If you’re a gentleman who’s been noticing a receding hairline or is worried about balding, the first step is to schedule a visit with a doctor or dermatologist and make sure your hair loss isn’t a sign of a more serious health issue. “Not all hair loss is male-pattern hair loss,” explains Dr. Marc Glashofer, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss and practicing in northern New Jersey. A thyroid disorder, an autoimmune disease, or even a scalp issue could be making you look like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2. But most hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness, and fortunately (or not, depending on your perspective), it’s just a symptom of getting older.
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Low ferritin (the stored form of iron) is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Given low ferritin is also a common problem for hypothyroid people, it is important to have iron testing including ferritin especially if you are experiencing hair loss. It is not enough to be told by your doctor that your iron levels are ‘normal’. Ferritin levels are not always tested. Get a copy of your lab results and be sure ferritin has been specifically tested. Even if ferritin is within the ‘normal’ range that doesn’t make it ‘optimal’.
Correct ferritin levels maximize your hair’s “anagen” or “growing” phase and encourage your hairs to grow to their full length. When you aren’t getting enough iron through your diet, your body takes ferritin stored in non-essential tissue, like your hair bulb, and gives it to essential tissue, such as your heart. Because your hair bulb is where all your hair cells are produced, this leeching of ferritin can cause your hair to shed before it reaches its maximum length.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is available over the counter and available in 2%, 4%, and 5% concentrations. It may be something of a nuisance to apply twice daily, but it has been shown to help conserve hair and may even grow some. Minoxidil tends to grow very fine small hairs wherever it is applied. It is important to avoid running the liquid onto the face or neck where it can also grow hair. It is marketed for women at the 2% concentration but may be used in higher strengths as directed by a doctor.
Surgery: Men tend to be better candidates for surgical hair-replacement techniques because their hair loss is often limited to one or two areas of the scalp. Procedures include grafting, which transplants from one to 15 hairs per disc-shaped graft to other locations. Scalp reduction removes bald skin from the scalp so hair-covered scalp can be stretched to fill in the bald areas. Side effects include swelling, bruising and headaches.
The general medical consensus around laser treatments — caps and combs alike — is that low-level laser light therapy stimulates the cells within the hair follicle. These devices may also increase cell metabolism to promote thicker and more durable hair shafts, something that neither minoxidil or finasteride can do. To use the HairMax Ultima, all you have to do is glide the device over your scalp slowly. Treatments should take about eight minutes, and you should do it three days per week for the best results.
Herbal hair supplements are designed to “supplement,” or work together with, a healthy diet, not replace it. However, it’s also important to recognize that the fast pace of life doesn’t always allow for making meals from scratch every day. If you find it hard to meet the recommended daily amounts nutrients because of a tight schedule, you’re definitely not alone.
As they age, men tend to lose the hair on top of their head, which eventually leaves a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the sides. This type of hair loss is called male-pattern baldness. It's caused by genes (from both parents -- the idea that men take after their mother's father is a myth) and it's fueled by the male hormone, testosterone. In female-pattern baldness, the hair loss is different -- it thins throughout the top of the scalp, leaving the hair in front intact.
And though this treatment appears to be safe and somewhat effective, it’s hard to tell who will react well to this low-level light therapy, which is why the doctors I spoke with were hesitant to fully endorse it. “We’re not sure what the optimal power is, what the optimal wavelength is, we don’t even really know the mechanism of action of how this is working,” says Rieder. Plus, it doesn’t work on everyone. “There are subpopulations of patients who do respond to low-level laser light, but this is not easily predictable,” explains McMichael, though she adds that the risk of using the LaserComb is low.
Promote natural hair growth by eating a good hair loss diet. Here are five of the top foods for hair growth, including nuts (which contain omega-3 fatty acids, biotin, vitamin E and copper), oysters (rich in zinc), sweet potatoes (omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and vitamins A, B, C, K and E), eggs (a good source of protein, plus biotin, other B vitamins, zinc, selenium, sulfur and iron), and spinach (iron, beta-carotene, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C).
This makes finding reliable information a challenge, and to further complicate matters, successful hair loss treatment doesn’t come in the form of a quick fix. It’s something that takes time to work – usually a couple of months – and requires consistency and dedication. A lot of people simply quit because they don’t see major results in the first couple of weeks and assume that the treatment doesn’t work .
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Harklinikken does not advertise, but the 25-year-old multinational company is beginning an aggressive expansion into the $3.6 billion hair-loss market in the United States, meaning you’re likely to hear a lot more about it. A New York clinic opened in June inside the Core Club in Midtown (you don’t need to be a member to get an appointment); and in August, Harklinikken consultations became available at some 70 Women’s Care Florida obstetrics and gynecology clinics. (Roughly 75 percent of the company’s 50,000 active users are female.)