Hair SOS! What to do if you’re going bald

Are you thinning on top? Or just worried that you might lose your locks in the future? You’re not alone – the fear of baldness is something of a hidden epidemic amongst men. One study, carried out by Asda Pharmacy, found that 36 per cent of men listed hair loss as one of their biggest worries, and 41 per cent said that they would rather lose the sight in one eye than go bald! 

Although losing your hair can be a scary ordeal, you’re not completely helpless against the march of time. But first, you need to establish why you’re going bald.

Identifying your hair loss

To start tackling your diminishing locks, you need to figure out if you’re suffering from reactive hair loss or genetic hair loss.  Reactive hair loss is excessive hair shedding triggered by an internal imbalance. The most common causes are vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as a lack of iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. If you’re losing your hair in clumps or patches, you should see your GP for further advice.

On the other hand, genetic hair loss is exactly what you’d expect – you’ll experience gradually reducing hair volume and density. This is the most common form of hair loss in men. If you have a receding hairline, a bald spot, or are generally thinning out, you likely have genetic hair loss, also known as male-pattern baldness. 

Okay, so your genes have let you down

If you’re confident your hair loss is down to genetics, that means your DNA has left your hair follicles vulnerable to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a by-product of testosterone production.

DHT attaches to your genetically inferior hair follicles and causes them to shrink over time. This leads the hair to become thinner and thinner until each strand is simply too thin and weak to penetrate the surface of the skin.

Cruel, right? But don’t go blaming just your dad for your hair loss genes – or even your mum for that matter! Your chances of losing hair are determined by a complex host of genes from both your mother and father, so perhaps you can blame them both!

In any case, if you’re spotting the telltale signs of genetic hair loss, you may be surprised to hear that you have a few options.

Transplants

Hair transplants have become synonymous with celebrities – the dramatic recovery of Wayne Rooney and Gordon Ramsey’s hairlines have been the subject of many articles, discussions and memes. Sadly, there’s a reason for this – hair transplants are very expensive, typically costing between £4000 and £15000.

However, the results can be very impressive, so transplants are a great option if you have the budget. The procedure involves harvesting hairs from a certain part of your scalp (called the “donor site”) and transplanting them onto a different part of your scalp. There are two main types of transplant – FUT and FUE.

FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) removes a thin strip of hairs from the back of the head, which is then carefully divided under a microscope into a large number of grafts, to then transplant to the top or front of the head. This is used by some surgeons to collect a greater number of grafts but leaves a line scar which tends to need a longer hairstyle to conceal it.

FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) removes the individual follicles after having shaved a small area at the back of the head. There is also an ‘unshaven’ technique, but there are only a handful of surgeons who offer this very discrete option. The follicles are then placed at the top/front of the head. As the grafts are extracted individually, it can be more time-consuming but also a more discrete approach with less scarring.

If you don’t want to spend that kind of money or prefer a less invasive approach, then you may want to consider medical treatment.

Treatment

There are two clinically-proven MPB medications: minoxidil and finasteride, which have been shown to be safe and effective in treating hair loss in the majority of men.

Taken once daily, Finasteride is an oral medication that prevents the conversion of testosterone into DHT, the hormone responsible for shrinking hair follicles. In clinical trials, 83% of men stopped losing hair as a result of taking Finasteride regularly, and more than 66% grew hair back.

Minoxidil is a topical medication that is applied directly to the scalp. It dilates the blood vessels around the hair follicles, allowing more blood and nutrients to them, eventually leading to the production of thicker hairs.

Once upon a time, acquiring these treatments was subject to long doctor’s appointments and extortionate private clinic fees, but they’re now readily available! If you’re interested, you can get started with Cornerstone from just £20 a month.

But, if you feel that transplants or treatments aren’t right for you, then there’s really just one option left…

Embrace it

This doesn’t just mean ‘shave it off’, which is easy to say if you’re blessed with the rugged good looks of Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham! However, if a transplant or treatment doesn’t appeal to you, many men make peace with their hair loss by either shaving their head (which can be a great look), or by simply running with it. 

For instance, Bill Bailey has had no hair on the top of his head for years, but he hasn’t let that stop him living his glam-rock hair dreams! It’s worth speaking to your barber to see if there’s a style that might work for you. For instance, if you don’t fancy the Bill Bailey look, some guys find a short hairstyle can help a receding hairline look thicker. In short, try to own your baldness, and it won’t own you.

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