Of all the things that may run in your family, hair loss is probably not one of the most desirable traits. It is, however, something that should be monitored and addressed as you mature in order to preserve and maintain a full head of hair.
Both men and women can often trace their own hair loss to a condition known as androgenetic alopecia or – to put it in layman’s terms – hereditary hair loss. It’s the most common cause of balding, and it’s a genetic characteristic you can inherit from either side of your family.
The seven stages of hair loss
Technically, androgenetic alopecia is not a disease, but rather a physical trait – just like eye color or height. And, for that reason, it can only be treated, not cured.
Most women who have androgenetic alopecia experience diffuse thinning on all areas of their scalp with an emphasis on the temples and frontal portion of the scalp. Men, however, tend to have more distinct patterns of baldness.
Below is the Norwood Hamilton Scale, which illustrates seven stages measuring the severity and pattern of hair loss:
Stage 1: No significant hair loss or recession of hairline.
Stage 2: Evidence of minor recession of hairline around the temples.
Stage 3: Initial signs of clinically significant hair loss, such as recession at both temples resembling an N, U, or V shape. Stage 3 vertex indicates hairline stays at Stage 2, but there’s significant hair loss on the top of the scalp.
Stage 4: Hairline recession is more significant than Stage 2 with sparse or no hair on the vertex. The two areas are separated by a band of hair connected to remaining hair on the sides of the scalp.
Stage 5: Both areas of hair loss are larger than Stage 4, still separated, but the band between them is narrower and sparser.
Stage 6: The balding areas of the temples join the balding vertex with the band of hair across the top of the head gone or sparse.
Stage 7: Only a band of hair around the head remains.
What other factors influence androgenetic alopecia?
Although it is hereditary, not all the blame for androgenetic alopecia rests with one’s ancestors. Like pouring gasoline on a fire, other factors can prompt the genetic expression of hair loss in both men and women. These include:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Lifestyle (illness, recent surgery, emotional trauma, a poor diet, protein deprivation)
- Certain medications, such as amphetamines, antithyroid drugs, no-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), retinoids, and tricyclic antidepressants.
What Solutions are Available to Treat Androgenetic Alopecia?
While there is no way to change your genetic makeup, there are ways to manage androgenetic alopecia and some of the factors that can contribute to hereditary hair loss.
Treatment options include blocking the genetic influences on hair follicles with products such as finasteride (e.g. Proscar, Propecia) or minoxidil (e.g. Rogaine) or with low-level laser therapy. Each is designed to protect your hair follicles at risk for further or future decline.
Also, the non-genetic factors listed above can be modulated by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, balancing your hormones, or changing your medications, among other options.
Depending on the aggressiveness of your hair loss, miniaturized hair follicles can be renewed with scalp injection therapy, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP), ACell+PRP, or AmnioFix+PRP, or with regenerative stem cell therapy. Bald and thinning areas can be restored with hair transplant surgical options including follicular unit excision (FUE) and follicular unit hair transplant (FUT),
What Can You Do About Androgenetic Alopecia?
If hair loss runs in your family, you don’t have to live with androgenetic alopecia. At Northwest Hair Restoration in Tacoma, Seattle, and Spokane, we offer all of the options mentioned above and can provide an effective treatment that is tailored to your specific situation.
Whether you’re ready for an all-out hair transplant or you would really rather try topical treatments first, we have a number of different options you can try. Everyone is different, and Dr. Robert Niedbalski will evaluate your particular hair loss to determine the best long-term solution.
To learn more, contact us at Northwest Hair Restoration today by calling us at (253) 572-2949 to arrange a consultation with Dr. Niedbalski. Or, if you prefer, use our convenient online Request an Appointment form right now to get started. We look forward to seeing you!