Men's Health | May 29, 2014 | Author: The Super Pharmacist
Hair loss is a problem that affects tens of millions of people in the world. With almost a million recorded individuals seeking hair loss treatment around the world(1), it is evident that hair loss is becoming problematic in both men and women. Fortunately, a number of treatment options exist in Australia that can help individuals find help for hair loss. This article aims to not only view the problem in a glance but also view the various treatment options available to Australians.
As the name suggests, hair loss is the loss of hair from the scalp and is more commonly referred to as male or female pattern baldness. While most common in individuals above the age of 60(2), the symptoms usually surface with in their 30's. While age plays a major factor, other factors include, but are not limited to:
The condition can affect anyone and is usually noted when hair begins thinning towards the top of the head and the side of the eyebrows. In women, it begins towards the rear and front of the head. In due time, bald patches appear. Fortunately, Australians have access to a wide range of treatment options, including medicinal and surgical treatments and lifestyle changes.
Australians have access to a number of medicinal treatments including the use of finasteride, minoxidil, dutasteride, corticosteroids injections and antiandrogens (primarily for women).
Finasteride is known to block the Type-II-5-alpha-reductase enzyme that usually converts the body’s natural testosterone to DHT, or dihydrotestosterone. Available only with a prescription, finasteride is a relatively effective method of treating hair loss, with 27% of the male respondents citing extreme satisfaction with the benefits of the medications(3). Another report has cited finasteride - one tablet every day for up to 8 months, as an effective hair loss treatment(4) (primarily prevention). Finasteride is known to cause a number of side effects such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido and myopathy.
Unlike finasteride, minoxidil (available as a topical lotion) is used primarily to help grow hair and is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) option. According to the above study, minoxidil - massaged into the scalp twice daily - proved to be less effective than finasteride(5). However, it proved to be more effective in individuals recently diagnosed with hair loss. The use of minoxidil is recommended as an on-going treatment option to provide maximum results. While the mode of action is unclear, it is presumed minoxidil acts as a nitric oxide agonist, potassium-channel opener and a vasodilator. The net effect helps transport more blood to the follicles on the head. Individuals who used minoxidil displayed side effects similar to those taking Finasteride, such as erectile dysfunction and myopathy with less severity.
Dutasteride works in a similar manner to finasteride with a minor exception. While finasteride blocks Type-II-5-alpha-reductase enzyme, dutasteride works by blocking the Type-I variant as well. This increased blocking capacity enables dutasteride to act as a more potent medication for hair loss. In fact, research has shown dutasteride to be more effective than finasteride(6). This makes it a viable option for men who have not experienced the beneficial effects of finasteride. While the medication may be more effective than finasteride, it has also been shown to increase the chances of side effects occurring. Possible side effects include, but are not limited to, tender breasts, impotence, reduced libido and decreased ejaculatory semen.
Corticosteroid injections work to reduce inflammation when injected directly into patches where hair is absent. As such, corticosteroid injections, such as betamethasone, are a good option for hair loss, resulting in initial hair growth within 4 weeks(7) with an injection almost every month. In fact, the same study states that monthly injections in a study on Saudi Arabian participants shows that 63% of recipients had a full head of hair by the end of the study.
Antiandrogens work by inhibiting androgen receptors from biding to the surface of a cell. In other words, it helps to reduce the effect of the male hormones in the body. Research has shown signs that it can help stunt the progression of female hair loss and, in some cases, cause regrowth(8). Common antiandrogens include spironolactone and cyproterone. Most antiandrogens, such as spironolactone, are administered orally for 4 days up to 4 weeks.
Medicinal treatments only form a part of a complete treatment plan. Most hair loss medication is accompanied by recommended lifestyle changes that include a balanced diet and plenty of rest and exercise. A research study spanning 6 months revealed that lifestyle and dietary changes can help not only slow down hair loss but also improve hair growth(9). As such, core 3 lifestyle changes are recommended as part of any complete hair loss treatment in Australia.
At least 45 minutes of various light to moderate cardio exercises is recommended, along with 15 minutes of strength and resistance training.
Many treatment centres in Australia will recommend a number of dietary changes that help introduce protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and carbohydrates from a wide variety of plant sources. These changes also remove almost all alcohol and artificial sweetened, processed, fried and preserved foods. In many cases, dietary supplementation is recommended in order to make the lives of individuals easier and ensure that they receive the proper nutrients. Of course, each diet is unique and is created based on a number of factors such as an individual’s sex, age, weight, ethnicity and affordability.
One of the primary causes of hair loss in both men and women is dramatic and stressful events in their life such as childbirth, employment stresses, surgery and various other life-changing events(10). Addressing these issues can reduce hair loss among other benefits.
With almost a million people around the world seeking professional hair loss treatment(11), surgical treatment may be the final or first line of treatment for many sufferers. With new surgical procedures available such as follicle cloning(12), Australians can look forward to more effective hair surgery. The most common surgical treatments are:
Hair replacement is a surgical procedure where specialists analyse the scalp, identifying areas where hair is missing or thinning. Real human hair is then added to your scalp, often in grafts of separate strands. The result is clean, strong and natural-looking hair that is, in most cases, difficult to identify as surgically added hair. Most treatment centres offer patients the choice of either single or progressive replacement. In other words, patients have the choice either to have the replacement done in a single session or gradually to give the look of natural growth.
While Australians have access to a variety of different hair transplant methods, 2 methods are the most common. This is primarily due to the availability of the procedures, their results and cost. Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) - This surgical method is more widely accepted because it is less invasive and more affordable for most individuals. The transplantation relies on strips that contain grafts of hair being removed from donor areas, often the back of your scalp, and transplanted on the needed areas. This type of transplantation surgery enables fewer visits and larger areas of hair to be covered. Moreover, at an average range of $5 to $10 for each graft used, it is more affordable than follicular unit extraction (FUE). However, there is a chance of linear scarring and the recovery time can be painful. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) – An advanced method of hair extraction, this method of hair transplantation relies on extracting individual grafts and inserting them into the scalp. It provides superior results in relation to FUT, eliminates linear scaring and provides dramatically reduced recovery times. Since FUE is significantly more time consuming than FUT, Australians can find themselves making numerous and longer visits to their surgeon. Additionally, considering the nature of the FUE meathod, the training of the surgeon, staff required and equipment used, Australians will likely pay an average of $8 to $15 for each graft extracted.