Hair Loss Information at Balding Blog

Your hair loss questions, answered daily.

 

Since we invented the FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction’s first scientific paper written in 2002 by Rassman, et. al.), the use of this technique has become more prevalent at each and every year’s convention. What is impressive, is the inroads many physicians have made using this technology in their practice. In 2011, the Artas Robot was introduced into the hair transplant community and as of this date, 100 robots have been purchased by doctors from around the world. The FUE procedure has become more and more popular by patients wanting a hair transplant. Although we believe that the Strip graft procedure (Follicular unit transplantation) produces better grafts, the public seems to demand more and more FUE procedures and I would’s be surprised that the FUE might reflect between 30-40% of all hair transplant procedure across the world. For the new physician learning about hair transplantation, FUE requires less staff and when it is combined with the commercial ‘hair implanters’, the skills to produce quality work throughout the world seems to be a goal more easily achieved than with the traditional FUT (strip) procedure. There are three elements of the FUE that must be mastered, (1) the actual coring of the grafts from the back of the head with enough skill not to damage or transect these grafts while coring and removing them, and (2) the implantation process itself (carried out with the commercial ‘implanters’ or manual techniques like we use at the New Hair Institute, and (3) the many nuances for quality control that allows the grafts to survive the surgical procedure (drying of the grafts or damage to the grafts on handling and implantation).

One group of Indian doctors showed long hair FUE, just like we do. The ability to do this impressed us, as few doctors I am aware of, have developed the skills for this technique.

I was very impressed with the skills developed in various Asian countries (e.g. India, Thailand, China) where considerable numbers of patients with substandard work was performed in the past. Many videos were presented that showed that the skills for #1 and #2 were comparable to what we are doing at NHI. That was a pleasant surprise. Few of those doctors from third world countries could afford the high price of the Robot (more than $250.000) so the manual skills were essential to develop. I actually viewed more videos this year from India than any previous year.

On the negative side, complications of FUE abound with significant scarring in the donor area, far worse than I have seen before. Infections of the FUE donor area seemed more common than in my experience (where it is rare), and folliculitis of both FUE donor and recipient sites were reported as not uncommon. Clearly, there is more present in these surgeries than ‘meets the eye’ through the video offerings. Doctors clearly will show their best work for the videos. Time will tell just how well these cases turn out. Despite this statement, I believe that FUE will become more and more popular world-wide. We have already seen a significant growth in the FUEs in Europe as fewer and fewer doctors entering the business adopt the Strip technique.

Some doctors are combining both FUE and Strip surgery to increase the donor yield for a hair transplant. This makes sense if the doctors and their teams are skilled in both techniques, but it does push the envelope. I welcome comments from our readership.

 

We are moving in the general direction of prolonging life. Drugs to slow down aging are coming and some are even here now. The basic problem with extending life may reflect the quality of the life that is extended. If we add 10 years to a person’s life, will it be worthwhile? Will we just be filling the nursing homes with more debilitated, mentally impaired people?

In the recent issue of New Scientist (October 4, 2014 called Elixer of youth? It’s already here) and good overview of what is going on in the field of the ‘Elixer of Youth’ is examined. Google believes in this future and has invested in a company called Calico, an R&D firm targeting the life span issue. Even drug companies like Novartis have now entered the field with research of “geroprotetors” (longevity drugs). Many doctors who are in the anti-aging field are taking the drugs themselves even through they are deemed experimental at this time.

Adding up to 10 years on to your life may not be so distant into the future as you might think. Drugs such as a baby aspirin daily and a statin, is believed to reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease and even dementia. The evidence is clear on the use of baby aspirin but controversial for the value of statins. Some of the most promising drugs for future use were developedin organ transplants to reduce organ rejection such as the compound rapamycin. This drug has been found to extend life in yeast, worms and mice. A drug called everolimus can reverse the deterioration of the immune system that occurs with age. “Immune system aging is a major cause of disease and death.” These drugs seem to have the same effects on humans as seen in mice but the clinical evidence is wanting. The common drug metformin, used to treat diabetes, seems to have anti-aging effects when used on non-diabetes, but has side effects in producing diabetes in people taking it. Early evidence suggest that 15% of non-diabetics taking metforman were less likely to die than other not on the drug.

