Advice for those struggling with premature balding
Hair… when one stops to ponder self-identity, hair plays an enormous role in our perception and portrayal of who we think we are. It does not seem like it should, but if we are honest and truthful to this introspective exercise, hair… is to a large extent an extension of our identity, vitality and confidence that helps us portray to others, “this is me”, “this is my style”. So at what age is it okay to start losing our hair? When would we accept this notion without feeling upset or depressed? What is considered premature balding? Why is it happening? And whom can I turn to for help and sound advice?
- understand what premature balding is
- understand the process and progressive nature
- get evaluated by a specialist
- recognize warning signs
- be gullible
- be ashamed to ask for help
- cause further damage
- give up hope
Do understand what premature balding is
Although there is no official definition of premature balding, the issue can be described as a result of a genetically inherited form of hair loss – Androgenic Alopecia, expressing itself earlier than usual in men and women than normally expected (about 24 years old).
Do understand the process and progressive nature
Androgenic Alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in both men and women. This is often termed patterned hair loss, where the growth phase of a hair (anagen phase) is shortened resulting in an accumulation of very fine colorless hairs called vellus hairs. This process is characterized by loss of pigment (melanin) of the hair, and progressive hair miniaturization of the hair shaft, rendering a thinning or balding appearance. In men it is usually associated with loss of hair in the hairline , temples, and the crown (top back of the scalp). In women it is usually associated with retention of the hairline, with a diffuse thinning on the top, and back of the scalp. Although women can display similar patterns to men.
Do get evaluated by a specialist
Proper evaluation is critical in the long term planning of the patients current and future needs when it comes to evaluation for medical and surgical hair restoration intervention in the treatment for premature balding (and hair loss in general). It is extremely prudent to discuss long-term goals and expectations to make sure both the surgeon and the patient are on the same level. Two crucial questions to answer here are: What will the ultimate degree of the balding likely be? And when should surgical intervention begin within the constraints of the amount of donor supply available to treat the balding pattern? Thousands upon thousands of patients have been treated, both men and women with varying degrees and causes of hair loss with very pleasing, natural aesthetic results. These treatments have restored the patients’ confidence and ability to get on with their life.
Do recognize warning signs
We all have a desire or a need to feel attractive and youthful at least until various social and career milestones are met; then, after which time we can at least settle or accept some type of hair loss reluctantly, as we age. This is why hair loss is considered much more socially devastating if it occurs earlier or rather premature. Premature balding can (for some) have far reaching repercussions that are socially crippling. Some patients refuse to partake in social events that they feel will display their lack of hair. Aversion from participating in social events, constant anxiety, and depression should be addressed by a professional.
Do not be gullible
Keep your common sense intact. Try not to let yourself fall for unsubstantiated claims by the numerous lotions, potions and gimmicks that claim miracle cures – they do not exist (not yet).
Do not be ashamed to ask for help
Many men and women experience hair loss and are uncomfortable seeking professional help in either coping with, or seeking options to treat and reverse hair loss. If you are experiencing depression and or limiting your social interactions because of your anxiety about premature hair loss, seek out professional advice and help.
Do not cause further damage
Excessive styling with our daily routine and hair treatment regimens (i.e. permanents, straightening, blow drying on extreme high heat, bleaching, keratin treatments, coloring, and even excessive sun exposure) we subject our hair to, can in itself cause hair loss. Although not all of this is true hair loss, but rather breakage of hair strands resulting in less volume. Pulling and traction on the hair itself can actually cause the follicles to be killed if done on a continual basis. Examples of this would be continual use of hair extensions, or wearing tight braids (corn-row type) for extended period of time. It is common for this type of hairstyle to cause “Traction Alopecia” along the frontal third of the hairline including the corners and temple peaks, involving the sides of the scalp adjacent to the side burns. Education and lifestyle changes can help correct excessive styling hair damage.
Do not give up hope
Don’t assume nothing can be done for your premature hair loss. Now more than ever advanced intervention is available.The good news for those afflicted with premature balding (and balding in general) is that you are not alone, and for most, there is hope. Medical and surgical technology is currently available to help tame, manage and greatly improve your hair loss dilemma.
The combination of medical therapy (Finasteride and Minoxidil) along with proper design and planning of hair restoration is salient in the fight against premature balding. Although hair restoration surgery can help replace what is already lost, medical therapy will help stabilize and prevent further hair loss. This is crucial in premature hair loss, as the younger a person starts balding, the greater his or her potential to develop a more severe pattern of hair loss.
Do research online to seek out and find qualified medical and surgical hair restoration specialist with board certification. One great resource is the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery.
No matter what the cause, whether considered “premature” or not, hair loss is never a pleasant condition to deal with. With the advent of new biomedical and surgical technologies, now more than ever more hair loss can be minimized, stabilized and even reversed in most cases. The key is education, prevention and proper surgical intervention. So, from one prior hair loss sufferer to another, take heart, take action. I am glad I did.