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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
Hair Restoration Answers

Why Am I Losing Hair Despite Taking Avodart For Hair Loss?

Q: I am currently taking Avodart and have done so for around 8 months. Last night I had a significant loss of hair after taking a shower, nothing like I have ever seen before and found it very distressing. Can you tell me if this is hair loss or could it be something known as shedding and could you please tell me what is the difference between hair loss and hair shedding? — M.S., New York, NY

A: Hair loss is a very general term that can refer loss of hair for any reason. Genetic hair loss is caused by the effects of DHT on hair follicles that result in miniaturization -– i.e. a slowly progressive change in hair diameter that starts with visible thinning and that may gradually end in complete baldness. Hair shedding is more sudden where hair falls out due to a rapid shift of hair from its growth phase into the resting phase. The medical term for this is telogen effluvium. This process is usually reversible when the offending problem is stopped. It can be due to stress, medication, or other issues. You should see a dermatologist to figure out which process is going on. Dutasteride can cause some shedding when it first starts to work, but it would be unusual to do this after being on treatment for eight months.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can A Hair Transplant Cause Thinning?

Q: If you transplant grafts in between the thinned out areas, is there a risk of cutting previously normal roots, even if one is cautious? — J.S., Upper Saddle River, N.J.

A: Healthy hair can be temporarily shocked from a hair transplant and then shed (the process is called telogen effluvium) but it will not be permanently damaged.

Any healthy hair that is lost in this shedding process should re-grow.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Loss be Treated by Taking Vitamin Supplements?

Q: I have pretty significant hair loss. Should I take vitamins to help grow my hair back?

A: Although vitamin deficiencies are known to cause hair loss, there is little scientific evidence that shows that vitamin supplementation, in an otherwise healthy individual eating a well balanced diet, can prevent hair loss or improve the quality of one’s existing hair.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Stress Cause Diffuse Unpatterned Hair Loss (DUPA)?

Q: Can stress produce diffuse unpatterned hair loss (DUPA), or was it bound to happen anyway? — D.D., Park Slope, Brooklyn

A: Both DPA (diffuse patterned hair loss) and DUPA (diffuse unpatterned hair loss) are genetic conditions, unrelated to stress and would have happened anyway. These types of hair loss are characterized by a high percentage of mininiaturized hair in broad areas of the scalp. See the Classification of Hair Loss in Men and Classification of Hair Loss in Women pages on the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website for more information on this topic.

In contrast, stress generally presents as increased hair shedding, a reversible condition referred to as telogen effluvium. It is called this because the normal growing hair is shifted to a resting (telogen) phase before it temporarily falls out. Increased miniaturization is not associated with telogen effluvium.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Avodart Hair Loss Medication Cause Shedding?

Q: I’m male, early thirties and in the early stages of hair loss, too early for hair transplants. I am experiencing extreme shedding. I took Avodart for 6 weeks, but because of the shedding I stopped. Now, it still continues as strong as ever. I’ve been losing about 200 hairs every day in the shower. 3 months ago I had so much more hair, what is going on? I heard that shedding can happen, but not like this. Could this have caused telogen effluvium, or something else? — M.M., Boston, Massachussetts

A: Since Avodart (dutasteride) is a more potent medication than Propecia (finasteride), the shedding (telogen effluvium) may be more dramatic. If you have made a decision to use Avodart, then you need to tolerate this short-term effect. It should subside within the first 6 months on the drug.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Loss in Women be Caused by Pregnancy, Prozac, or Hyperactive Thyroid?

Q: I had a baby 12 weeks ago and have recently been diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid, although only slightly. I was also taking Prozac for 7-10 days. I am 27 and have been experiencing a significant amount of hair loss from all over my scalp. What are the chances that this would be permanent?

A: Based upon your history, you have three possible reasons for having a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium; thyroid disease, medication induced (Prozac) and pregnancy.

Telogen effluvium is diagnosed by a hair pull test and observing club hairs under the microscope. It is generally a reversible condition, regardless of the cause. Telogen effluvium most often occurs 2-3 months after the inducing event, so your pregnancy is the most likely cause. Prozac would less likely be the problem since you have only been on it for a short time. Besides causing Telogen effluvium, thyroid disease can also alter your hair characteristics, which can make your hair appear thinner.

