, the sensitivity seems to only affect the follicles in highly specific areas, and progress in a predictable pattern.  This is the reason that hair transplant procedures, which move follicles from areas that are not affected by androgenetic alopecia into areas that are, work.  It is also the reason why male and female versions of the same condition can present so differently.

In most cases, male pattern hair loss begins with a deep and symmetrical thinning at the temples and a slight recession of the frontal hairline, with potentially additional thinning at the crown as well.  From there, the pattern usually progresses until only a bridge of moderately dense hair separates the bare regions at the front and crown.  Eventually the bridge of hair grows thinner and thinner, until the remaining hair forms a horseshoe shape around the baldness concentrated in the center of the scalp.  In advanced cases, only a wreath of thin hair remains on the back and the sides of the scalp.

womens-hair-loss-progressionIn women, however, androgenetic alopecia progresses very differently.  Only in rare cases will a woman experience thinning of the frontal hair line.  Instead, hair loss tends to be far more diffuse, affecting the top of the scalp and crown area.  Women will often first notice that their central part is starting to widen as hair thins across the crown.  In the most advanced cases, women’s pattern hair loss may eventually leave almost no hair remaining on the crown or top of the head, and only a narrow ring of active hair follicles around the edges.  This wider and more diffuse hair loss pattern can make it difficult to locate a suitable donor site from which healthy follicles can be extracted for transplant, and so we sometimes find that women benefit more from non-surgical hair loss treatments like our prescription formulated compounds, red light laser treatment, or platelet rich plasma therapy.  Identifying optimal female candidates for hair transplantation surgery requires an expert who specializes in diagnosing and treating women’s hair loss.

Men’s hair loss and women’s hair loss are very different and not every case of pattern hair loss always progresses in exactly the same pattern.  Only by carefully evaluating each patient as an individual can we begin to understand their case and formulate the most effective customized treatment options.  If you have any questions about your own personal hair loss or if you would like to learn more about any of the advanced hair loss treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and schedule an appointment with Dr. Edmond Griffin or Dr. Ashley Curtis for a full consultation so that we can determine the cause of your hair loss and what can be done to assist you.  Remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get the latest news in hair restoration and research.