Hair loss or Alopecia is a very common but highly distressing issue that occurs in both men and women. Numerous studies have shown that hair loss affects self-confidence and is associated with depression and anxiety. Fortunately, there are numerous, non-surgical, treatment options that can help!
Important Note – Not all hair loss or alopecia is the same! If you are currently experiencing hair thinning or hair loss, you owe it to yourself to consult a board-certified dermatologist who is an expert in diagnosing and treating hair loss. This is critical as we often encounter patients who have either been evaluated elsewhere and been misdiagnosed or who have tried and failed numerous, expensive treatments with little to no scientific evidence. This can be costly and disheartening. In addition, time is critical when dealing with hair loss as early treatment provides the most effective results.
While there are many types of hair loss, they typically comprise two broad categories: Scarring and Non-Scarring.
Scarring Hair Loss (Cicatricial Alopecia)
Scarring hair loss is often the result of inflammation that damages hair follicles.
Common causes of scarring hair loss include:
- Inflammation Disorders (including, but not limited to, Discoid Lupus Erythematosus, Alopecia Mucinosa, Dissecting Cellulitis, Acne Keloidalis, Folliculitis Decalvans, and Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia)
- Hair Infections due to fungal agents
- Chemicals (such as harsh hair care products that contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)
- Although scarring hair loss is often irreversible, early diagnosis and treatment may possibly lead to regrowth.
Non-scarring Hair Loss (Non-scarring Alopecia)
Male and female pattern hair loss is the most common type of non-scarring hair loss.
It affects 80% of men and women in the course of their lifetime. This “hair loss” is a misnomer as the hair follicles are still present but gradual shrinking or miniaturization results in thinning hair and visible scalp. If diagnosed early, this type of hair loss can be effectively treated and hair growth can be restored.
Common causes of non-scarring hair loss include:
- Natural aging
- Stressor events leading to Telogen Effluvium (infections, hospitalizations, emotional stress)
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Medical conditions like thyroid disease
Hair Loss Treatment Options
During your consultation with Dr. Shyam, a detailed medical history and evaluation will be performed. In addition, blood work may be requested as part of the work up. Sometimes, a scalp biopsy may also be utilized to determine the cause of alopecia. Once Dr. Shyam has diagnosed the cause of the hair loss, a specific personalized treatment regimen will be formulated. This may include topical medications, oral medications, steroid injections or platelet-rich plasma therapy.
Minoxidil* – This FDA-approved medication stimulates hair follicles by increasing blood flow to expand the growth phase of hair follicles. This medication is most commonly referred to by its brand name, Rogaine.
Finasteride* – More commonly known as Propecia, this FDA-approved medication inhibits the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Excess levels of DHT in men results in miniaturization of hair follicles, and a prolonged dormant and shedding phase which manifests as classic pattern hair loss.
Photobiomodulation (Low Level Light Therapy) – An FDA-cleared device that emits low energy red light (~680nm wavelength) that stimulates the mitochondria (energy producing centers) of the hair cells to increase their growth factors and prolong the anagen growth phase.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) – An innovative multi-step treatment in which platelet-rich plasma from a patient’s own blood sample is injected into the scalp. These injections amplify the body’s natural growth factors to restore hair loss and support follicles for better hair growth. Main Line Dermatology is one of the few area practices that provides this promising new hair loss treatment performed by Dr. Shyam, an expert in the field.
CAUTION: Not all PRP treatments are the same. Experience matters!
*These treatment options are only partially effective (range from 40% to 60% efficacy) and have the potential for unwanted side effects. A complete history and evaluation are required prior to the recommendation of these medications.