Other causes of hair loss, such as genetic female pattern hair alopecia, must be ruled out. Please see the Hair Loss in Women page on the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website for more information.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Transplant Treat Chronic Telogen Effluvium?

Q: I am a 36 year old female who has been diagnosed with Chronic Telogen Effluvium. Although I do not have any bald spots yet my hair is much thinner on both of my temples as well as in the back of my head. Is a hair transplant an option for me or am I just going to shed the new hair as I am shedding my current hair? — R.K., Providence, R.I.

A: Since Chronic Telogen Effluvium is a generalized condition, it is not amenable to correction by a hair transplant. The reason is that there is no stable area to take donor hair from. Chronic TE is generally self-limited, so try to be patient.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Which Contributes More to Hair Loss: Stress or Genetics? [Updated]

Q: Can stress accelerate hair loss? I am 25 and there is balding on my dad’s side of the family. I never had any thinning or hair loss till this year. I guess you can say I’ve been under a lot of stress. When I did notice shortly after my 25th birthday I started stressing even more, which led to more hair loss. It is thinner up front and it is thin on top. I have heard of some hair docs mapping your head for miniaturization, do you do this too? — E.W., Miami, FL

A: Yes. The presence of miniaturization (decreased hair diameter) in the areas of thinning allows us to distinguish between hair loss due to heredity (i.e. androgenetic alopecia) — in which hair progressively decreases in diameter under the influence of DHT — and other causes. The degree of miniaturization can be assessed using a hand-held instrument called a densitometer.

The pattern of hair loss and the family history are also important in the diagnosis.

Stress more commonly produces telogen effluvium, a generalized shedding that is not associated with miniaturization and is often reversible without treatment.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Asymmetrical Hair Loss from Telogen Effluvium or Androgenetic Alopecia?

Q: Over the past three months, my hair seems to be thinning more on one side. Is it common in male pattern hair loss for it to be more on one side? I had a lot of stress about three months ago and have heard that this could be the cause. Is this possible? Should I use Rogaine to treat it? — B.R., Landover, MD

A: Regardless of the cause, hair loss is usually not perfectly symmetric. This applies to male pattern hair loss as well.

In your case, it is important to distinguish between telogen effluvium (shedding that can be due to stress) and hereditary or common baldness. The three month interval from the stressful period to the onset of hair loss is characteristic telogen effluvium, but you may have androgenetic alopecia as an underlying problem.

The two conditions are differentiated by identifying club hairs in telogen effluvium and miniaturized hair in androgenetic alopecia. In addition, a hair pull will be positive in telogen effluvium (when a clump of hair is grasped with the fingers, more than five hairs pull out of the scalp at one time) and will be negative in common baldness. The hair loss diagnosis can be made by a dermatologist.

Hair cuts do not affect either condition.

Rogaine (Minoxidil) is only effective in androgenetic hair loss and only marginally so. Finasteride is the preferred treatment if your hair loss is genetic when it is early and a hair transplant may be indicated if the hair loss progresses.

Shedding from telogen effluvium is reversible and does not require specific treatment.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Loss be Caused by Thyroid Problems or Fluctuations in Hormones?

Q: One of the things that I have noticed as a person who has needed to take thyroid medication for a long, long time, is that when my thyroid gets a little bit out of balance – when I’m not getting quite enough, I begin to notice is that my hair starts falling out. What about the role of thyroid for hair loss? — T.K., Mineola, NY

A: Both increases and decreases in thyroid levels can cause hair loss and changes in the levels of thyroid hormone can change the consistency of one’s hair. Elevated hormone levels cause scalp hair to be fine and soft, with diffuse thinning being relatively characteristic.

When thyroid hormone levels are low, the hair becomes dry, coarse, and brittle. Hair loss can be either patchy or diffuse (involving the entire scalp).

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Bernstein Medical In The News

NPR Interviews Dr. Bernstein on Hair Transplantation and Hair Loss

Here is one exchange from the interview:

Moderator: How one can tell the difference between hair loss from hormonal imbalances and common baldness?

Dr. Bernstein: Measuring hormone levels alone, although important for medical management, does not necessarily reveal whether the cause of the hair loss is actually hormone related or is genetic. The diagnosis is made by examining the scalp and looking at the hair under close magnification using an instrument called a “Densitometer.”

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