Why do men lose their hair? By far the most common cause of hair loss in men is male pattern balding (MPB). MPB is an inherited sensitivity (from either side of the family) to dihydrotestosterone (DHT, a by-product of testosterone). This sensitivity occurs in a pattern that usually involves the front “temple areas” and the crown and, in severe cases, continues over the whole scalp. It never affects the hair at the back of the head (horseshoe area). 

Dr Catherine Davies
Dr Catherine Davies

Do vitamins and supplements that claim to help grow hair really help? Vitamins and minerals may keep existing hair in good condition but will not stem the progression of MPB. There are certain substances that inhibit the production of DHT, which may have a mild protective effect on MPB and they include saw palmetto, beta sitosterol and nettle root. 

And shampoo and topical treatments? The only FDA-approved topical treatment for hair loss is Minoxidil, which, if used, needs to be applied twice a day, indefinitely. Some non-prescription products can help slow down loss, such as Stemoxydine from L’Oreal.

And as a last resort? What is your recommendation? If a patient wants to make a permanent change, we offer hair transplant surgery. Our clinic specialises in a technique known as FUE (follicularunit extraction), which gives a dense, natural result without leaving a linear scar in the donor area (think Joshua Doore). Follicular units (small groups of hairs) are removed one bone from the donor area (using a 1mm punch) and are then transplanted into areas where thickening is needed, without cutting or stitching, rather redistributing your “wealth” fromthe back of the head (which is usually thick) to desired areas.

What else should we know? Lastly, when losing hair the best thing you can do is to cut it short and see if you are comfortable with doing nothing. Then, never grow a combover or have a cover-up hair style! Plus, never experiment with anabolic steroids, as they encourage DHT levels to skyrocket, leading to early hair loss. There is more to life than your hairline, but if hair loss bothers you, there are options. 

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For more info on hair loss, including FUE, visit rejuvnation.co.za, e-mail hairdocza@gmail.com or call Dr Catherine Davies’ clinic on 011 440 9664.

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