Male pattern baldness and hair growth advice for men from a trichologist
Over half of men by the age of 50 are affected by male pattern baldness making it the most common cause of hair loss in men. However, although it is a very a common condition, this does not mean that you should not be affected by the loss of your hair. Hair loss is always psychologically difficult, and you should not feel embarrassed or worried that your hair loss is not serious enough to need treatment if it is affecting you.
This article explains what male pattern baldness looks like, what causes it, what the treatments are, and how you can go about getting help for your hair loss.
Receding hairline in men
If you are noticing that your front hairline is thinning and receding, this is most likely caused by male pattern hair loss. However, there may be other reasons why your hairline is receding, for example traction alopecia.
If you are worried about your hairline receding and want to discuss in an impartial, non-judgemental space which treatment option is right for you, contact the Clinic to book a consultation.
What is male pattern baldness?
Male pattern baldness is also called androgenetic alopecia, and is the most common form of hair loss in men. ‘Andro’ refers to androgens, a type of sex hormone which is responsible for the development of typically male characteristics. ‘Genetic’ refers to the fact that male pattern baldness is inherited, and ‘alopecia’ is the general term for hair loss. People with male pattern hair loss experience thinning on the top of the scalp, as well as a receding front hairline, often starting at the temples. You may notice an increase in hair on your pillow or in the shower initially, but generally the progression of male pattern hair loss is slow.
What causes male pattern baldness?
The three main factors in male pattern baldness are age, genetics, and sensitivity to androgens. Male pattern baldness is caused by a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, which is a form of testosterone which has been catalysed by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. Dihydrotestosterone binds to the androgen receptors in the follicle, shorting the growth phase of the hair which gradually produces shorter, finer hairs over each hair growth cycle. Male pattern baldness is an inherited condition, and can be inherited from either or both parents.
Best hair loss treatments for men
Although there is no cure for male pattern baldness, there are many effective treatments that can be tried, and you may need to try a few options before you figure out which option is the best for you. The main clinically proven treatments are explained below, but there are many other alternative treatments that are marketed. If you have a question about one of the treatment options below, or an alternative treatment contact the Kate Holden Clinic in Manchester for advice.
Minoxidil for male hair loss
Minoxidil, also called Regaine or Rogaine is a topical treatment which is applied directly to the scalp every day. Minoxidil works by dilating (widening) the blood vessels increasing the flow of blood and nutrients to the follicles.
Things you should know about minoxidil:
Minoxidil gives a noticeable improvement in hair growth in around 40% of people who use it.
In around another 30% of people the hair loss is stabilised.
The benefits of minoxidil are temporary, and the hair loss will return once minoxidil is stopped.
Minoxidil is not a prescription medication and can be easily bought online or in a pharmacy.
A monthly course of minoxidil is around £20.
Minoxidil can cause scalp irritation and redness
When you first start using minoxidil you may notice an initial increase in hair shedding – this is temporary.
It takes around 2 – 3 months to assess whether minoxidil is having an effect.
Finasteride for male hair loss
Finasteride, also called Propecia or Proscar, is a prescription medication which is commonly given to treat pattern hair loss, and similarly to minoxidil provides benefits only while it is being taken. Finasteride works to reduce the levels of dihydrotestosterone allowing some recovery of hair growth in the affected follicles.
A commonly reported side effect of finasteride is decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. There is some concern that finasteride may cause birth defects and that finasteride should be avoided in people who are planning a family, however evidence for this is limited. If you are considering taking finasteride, please speak to your GP to discuss potential risks and benefits.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) for male hair loss
PRP is a treatment which involves taking a small amount of blood, spinning it in a centrifuge to extract the platelets, and then injecting the concentrated platelets into the scalp. The wound healing properties of the platelets are theorised to help stimulate the hair follicles. There are a number of promising studies and many positive anecdotal reviews for PRP therapy, but more research is still needed.
Camouflage treatments for male hair loss
Hair fibres, scalp micropigmentation, wigs, hairpieces and hair camouflage systems are commonly used to increase confidence in people experiencing pattern hair loss without having to use medical interventions.
Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is particularly popular and is a type of temporary tattooing which is applied in small dots to give the appearance of shaved hairs on an area of more noticeable hair loss, or an increase in hair density in an area of thinning hair. Scalp micropigmentation lasts around 5 years, so it is important to choose who will be doing your scalp micropigmentation carefully.
Hair transplant for male hair loss
Hair transplantation can give a permanent restoration of density in patients with stable hair loss. There are different types of hair transplantation including FUE transplants and FUT transplants.
FUE stands for follicular unit extraction and is where individual grafts are ‘punched’ out from the scalp. This technique is more commonly used as it leaves less noticeable scarring and typically has a faster recovery time.
FUT or follicular unit transplantation is performed by taking a thin strip of skin from the back of your head, which are then divided into grafts and transplanted back into the top of the scalp. This type of hair transplantation is typically used when you need a larger amount of hair restoration.
Hair transplants are typically performed under local anaesthetic, meaning that you will be awake for the procedure but will not feel any pain during the transplant.
Hair transplants typically cost between £2,000 to £7,000 but they can be more or less expensive depending on the size of scalp being treated, the clinic, and the technique being used. Hair transplants typically take a day, and you do not tend to have to stay overnight unless there are complications with the transplant.
Hair growth advice for men
If you are experiencing male pattern baldness, follow these main tips to help increase your confidence and to look after your hair and scalp:
Remember that you will not lose all the hair from your scalp.
Keep in mind that there are various effective treatments that you can try.
Know that male pattern hair loss is very common, and that it does not mean that there is something wrong with you.
Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if your hair loss is affecting you emotionally.
Try to reduce stress, although stress does not affect male pattern hair loss directly, stress can lead to another form of hair loss called telogen effluvium.
Talk to your friends and family about how your hair loss is affecting you – many people make insensitive comments about hair loss, and communicating that this upsets you is important.
Make sure you are following a healthy and balanced diet and drinking plenty of water to ensure your follicles get the nutrition they need.
Wash your hair and scalp regularly to keep your scalp clean and healthy.
Exercise regularly and practice self-care as much as possible.
Get advice on your hair loss and decide on a treatment plan – speak to a trichologist, dermatologist or GP for hair loss advice.
Hair loss advice for men in Manchester
If you are experiencing thinning hair and or you’ve noticed that your hairline is receding, book a consultation appointment with the Kate Holden Clinic for professional examination, diagnosis, and treatment.
Visit the Kate Holden Clinic hair treatment centre in Manchester to see a registered trichologist.