In other publications, Scientists have shown a link between long-living calorie-restricted mice and the types of microbes residing in the guts of those mice. The finding, published last month (July 16, 2013) in Nature Communications, suggests a novel mechanism of living longer by establishing the right kind of microbes in our gut through a low-calorie diet. We are learning more and more that we house colonies of gut bacteria that impact us in ways we never imagined.

“[The study] underlined the effectiveness of the healthy modulation of the gut microbiota along with diet specificities,” Jean-Paul Vernoux, a professor of food toxicology at the University of Caen in France who was not involved with the study, said in an email to The Scientist.

Caloric restriction has been known to extend life span in a variety of organisms, including humans, though the molecular mechanisms of this effect are not known. Recent research has begun to outline the role of the apparently innocuous microbes of the gut in modulating metabolism and immunity of their host. Based on these findings, Liping Zhao of Shanghai Jiao Tong University and his colleagues wondered if caloric restriction may prolong life span by modulating the type and composition of gut microbes.[/bq]

Read the rest — Eat Less and Live Longer?

Mice on a low-cal diet live longer. How does that translate to humans? We’ll see.

Tags: calories, diet, life, mice, human

 

Doctor,

I had a hair transplant in July 2009. The physician completely re-constructed my anterior hairline. There was no hair growing there before he transplanted some. In September of 2009 I began monthly injections of 1ml of testosterone. I noticed my hair really filling in from the transplant until about 6 months ago. Since then I have noticed a definite thinning of my hair including the reconstructed frontal hairline which was exclusively transplanted hair. Is it possible that the testosterone treatments have caused the transplanted hair to fall out? I have been taking 1mg of Propecia religiously since the transplant, but it doesn’t seem to be making a difference. Thank you.

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It is possible that the testosterone impacted the transplanted hair and almost certainly may have impacted the native hair that is present. If the hair transplants are falling out due to the testosterone injections, it might even suggest that the hairs used in the transplant didn’t come from the donor area (permanent zone in the back of the scalp). You need to discuss this with your surgeon, as he has the insights into your case and I only know what you told me above.

I realize you indicated that you’re not in the Los Angeles area, but if you make it out this way I would be happy to examine you.

The use of testosterone supplements is on the rise. The medical profession does not understand what this hormone does for men if they have a normal testosterone level but somehow, the male audience seems to think it has value (I do realize the body building community seems to see the value – at least in their marketing.). Certainly for the half of the population that has genetic balding, added testosterone will probably accelerate the hair loss picture for that individual. For this reason, I revisited this older post from a few years ago.

Tags: testosterone, hair transplant, hairloss, hair loss, shedding

 

I started to lose your hair this July. About that time I also went on hormones, DHEA, and antibiotics. Could these medications have caused my hair loss. I recently stopped taking these medications and think that the loss may have slowed and some reversal may be going on. Is this possible

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I believe that considering the short period of use and the known relationships between DHEA and hair loss, it is reasonable to expect that the hair loss you had might be related to the medication. You think that the hair loss is reversing upon stopping the medication so it is reasonable to expect that your progress will continue. You need to determine the status of your hair in and around your head, get the hair and scalp mapped out for miniaturization and hair bulk with the HAIRCHECK instrument. From changes in hair thickness (in bulk) you will know where you are going with your hair loss and if it has stabilized. Good hair transplant doctors’ offices will do these test for you.

Tags: hairloss, hair loss, female, woman, women, miniaturization

 

so dr? i interpret from your blog that 5a reductase is responsible for MPB and sensitivity of the receptors have nothing much to do with such catastrophe?

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Male pattern balding MPB is not a catastrophe. It is the cards that we are dealt when we are born just like the color of your eyes, shape of your nose, or the way you look. As stated in numerous posts, GENETIC inheritance is responsible for male pattern balding.

One of the mechanism of this genetic predisposition we know of is dihydrotestosterone (DHT). There may be other mechanisms other than DHT but it has not been discovered.

