WHAT IS PREMATURE
Premature hair loss is a genetic condition that affects men and women of all ages. In order to understand this condition, one must first understand the basic makeup of hair and its growth cycle.
Hair is made up of a protein called keratin that is produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin. As follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin at the rate of about six inches a year. The average adult has between 100,000 to 150,000 strands of hair on their head and loses approximately 100 each day.
Each hair follicle has its own life cycle that is divided into 3 phases: anagen, catagen and telogen. The anagen phase lasts between 2–6 yrs, which is when the hair is actively growing on the head. The catagen phase lasts between 2-3 weeks, at which time the hair stops growing.
The final stage, called the telogen phase, lasts for about 2-3 months. At the end of this final “resting stage,” the hair falls out and the process starts all over again.
The life cycle of the hair follicle can be influenced by a number of factors including age, disease, circulation, stress, hormones, lifestyle, diet, drug use, genetics and cosmetic procedures (such as perms, dyes, bleach, straighteners, extensions and other hair treatments).
Anything that reduces the blood and nutrient flow to the hair follicle can cause damage, which can result in hair loss or thinning.
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TYPES OF HAIR LOSS
There are several types of hair loss (also referred to as alopecia).
Telogen effluvium is temporary hair thinning when a large number of hairs enter the resting phase at the same time, causing hair shedding and subsequent thinning. This is a temporary condition, commonly witnessed in eyelash hair.
Trichotillomania is a psychological disorder in which a person pulls out one’s own hair due to stress or habit.
Alopecia universalis causes all body hair to fall out, including the eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic hair. It is believed to be the result of an autoimmune disorder and can happen at any age. Alopecia areata is sudden round and patchy hair loss, which may result in complete baldness (alopecia totalis). It is also believed to be associated with an autoimmune disorder, but in about 90% of people with the condition, the hair returns within a few years.
Androgenic alopecia is a genetic condition that affects both men and women. In men, it is often called male pattern baldness and may begin as early as their teens. The primary characteristics of male pattern baldness are a receding hairline and gradual disappearance of hair from the crown and frontal scalp. In women, this condition is called female pattern baldness and noticeable thinning usually doesn’t occur until their 40s or later. Women typically experience an overall thinning of hair on the entire scalp, with the most visible hair loss at the crown.
Involutional alopecia is the term for gradual thinning of hair due to age, when more follicles enter the resting phase, and the remaining hairs become shorter and fewer in number.
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TREATMENT FOR HAIR LOSS
People have been trying to reverse hair loss as far back as we know. An ancient Egyptian remedy called for reciting a spell to the sun god and then swallowing a mixture of onions, iron, red lead, honey and alabaster. Another encouraged rubbing the fat of various animals onto the scalp, including that of lions, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, ibex, serpents and geese.
To our knowledge, none of these are used as any kind of treatment for hair loss. Today, a variety of over the counter and prescription products are available to stimulate hair growth. Some, like Propecia and Minoxidil have been shown to have benefits and stimulate hair growth. However, most other products have never been shown to really work.
In the late 1950s, a physician named Norman Orentreich popularized the concept of transplanting hair from the back to the front of the scalp. He was following the research of a Japanese dermatologist who was the first to publish this technique in 1939.
Since then, hair transplant procedures have generally involved harvesting a strip of skin and hair from the back of the scalp, splitting the tissue into follicular units of one to four hairs and transplanting these follicular unit hair grafts into the areas of hair loss.
The technique is effective in that the transplanted hair grows well, but patients do wind up with a scar on the back of the head that is noticeable with short hairstyles. There is also a sensation of tightness in the area as well as some downtime and pain involved, since a large amount of skin is excised.
The Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) device was developed to help automate and simplify the hair transplant procedure. Instead of harvesting a strip of skin and dividing it into units, the surgeon can take individual follicular units from the back of the head and transplant them directly into the area of hair loss.
This way of harvesting grafts is called Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). The procedure now becomes much easier to tolerate with minimal pain or downtime, no scarring and no sensation of tightness. Patients can wear a short hairstyle and all signs of the procedure are gone within a few days.
Over 6000 successful Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) transplants have been performed in Asia and Europe with excellent results. Therefore, the FUE method is Dr. Rivkin’s recommendation for treating premature hair loss and thinning hair.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING
While FUE does avoid the risks and trauma associated with surgery, it may require several procedure sessions. About 1500 grafts can be harvested and transplanted per day, so most people need 1 to 2 sessions for optimal effect. Ultimately the amount of grafts needed depends on the patient’s degree of hair loss and on how dense the donor hair is.
Transplanted follicles collected by the FUE system generally take between three and five months to grow new hair. The results are gradual, which makes the procedure seem less obvious than surgical methods. FUE transplants mimic the original pattern of hair growth leaving patients with natural looking results.
Patients opting for FUE hair transplants do not require systemic anesthesia. Dr. Rivkin uses small amounts of local anesthetic, making the procedure virtually painless and allowing the patient to remain awake during the entire process.
Recovery time for hair loss treatment patients is minimal and in most cases patients can return to work within a day or two after undergoing the FUE treatment.
The cost for FUE hair transplant treatment is similar to that of traditional surgery. The results are permanent. After the procedure, patients are instructed to keep the area clean, avoid the sun and use antibiotic ointment.
Dr. Rivkin will be happy to answer any questions you may have about FUE transplants. During your consultation Dr. Rivkin can determine whether you are an ideal candidate for this innovative non-surgical hair loss treatment.
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