The Facts About Genetic Pattern Hair Loss

Talking about hair loss often makes people uncomfortable, which may be the reason why many of those who are suffering from the condition aren’t terribly interested in its underlying cause.  However, as we always say at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, details make all the difference.  There are actually many different medical conditions and environmental factors that can lead to thinning hair, and each one requires its own diagnosis and distinctive approach to treatment.  Still, most of the hair loss experienced by both men and women is attributable to androgenetic alopecia, or common genetic pattern baldness.  Recognizing the most basic aspects of this condition is often the first step to successfully treating most patients’ hair loss.

The Facts About Genetic Pattern Hair Loss

WHAT exactly IS Androgenetic Alopecia?

Some people are born with hair follicles that have a genetic sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (or DHT), a natural by-product of the breakdown of testosterone in the body.  Even though testosterone is an androgen responsible for the development of male characteristics, it is present, in varying degrees, in both men and women.  When sensitive hair follicles are exposed to DHT they begin to shrink and their growth cycle shortens.  Over time, they produce gradually thinner and thinner hair strands until, eventually, they stop producing hair altogether.  While this sensitivity is inherited, it does not affect all hair follicles equally, which is why the hair loss progresses in a predictable pattern and the specific patterns of male and female hair loss differ.  Because this form of hair loss is genetically inherited, and because it progresses in a recognizable pattern, it is more correctly referred to as genetic pattern hair loss.

WHO can be affected by Genetic Pattern Baldness?

Genetic pattern hair loss was once called “male pattern baldness” because it was believed to only affect only older men.  Today, however, we now know this this is completely untrue.  The American Hair Loss Association has found that about 85% of all men, and roughly 50% of all women, experience some degree of hair thinning by the time they are 50.  Some men can even begin to lose their hair before they reach the age of 21.  One of the many myths about hair loss is that men with greater amounts of testosterone are more susceptible, but this is incorrect as well.  Both men and women have testosterone and DHT present in their bodies, and the determining factor appears to be the sensitivity of the hair follicles, not the concentration of the hormones.  Men and women of all races and ages can be affected by hair loss.

How can Genetic Pattern Hair Loss be treated?

There are only two FDA approved medications for hair loss: minoxidil and finasteride.  Minoxidil is sold under the brand name Rogaine® and is approved for use on both men and women.  It works by increasing the size of shrunken hair follicles and by keeping them in the anagen (or growth) phase longer, effectively counteracting the typical progression of androgenetic alopecia.  Finasteride, which is sold in two strengths under the brand names Propecia® and Proscar® and is only FDA approved for use on male patients, works directly on the underlying cause of hair loss by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, a chemical that plays a key role in converting testosterone to DHT.  We can also provide many other hair loss prevention options that have consistently achieved great results.  Finally, in cases where the hair loss has progressed further, hair transplantation surgery can help restore your hair line by surgically removing follicles that are more resistant to the effects of DHT from the back or sides of the scalp and moving them to the affected areas.

At The Griffin Center, we treat all of the different causes of hair loss and work with patients individually to put together a customized hair loss prevention plan that will give them the best possible and most natural looking hair restoration results.  If you have concerns that you or someone you love may be suffering from hair loss, and would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Griffin or Dr. Curtis to help understand your options, please contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration or The Griffin Center for Women’s Hair Loss.  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get the latest news in hair restoration and research.