Scientists have found that if you block DHT, male pattern balding can be altered/ halted/ slowed/ temporarily reversed. Male pattern balding is not curable but it can be managed with drugs or surgery.

Blocking DHT is accomplished (as we know it) by slowing down the production of DHT. This is accomplished by inhibiting an enzyme called 5a reductase. 5a reductase is responsible for producing DHT from Testosterone. I suppose there may be another way to block DHT by blocking the receptors for DHT (not the enzyme that produce DHT). This will be new type of drug – yet to be discovered. Another drastic way to address MPB is castration to stop most of the testosterone production thus stopping most of DHT production but this will be drastic.

My point here is that it isn’t about DHT or 5a reductase. It is a genetic issue. So for those looking to completely block DHT with stronger medication such as Dutasteride (Avodart), it does not work as one may hope. Mainly because (I say again) it is a genetic issue. Another way to put it is that if you do not have the genes for MPB, you can have a very high DHT level and you will not be bald.

 

I am a medical student and was wondering how finasteride works to give people a fuller appearance of hair.

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In the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology July 2006, Volume 55, Dr. Vera Price summarized the action of finasteride as follows:

“Long-term finasteride treatment led to sustained improvement in hair weight compared with placebo. Hair weight increased to a larger extent than hair count, implying that factors other than the number of hairs, such as increased growth rate (length) and thickness of hairs, contribute to the beneficial effects of finasteride in treated men.”

This is important, because what she implies is that the miniaturized hairs reverse. That is why it is so important to map out the scalp for miniaturization and to perform bulk measurements with the HAIRCHECK instrument. These two approaches used prior to starting finasteride (Propecia) gives us a baseline metric to determine the value of the treatment. I have seen people with miniaturization in the 80% range, reduce substantially to almost normal levels (under 20%). This is why everyone taking finasteride should be evaluated prior to starting the treatment by a doctor who understands this process clearly.

Too many finasteride (Propecia) users do not get evaluated prior to starting the treatment. They depend upon their memory of what they looked like after being on the drug, the appearance of hairs falling out and found in the drain, and even photography. Considering the investment of emotion (and money) in treating hair loss, every person should be a HAIRCHECK done for bulk measurement. After a year on the drug, you will know if you are gaining, losing or just staying put. This is the critical first phase of a Master Plan for hair loss that everyone using it should undertake. These measurements along with the first visit check-up, is free at the New Hair Institute. For women, the HAIRCHECK measurement is also important for knowing where the hair loss is going.

Tags: finasteride, propecia, hairloss, hair loss

 

On September 17th, an Advisory Panel For FDA Recommends Restrictions To Doctors On The Use Of Testosterone on a vote of 20:1. Testosterone use has become more popular among American men and the question that is posed: Is it Safe? Men think that they have reduced testosterone and believe that it may be the cause of reduced sexual function. For these men, testosterone become the dream aphrodisiac to bring back their sexual performance and drive from their younger days. What most men do not realize is that decreased sexual function, from a physiological point of view is common in men over 40. Those with decreased sexual performance impacts (in general) 40% of men in their 40s, 50% in their 50s, 60% in their 60s and so on. Most of these men, especially those in their 40s and 50s have normal testosterone levels so added testosterone may have no know sexual benefit. Obviously from the vote, one panel member did not agree with the rest and this reflects uncertainty in the field. No one knows if the FDA will accept the panels recommendation.

LINK NY Times
LINK Urology Times
LINK FDA

 

I hear every conceivable answer to the question of washing ones hair. Should it be done daily, twice a day or weekly?

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A famous hair researcher recently suggested that a wool sweater of the highest grade, if washed everyday for a year, would eventually show significant wear and tear after a year. That is because the soaps and detergents used would break apart the wool fibers with time. Better wools stand up to the detergent attacks better. So it is with hair, more washing eventually damage the hair over time as the wax that protects the hair shafts (sebum) is washed out. The shorter the hair, the less the problem as the older hair (ends of the hair) show the damage of washing over time much more than short hair. Women with long hair complain of ‘split ends’ often and this is the result of accumulated washing and drying of the hair. Blow dryers produces more damage to the hair.

