8 Biggest Hair Loss Myths (But the Best Treatments For It)
Jager Weatherby on 24 Sep 2014 at 4:00pm
After reading hundreds of hair transplant reviews on RealSelf, it’s clear that suffering from hair loss can do a real number on a person’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, the desire to keep or regain a head of hair has led many people to false facts and snake oil marketing on alopecia, from the things that cause baldness to the best ways to treat it.
RealSelf spoke with Miami plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a doctor with extensive experience in hair transplantation, to get the real truth behind the biggest hair loss myths.
MORE: The Battle Against Balding: 5 Ways to Get More Hair
Myth #1: Hair loss stops at middle age.
Unfortunately, both male and female pattern hair loss is progressive, and it continues for a lifetime.
Myth #2: Wearing hats causes hair loss.
Nearly all cases of pattern hair loss are due to genetics, not wearing a hat. Occasionally there are other medical causes that affect the hair follicles beneath the surface of the skin.
MORE: The Common Causes of Hair Loss
Myth #3: Hair transplants always look obvious.
With the advent of microscopic Follicular Unit Grafting (FUG), a technique in which a strip of skin is removed from a donor site (like the back of the head) and cut into individual units, it’s possible to create results that do not resemble a transplant.
Myth #4: Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) is always the preferable method.
FUE is a minimally invasive method that uses a small instrument to remove tiny groups of one to four hairs. While it’s a wonderful procedure for many men (and occasionally women), it’s not necessarily a replacement for the FUG or strip procedure, discussed above. In patients with fine donor hair (particularly women with widespread thinning), FUE can be inferior to a strip procedure. The main advantage of FUE is that it completely avoids any incision scar at the donor site — but it’s important to note that this scar is typically only visible if the head is shaved.
MORE: Follicular Unit Extraction or Strip Grafting: Which Procedure Is Better For Hair Transplantation?
Myth #5: The best way to do a hair transplant procedure is with one of several devices such as NeoGraft or ARTAS.
These devices — one mechanized (NeoGraft) and the other robotic (ARTAS) — can help doctors remove and transplant follicles in the FUE procedure, but they aren’t the only ways it can be done. Hair follicles can be extracted with a variety of handheld drills. That said, drills will never be able to replace the artistry of hairline design!
Myth #6: Hair transplants are only for the scalp.
This may be hard to believe, but the fastest area of growth in hair restoration for some surgeons is in non-scalp procedures. The most common areas are the beard, eyebrows, and chest.
MORE: Can Pubic Hair Be Used to Battle Balding?
Myth #7: Lasers and medication such as finasteride (commonly referred to as Propecia) are useless in battling hair loss.
Studies have found that both lasers and Propecia can be quite effective in the management of male and female pattern hair loss. They don’t usually regrow hair, but they can slow down — and even stop — the progression.
Myth #8: In five years, hair transplants will be made obsolete.
While a lot of research is going on with cell therapies (including stem cells and platelet-rich plasma), it’s all in the very early phases. To date, there has been little scientific proof attesting to the merit of these procedures. Stay tuned, though! Perhaps in 8 to 10 years they’ll become a part of the treatment.
To learn about more ways to tackle pattern baldness, head over to our Hair Loss Treatment community.
Photo credits: Collage courtesy of Dr. Samuel Lam; Some rights reserved by Hendrik van Leeuwen; Transplants courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Epstein