Androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern hair loss, is the most common type of hair loss in men. Male pattern hair loss is a testosterone-dependent, genetically-programmed physical trait that occurs due to the transition of terminal scalp hairs into finer, thinner, lighter-colored miniaturized hairs called vellus hairs. Studies show that up to 80% of males exhibit some male pattern hair loss by age 70. The miniaturization of male hair occurs in a specific pattern as shown in the figure below. The earliest affected scalp area in male pattern hair loss are the frontotemporal triangles closely followed by the vertex/crown of the scalp.
In men, miniaturization of hair in androgenetic alopecia is closely linked with a testosterone hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). This is the basis of one treatment option for male pattern hair loss, oral finasteride (Propecia), which reduces DHT in the blood. Other potential triggers of male pattern hair loss include sun/UV damage to scalp skin, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol ingestion, stress/anxiety/depression, and deficiency in specific nutritional and metabolic requirements.
Treatment options discussed below serve two purposes in androgenetic alopecia – protect the hair you have and stimulate the miniaturized hairs to regrow to their previous thickness and length.
What Are My Options?
It is well known that scalp health is influenced by our diet and hair care products which in turn can alter hair growth, hair shaft thickness, and overall hair follicle survival. Therefore, maintaining a healthy scalp promoted hair growth and slows hair loss. An easy analogy is “growing hair is like growing grass.” In other words, the thicker the topsoil and the better the fertilizer, the better grass will grow. Similarly, thicker scalp skin with a normal scalp pH (a scale of acidity vs. alkalinity) will improve hair growth and decrease hair shedding. The only caveat is that while sun is necessary for grass growth, sun PROTECTION is important in maintaining a healthy scalp and limiting hair loss. Scalp protection with a wide-brimmed hat is useful. Of note, it is a myth that hats and other headwear lead to hair loss (they actually slow the thinning process by protecting the scalp skin from the damaging effects of UV rays!).
The scalp and hair have a normal pH of 4.5 +/-0.5. Maintaining this normal acidic pH of the scalp and hair is necessary for optimal hair growth. Shampoos which contain ingredients such as glycolic acid in Rx Systems PF’s Glycolic Volumizing Shampoo promote healthy scalp and hair are designed to rid the scalp of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells and ensure a scalp pH of 4.5. Conditioners, such as Rx Systems PF’s Glycolic Volumizing Conditioner, are also designed to restore the scalp pH to 4.5, reduce tangle, and restore moisture content to the hair.
Nutrition also plays a key role in maintaining a healthy scalp and hair. Hair is composed mainly of keratin proteins which are composed of amino acids. Rx Systems PF’s Aminoplex supplement contains the exact amino composition of hair to ensure all the ingredients are necessary in the scalp skin to grow hair.
Other Treatment Options:
Minoxidil and Other Topical Treatments – Topical formulations of minoxidil are approved by the FDA for treatment of male pattern hair loss. Minoxidil essentially causes shedding of non-growing, telogen hairs and replaces these hairs with growing, anagen ones. Minoxidil also promotes hair growth by lengthening the anagen growth phase of hair follicles and causing more follicles to produce hair. The hairs that are produced tend to be larger and thicker. We also offer unique prescription topical foams that combine effective hair-promoting ingredients into one convenient daily use product.
Oral Finasteride – A daily oral medication that reduces DHT levels in the blood is a very effective treatment for male pattern hair loss. With daily use, finasteride has been shown in studies to halt further hair loss in up to 91% of patients with 65% of those patients experience hair regrowth.
Photobiomodulation/Low Level Laser Light Therapy – Light caps and light combs utilizing certain wavelengths and settings have been shown to stimulate hair growth and prevent hair loss by altering the hair morphogenesis WNT/B Catenin pathway.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) – A natural, non-surgical approach to hair restoration via a series of injections into the scalp with thinned hair. A patient’s blood is drawn, spun down in a centrifuge device to stratify the blood products, the platelets are removed and then injected back into the scalp. Activated platelets have several growth factors such as IGF-1, EDGF, TGF-B, and PDGF that stimulate the dermal papilla cells of the hair follicle leading to hair growth. PRP has been shown to maintain hair, thicken the caliber of the hair up to 30%, and increase the length of the growing phase of hair (obviously if your hair is growing for a longer period of time, it will become longer and thicker). Maximum benefit is typically seen 8-12 months following the series of 3 injections, with annual injections needed thereafter to maintain efficacy.
Surgical Hair Transplantation – Using state-of-the-art transplantation techniques, we are able to offer hair surgery restoration options such as FUE or FUT to our patients that yield natural, effective results with reduced downtime.
Maintaining healthy hair growth and scalp skin is a daily activity the requires an effective hair care program. Allow our team of hair care physician specialists assist you in creating a personalized program for you. We encourage you to be an active participant in your hair care and look forward to continuing to seeing your progress.