For most men who do not let their hair grow to shoulder length, wash as often as you wish. Use good quality shampoos and if you add a conditioner, it will re-hydrate the hair shafts after the detergents take out the wax that normally protects the hair.

 

When I was in my teens and twenties, my hair was long, lush, wavy and full bodied and made me look sexy. Now at 48, my hair is thin, the opposite of lush, limp and impossible to deal with. Is this a health problem that my doctor can help me with or is there someone else I can see to get my hair back to the way it was when I was younger.

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I am going to use this question as a way of addressing a variety of subject reflecting hair questions that rise from our readership from time to time.

Hair changes with age and often becomes finer. The lushness and full bodied hair you are talking about is the result of the texture of your hair and its thickness. Over the years, our hair changes its character, not only turning gray, but also becoming finer. If you have long hair and you use a hair blower to dry your hair, curlers to add body to it, curling irons to add more body to it, you will damage the hair that you have more with each use. You may have gotten away with it when you were young and your hair was more coarse and your sebum glands were more active in producing the wax that protected your hair; however, at your present age your hair will tolerate less and less of these treatments. Curling iron and hot irons or all kinds, kill hair.

What you need to do is to lubricate your hair, restore hydrophobicity, neutrilize the charges on the negatively charged hair and add lipids (fats to your hair). Think about your fingernails. When the tip breaks, the break propagates further into the fingernail. Hair is like the fingernail and you can not prevent the propagation of the break in the fingernail by putting a gel on it to fix it. Good quality shampoos and rinses, possibly with silicone, will help maintain ‘hair health’. I put quotes around the term ‘hair health’ because you all should know that the hair in our head is keratin which is not alive to the concept of ‘health’ here reflects the preservation of hair qualities and our abilities to make the hair look and feel better to us.

Silicone will smooth the feel of your hair and reduce friction thereby making it easier to comb your hair. When you pull your comb through your hair with any resistance, you break the hair fibers. The silicone in many of the hair products help, but all silicone is not the same. Silicone in our hair products come in different size particles. If smaller particles of silicone are used, they coat the hair better but because they are small but they wash out more easily. Higher quality silicones can be very expensive products, so be careful when you buy them as many are over priced products. When buying a quality product, if you like it, stick with it.

Hair conditioners work to make the electrical charge on the hair more positive. The use of surfactants also has value. Hair is covered with a naturally produced hydrophobic oil (repels water) and the poils are easily damaged bu UV light. As the hydrophobic oils leave the hair, the hair develops a negative electrical charge. The use a surfactants reduces the electrical charge, but may not make the hair as hydrophobic as you may want (repelling water)

I know how important hair is for many people as the focus on your hair grooming takes a considerable amount of time daily. But you must recognize that your hair changes as you age (men and women) and many of the things we do to help our hair, actually damages it. Use a good commercial shampoo made by a reputable suppliers and a good conditioner to ‘top off’ your daily cleaning routine. Once you find the shampoo you like, stick with it. Sulfate free shampoos probably makes no difference in the products you buy. The use of spray-on solutions for UV protection may not work well (long hair as the overall length of the hair, end on end, can be many, many meters long). When you use good hair products, its is about deposition and evenness in its application and putting things on and into long hair is not easy.

Organic shampoos make no difference on your hair health. The use of hyaluronic acid can add moisture so it can be used for moisturization when found in products, but its use is still in a research mode. As hair is normally resistant to water, getting products into the hair can be very difficult but in the research mode, Hyaluronic acid seems to work well for moisturization.

Water conditions in the area you live in vary and may significantly impact the shampoos and conditioners you use. Check with the labels on the products you use and see if it discuss their use in hard water. Some companies put kelators into the products to normalize the water. Copper is the worst thing found in water and kelants can neutralize the impact of copper. Frequent washing of your hair with hard water is bad, so using a conditioner is important. Make sure that the water you use in washing and with conditioners is cooler water, as hot water can damage hair.

