The most common type of hair loss in men is ‘androgenetic alopecia' or ‘male pattern baldness' and it affects around fifty per cent of males at some time in their life, usually after they reach the big 5-0. Nearly all men are affected to some degree by the time they reach their 60s.
Typically hair starts to recede at the temples and gets thinner on top resulting in a bald patch which over time spreads either leaving a band around the back of the head or nothing at all. In many cases it can take up to 25 years to go bald but in could happen in fewer than five years.
Male Pattern Baldness in Women
What you may not realise is that women can be affected by male pattern baldness too. Although less openly discussed, a substantial number of women experience hair loss on the crown, around 13% before menopause and 75% after the age of 65.
Why does the hair suddenly start to thin and eventually disappear?
There is a cycle of hair production, shedding and regrowth that lasts about 3 years, but when the follicles responsible for producing the new hair become smaller and produce much thinner hair. And to compound the situation, the new thinner hair doesn't last as long before it is shed. Eventually the follicles and the hairs become so thin that they actually penetrate the skin's surface – which results in baldness.
In short, testosterone affects the follicles and causes them to shrink, but it's a mystery why body or facial hair is not affected or why certain areas on the head tend to go first.
Hair loss is hereditary (the gene was discovered in 2008) and usually it is nothing to worry about health wise, however in some cases it can be a symptom of other issues such as diabetes, blood pressure or high cholesterol, particularly if male's start to lose hair at a very young age. And in women for the male pattern baldness, they need to check that there are no underlying issues behind the increase in male hormone levels.
Some people treat male pattern baldness as part of the natural aging process and others find it deeply distressing.
What can be done in male pattern baldness?
There are several non-surgical options available both over the counter and on prescription but the most effective treatment is a hair transplant.
Transplants today needn't be painful or time consuming the most up to date methods such as follicular unit transplants (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE) are both carried out under local anaesthetic and mild sedation as an out-patient.
Hair transplant and restoration specialist Dr.Panno based in Marbella is a pioneer in this field as he uses a tricholphytic closure suture to ensure that there is no scarring.