Many different physical features can contribute to making a person appear older than they really are. With men, perhaps more than any other single attribute, the hairline influences the perception of chronologic age. Even a mildly receding hairline can make a man appear up to 10 years older than he truly is. With women, hair loss often occurs in a less typical pattern, but can nonetheless contribute to an overall dissatisfaction with appearance. This is why, along with our comprehensive list of other surgical and non-surgical treatments, Gaines Plastic Surgery also offers hair transplant surgery. The team at our Gainesville, Florida-based cosmetic surgery practice can help to determine whether hair transplant is a viable option for you, and which hair restoration technique will best meet your unique needs.
Dr. Gaines can help you understand the different causes of hair loss, and the hair restoration treatments available. He will help you determine the most appropriate method of treatment for your needs. He will also educate you about the advantages and disadvantages of the different treatments and medications so you can make an informed decision.
Causes of Hair Loss
Genetic factors, illness, various hormonal changes, and physical trauma such as severe burns can cause a person to lose his or her hair. Most of the time, hair loss from illness such as hypothyroidism or Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD) results from hormone imbalance which, when treated, can allow hair growth to return to normal.
Fungal infections of the scalp can cause hair loss in a typical pattern, but are easily treated and also represent a reversible form of alopecia. Medicines, including some blood thinners, some antidepressants, medicines for treating gout, Vitamin A ( in large doses), and chemotherapeutic medicines used to treat cancer can also contribute to thinning hair or balding; a normal hair growth pattern is usually restored when the medicines are stopped.
The most commonly encountered form of hair loss in this country, however, is alopecia androgenetica, or male-pattern baldness (MPB). The factors responsible for this condition are still not completely understood, but involve an interaction between a patient’s own genetic code (passed down from parents) and their circulating levels of male hormones. In genetically susceptible individuals, hair follicles at the temples, along the front of the forehead, and on the top of the head are sensitive to the effects of testosterone, which causes them to degenerate over time.
Female-pattern baldness is less common than MPB, but still far more common than any of the other causes of hair loss or thinning listed. In women, the pattern of genetically-programmed, hormonally influenced alopecia most commonly involves variable degrees of thinning of the hair at the front and top of the head (through it rarely progresses to complete baldness, as in men). These conditions are usually not reversible without specific medical treatment or hair transplant surgery, as offered at our Gainesville, Florida practice.
Medical Treatments for Hair Loss
There are currently only two medicines available in this country which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in treating male-pattern baldness.
The exact way in which this medicine works is not known. It was originally developed as a blood pressure medicine, but it was found that people taking the medicine for their blood pressure began growing hair unexpectedly. It is available for use by both men and women, and is applied as topical foam directly to the scalp. If hair growth is going to occur with the use of Minoxidil, it usually occurs after the medicine has been used for several months and lasts only as long as the medicine continues to be used. Hair loss will begin within a few months after the medicine is stopped. Minoxidil is available in the U.S. without a prescription.
This medicine is directed at blocking the enzyme that changes testosterone to its active form in the bloodstream. Without this conversion, the testosterone is less able to exert any effect on susceptible hair follicles. Finasteride is available only for use by men (it can be hazardous to unborn male children in women of childbearing age), is taken as a pill, and requires a doctor’s prescription. Like Minoxidil, hair re-growth usually takes several months to appreciate, and will stop within a year after the medicine is stopped. Twin studies, using identical twins to distinguish the difference between treated and untreated patients, have shown significant hair growth in vertex (top of the head) balding. Finasteride does not appear to help with hair loss at the temples.
Hair Transplant Surgery
For patients in whom medical therapies are unlikely to reverse the changes which have already taken place, but who also have a significant amount of hair on the back and sides of the head, follicular unit transfer hair transplantation, or hair transplant surgery, is a procedure which has offered many men a lasting solution to male-pattern baldness.
True to the concept of “donor site dominance,” hair taken from the back and sides of the head and moved to another part of the scalp will remain as resistant to the effects of testosterone as the hair normally found in these areas. First introduced as a concept in 1988, follicular unit hair transplant surgery further takes advantage of the fact that hairs on the human scalp exist in naturally-occurring groups of one to four hair follicles (follicular “units”). Other methods of transplantation used in the past clustered these naturally occurring follicular units into unnatural-looking groups (clumps, strips, plugs), always resulting in an artificial tufted appearance of the final product. Refinements made over the past 19 years make the follicular unit transfer technique of hair restoration unique in the following ways:
- Follicular unit transplantation alone respects the way in which hair normally grows in the scalp.
- Cosmetic results appear natural to such a high degree that such procedures typically are undetectable as a transplant product, even upon close examination.
- Density is achievable to a suitable degree with multiple sessions.
- The results of the first session look natural regardless of whether other sessions are completed.
- The patient remains in control throughout. All future choices are made by the patient electively and are not forced because of detectability or unnatural appearance from the first session’s results.
In addition, dense-packing of follicular units to a density of up to 50 units/cm² and a trichophytic donor closure (designed to allow hair growth through the donor scar) combine to allow Dr. Gaines and his skilled team of hair transplant technicians to perform state-of-the-art hair restoration that is second to none. By using these techniques in combination with your own donor hair characteristics, Dr. Gaines will design a plan that addresses your specific concerns and goals.
For more information about hair transplant surgery or medical alternatives, contact our Gainesville, Florida area practice today.
Schedule a Hair Transplant Consultation
It is important to schedule a consultation at our practice to discuss hair transplant surgery and the risks and benefits involved. At Gaines Plastic Surgery, our skilled team will gladly answer your questions and help determine if you are a good candidate for hair transplant surgery. Whenever possible, we will also suggest alternative treatments that can meet your unique goals.
To schedule a consultation for a hair transplant at our Gainesville, Florida practice, contact Gaines Plastic Surgery.