By 50, around 85% of men will have significantly thinning hair. Some form of hair loss and/or balding affects 35 million men in the U.S. alone. If you suspect or have been told you’re losing your hair, you’re not alone. To help you address your thinning hair (or prepare for it to come), here are four things a hair loss specialist wants you to know about your thinning hair or baldness:
- You can’t always see it
By the time your thinning hair becomes visible, you’ll have already lost half of your hair. If you’re 35, chances are good that you’re already experiencing appreciable hair loss, whether you see it or not. Hair loss is often a slow process, one “slowed” even more by stubborn denial. But the longer you spend denying your hair loss, the less likely a hair loss specialist will be able to provide a full recovery.
- Know the difference between normal hair loss and balding
Before balding or hair loss take affect, the natural lifespan of a strand of hair is up to six years. Your hair will spend two to six years growing before going into a resting phase during which it just hangs out. After several months of “resting,” the hair strand will fall out. This is natural and part of normal hair shedding. As long as the hair falling out is being replaced by an equal or greater number of new hairs coming in, you’re doing fine. Kind of like when you want to buffer your bank account: if inflows are greater than outflows, you’re excelling. If inflows equal outflows, you’re still doing just fine. It’s when things turn the other way that we’ve got a problem. Chances are if you lose more than 100 hairs in a given day, you’re suffering from hair loss.
- How to spot male pattern baldness
For 95% of men suffering hair loss, the cause is Androgenetic Alopecia, more familiarly known as male pattern baldness (MPB). The beauty of MPB is it is treatable (if you stop denying it and go see a hair loss specialist). First, you must recognize MPB for what it is. MPB can take the form of any number of common hair loss patterns: from a receding hairline to thinning crowd or even an overall thinning across the entirety of your head. The only common denominator here is that MPB will never affect the sides or back of your head.
- The most common treatments for hair loss
Two of the most common treatments prescribed by a hair loss specialist are Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Strip Surgery (FUSS).
FUE hair transplant is one of the most common means of obtaining follicular units for hair transplantation. A follicular unit is a naturally occurring group of one to four hairs. A FUE can result in groupings with as many as seven or eight hairs in a single graft.
During a FUE hair transplant procedure, a hair loss specialist will use a tiny punch to harvest follicular units one at a time. The punch is typically anywhere from .7 millimeter to 1 millimeter in size. Overall, you can expect the procedure to take about eight hours to complete. Afterwards, you’ll have a bit of healing time. The exact time for your scalp to heal will depend on your skin type. However, you can expect the grafts to take in a few days and the redness to subside after four to five days.
FUSS is a form of hair transplant surgery. A hair loss specialist will surgically remove a strip of your scalp from an area that isn’t balding. This strip will then be moved to an area that has begun to bald. Due to its more invasive nature, FUSS tends to have a higher rate of complications. It also leaves a scar at the back of your head, limits your options of graft harvesting in the future, and has a longer recover time.
FUE is minimally invasive in comparison, resulting in a lower complication rate, no scars, and shorter recovery time. Likewise, patients who receive a FUE treatment have the option to shave their hair in the future.