Hair Transplant Surgery Basics
In any subject worth studying one must start with the basics. You can't start your research about which hair transplant surgery clinic or hair transplant surgery doctor is best for you if you don't know the difference between FUE, FUT, FUSS and BHT or the inner diameter of the hypodermic needle inside of a Lion Implanter Pen and how that relates to the lateral slit blade cutting tool made by Cutting Edge Surgical Equipment. HUH??? Exactly! This is why you should just keep reading.
What I'm going to discuss is:
- Why Do We Lose Hair?
- History of Surgical Hair Restoration.
- Current Methods of Surgical Hair Restoration.
- What are the treatments For Hair Loss? What Works? What Doesn't?
- Hair Restoration in The Future.
Why Do We Lose Hair?
In this section I'll discuss the basics of hair loss and provide an overview of why this is happening to us. It is important to learn about this before you learn about hair transplant surgery. First things first. If you haven't seen it on the cover of Time magazine or read about it on all the major news outlets then that "cure" or "revolutionary" hair treatment you heard about from your cousin who's weird roommate read about it online is just another method in which someone has thought of a way to take your money (or that of your cousin's weird roommate). There is no secret oil that hasn't been discovered yet in the back woods of New Jersey, there is no combination of household items or vitamins that you can get at your local grocer that will somehow unlock the secrets of hair rejuvenation. There is no conspiracy by me, Spencer Kobren or the big pharmaceutical companies so they can continue to make money on treatments. So forget about the possibility of a cure or miracle treatment for now because they simply do not exist.
Just like with hair rejuvenation you can also discount most of the reasons you've heard for WHY you are losing your hair. There are so many myths and tales about why we lose our hair that it only serves to confuse the issue because with one cause there must be another method to block it, right? Wrong. I'll touch on some of the myths you may have heard about but I won't touch them all. There're too many and you'll understand more once I explain the real reasons why you're losing your hair.
- "I'm wearing my hat too much". Nope. This is not a reason why you are losing your hair. It just isn't true and anyone that tells you otherwise is a fool. For a hat to be the cause of your hair loss one of two things need to happen. The first would be that the hat has to be very tight, so tight that any movement causes hair to be pulled out. As it stands, we wear tighter hats such as baseball caps loose enough that wind may be able to blow it off in the right conditions. It would have to be so tight that you'd quite literally have circulation problems AND the only area where a hat would be tight to begin with would be above the ears, the forehead (below the hairline) and at the top end of the occipital bone (the horizontal boney ridge at the back of your head). Hats generally don't touch any other areas of your head. Second, you'd have to leave it on for months as daily wear as hats gives your hair plenty of time to recover. In other words, wearing hats is about as effective at causing hair loss as wearing a head scarf. Not that I have experience wearing a head scarf, I'm just saying IF you were to wear a head scarf it would have no detriment to your hair.
- "My pores are clogged". Umm, no. Clogged pores may be an issue for some but they don't stop hair from growing on a massive scale. Hair grows regardless of the exit passage being blocked or not. What happens is if a pore is clogged and a hair gets trapped it just turns into an ingrown hair which resembles a pimple. Yes, you should wash your hair and yes you should scrub fairly aggressively when you do wash your hair but clogged pores are not causing you to thin out. Period.
- "I'm too rough with my hair" or "I brush my hair too often" . These two are common myths but completely false. You can't really be too rough with your hair unless you're talking about Trichotillomania (click to learn more). Brushing your hair too doesn't really do anything except help to pull out any hair that is supposed to come out anyway. Often people associated a hair on their brush or in the sink with actual hair loss but in reality we're supposed to lose hair every day so neither of these issues cause hair loss.
- " I lost my hair because my scalp must have decreased blood flow". What are you? Dead? You don't suddenly have reduced blood flow to specific parts of your body (well, maybe ONE part of your body). In fact, the opposite is true. Hair requires blood flow to continue growing, yes, but once it starts to fall out there is less blood actually needed so the body adjusts but reduced blood flow is not a cause of hair loss but rather it is a result of hair loss.
- "I shampoo too much". Some may say not enough. I KID!!! Seriously though, no. You're not causing yourself to go bald because you're washing your hair too much. You may think this because you see hair in the drain after your shower or take a bath but the fact is that you're losing hair all day every day, between 100 and 200 hairs a day. So when you see hair in the the drain or on your pillow or anywhere it's just hair that is supposed to fall out. Don't worry, it will come back so keep shampooing. Please.
So why do we lose our hair? There is actually a long list of reasons but by far the number one reason why we (men) lose our hair is because of our genetics. It's true, and you don't have just your mother to blame (yet another myth). The gene that blesses us with shiny domes of chrome is carried on to offspring by either sex so don't go screaming at your mother unless you've actually had a genetics test proving she's the culprit. Until then, just keep enjoying her home cooking during the holidays and don't forget to call her on her birthday! Seriously, she birthed you!
There is one hormone that is the main culprit for our hairless destiny and that would be the same hormone that makes us men. Yes, testosterone. But don't start thinking you need to stop hitting the gym and just become a couch potato (known cause of reduced testosterone). Testosterone isn't actually what is causing your hair to fall out but it is one of two ingredients that need to be blended together to cause this problem. The second ingredient is an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. Sexy name, yes? There are two types of this enzyme that break testosterone down to another hormone called dihydrotestosterone. THIS is the little bugger that causes our hair to fall out (among other things) but more specifically it only does so in those of us that have the cellular receptors that DHT binds to and THAT is where the genetics component comes into the story. We don't have the receptors if we aren't genetically inclined to have them. DHT is a part of everyone's hormonal cocktail that is flowing through our veins and tissues but only some of us are in a position that allows this DHT to cause any harm. I always describe the process of genetic hair loss like this. Imagine you're in a dark alley and some really skinny, really bad guy comes up behind you and starts strangling you. This is DHT. Now, he's not that strong, since he's so skinny, so he has to strangle you for a REALLY long time but as he does you eventually get weaker and weaker and weaker so after a few years of strangling you your life eventually will end. This is the same thing that happens to your hair, more or less.
Don't forget, we are supposed to lose our hair all the time. It's just a natural part of how hair grows. When a hair is getting longer and you have to go to your barber to get a cut the hairs that are longer than you like them to be are in the anagen state of growth. Different dermatologists will give you different answers but if you ask how long this phase is you'll usually get an answer of two to four years. But all good things must come to an end and the same is true for hair. There eventually comes a phase called "catagen" and this is a short period in which the hair shaft separates from the hair bulb (the bottom of the hair where the nutrients come in). This period is short and lasts for a few weeks before the final phase of hair growth called "telogen". Telogen is the part of the cycle where you freak out in the shower. Yes, the hair is falling out but again this is normal and it doesn't mean you're actually losing your hair. You're just letting these hairs go on a long vacation because in about three or five months the anagen phase will start up again and a new hair will take the place of the old hair and all will be right with the world. This process is happening hundreds or even thousands of times every day and at any given time approximately 10% to 20% of all the hair on your head is in the telogen state and gone or about to be gone. That's why it is normal to lose a couple hundred hairs every single day, seen or unseen.
So there you go. Hair loss is a normal part of life even for those jerks that have full heads of hair and zero visible loss. They're losing their hair too but the difference is that all of it is coming back for them and not all of it is coming back for you.
The History of Surgical Hair Restoration