Most men experience at least some degree of hair loss in their lifetime, with the numbers increasing continuously with age. By their late 20’s, approximately 12% of men experience some hair loss. By the time a man is in his 50’s, he has a greater than 50% chance of displaying some genetic baldness. See the chart at the bottom of the page for a view of how the incidence of male pattern baldness increases with a person’s age.
The psychological effects of male hair loss vary greatly, with some people barely paying attention to their thinning hair, while others being affected so severely that even a small amount of hair loss can limit their ability to feel comfortable in social situations and prevent their normal functioning at work. It is important that those who are having unusual difficulty dealing with their hair loss receive psychological support or counseling as well as medical treatment.
Causes of Hair Loss in Men
By far the most common cause of hair loss in men is androgenetic alopecia, also referred to as “male pattern” or “common” baldness. It is caused by the effects of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on genetically susceptible scalp hair follicles. DHT causes male hair loss by shortening the growth, or anagen, phase of the hair cycle, causing miniaturization (decreased size) of the follicles and producing progressively shorter, finer hairs until they eventually disappear. Read more about the Causes of Hair Loss In Men.
Classification of Male Pattern Baldness
The Norwood classification, published in 1975 by Dr. O’tar Norwood, is the most widely used classification for hair loss in men. It defines two major patterns and several less common types. In the regular Norwood pattern, two areas of hair loss–a bitemporal recession and thinning crown–gradually enlarge and coalesce until the entire front, top and crown (vertex) of the scalp are bald. Read more about the Classification of Hair Loss in Men.
Diagnosis of Hair Loss in Men
Scalp through densitometer: normal scalp on left, scalp with miniaturization on right
The diagnosis of androgenetic alopecia in men is generally straightforward. It is made by observing a “patterned” distribution of hair loss and confirmed by observing the presence of miniaturized hair in the areas of thinning. Miniaturization – the progressive decrease of the hair shaft’s diameter and length in response to androgens – can be observed using a densitometer. Read more about the Diagnosis of Hair Loss in Men.
Treatment for Hair Loss in Men
Hair Loss Medication
There are a number of medical treatments that can postpone male hair loss or reverse it in its early stages. Medical treatments have improved dramatically over the years, particularly with the introduction of the topical medication minoxidil (Rogaine) in 1982 and the oral medication finasteride (Propecia) in 1998. Read about these in the section on medical treatment for hair loss.
Surgical Hair Restoration
Surgical hair transplant procedures have also developed over time, from the old “pluggy” methods — which used large, unnatural-looking grafts of hair — to the modern hair transplant techniques of Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) where hair is transplanted in a way that produces completely natural results. Dr. Bernstein pioneered these two procedures which are now used by hair transplant surgeons around the world. Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration is the first hair restoration facility on the East Coast to use a Robotic FUE system. Follow the post-op course of one our hair transplant patients below.
See many more before and after hair transplant photos in our patient photo galleries.
There have been a number of advances made towards enabling doctors to clone a person’s hair; however, obstacles still remain. Over the next decade we look forward for further progress in the basic science and clinical research of hair cloning with the goal of restoring a person’s full head of hair. Visit the hair cloning research page for the latest updates.