There are products that thicken the hair shafts by making it absorb water or by coating the hair shafts to make it look fuller. There are products that produce thicker and fuller hair but this is a difficult area to make recommendations for as many of the product offerings are not really effective. If one thickens the hair shaft by just a little, the overall effect on hair bulk can be very significant considering that the thickening impact reflects the length of the hair measured end-on-end from a bulk point of view. Such products can act as if you have added 5000+ hairs to your head. In some countries, oils are added (e.g. olive oil) which may thicken the hair as it coats each hair shaft.

For hair regrowth, minoxidil is the only game in town that has been proven to grow new hair follicles from balding areas. For frequency recommendations for washing: the less the better. skin has a microbial community and the sebum and flakes cause micro-organizes to eat that fat. These bacteria eat sebum and the unsaturated fatty acids these bugs produce are irritants. Wash 2-3 times a week may be ideal for addressing these ‘bugs’. People with lower hair density and lower hair bulk need less washing because less sebum is produced and the hair shafts have more air movement around them causing more drying. Asians, with their lower densities, might take note here.

Minoxidil is the only game in town for new hair growth. Propecia may work mostly on reversing the miniaturized hairs that are already beginning the genetic slide with androgenic alopecia.

 

Dr Rassman,

My question is: does finasteride play any role in maintaining minoxidil dose-dependent hair?

I got started on 5% minoxidil topical in early Feb, 2009. My derm prescribed Finasteride oral 1mg/day too, but I did not pursue that medication due to the usual side-effects related concerns. There was an initial minox-induced shed: not a massive one, but scalp showed. Things started looking up 4 months later but then again in July/August a bout of minor shedding ensued. Survived that too. In November yet another shed started and this one was bad; short fine hairs all over the pillow in the morning. Scalp showed yet again, as bad as after the first shed in March. In December, I panicked, decided that Minox wasn’t working for me, and got started on Finstaride 1mg.

By mid-Feb this year, there was a sort of minor miracle on the top of my head. My hair is looking its best in maybe two years. I hope you agree with me that it’s unlikely that Finasteride started growing hair within 10 weeks of beginning its use. My (semi-literate) guess is that Minox first grew “peach fuzz”, which gave way to intermediate hair, which then was replaced by terminal hair. I suffered synchronized sheds, the last one being the shedding of intermediate hair. Maybe more sheddings are in store for me, maybe not.

To get to the point, I am so pleased with the result that I’ve gotten greedy: I want Finasteride growth too. No sexual side-effects so far. I’d like to press on with Fin, and reserve the option of discontinuing it in future if side-effects show up. I understand that that would result in catch-up loss, but then probably I’d be content with the hair that Minox grew for me.

Hence the question: do minox and Fin have a cumulative beneficial effect on the same hair follicle? Will minox-dependent hair too be lost in catch-up loss if Fin is stopped? If the answer is in the affirmative, I’d probably be better off stopping Fin right away, since I’ve been using it only for 3 months.

Thank you for a patient reading, and thank you for your time.

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You would have to poll each hair follicle and ask them what they liked better. If you can not communicate with them, then you are like me who frankly does not know the answer to your question. My best guess though (keep in mind I could be mistaken) is that because the medications work in different ways and finasteride will not keep hair grown from minoxidil and vice versa, that the benefits are independent of each other. Many men do use both medications concurrently, and as long as you can afford both (and maintain the regimen) I say go for it! It’s ok to be greedy and want your hair to look as great as possible. If the meds work well for you, that’s great news!

While it is unlikely that any major hair growth you’ve seen in just 10 weeks occurred from finasteride, you could’ve seen benefits from the medication that have helped your hair look better overall. The two drugs work differently. Minoxidil will grow new hair but the quality of the new hair varies in individuals from thin and poor, to strong and good (less than 15% of people). Finasteride probably does not grow new hair, but most likely works on the miniaturized hairs that we see in male pattern balding as it progresses. This is why finasteride (Propecia) will have no effect on the new minoxidil produced hairs. Minoxidil has not been shown to work on miniaturized hairs, at least that is what is presently understood.

Tags: finasteride, minoxidil, hairloss, hair loss, propecia, hair growth

 

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