in Bucks County, PA, and Hunterdon County, NJ
What Are the Causes of Hair Loss?
There are several different factors that cause different types of hair loss in men and women. One of the most common types of hair loss, alopecia, is a condition that's characterized by sudden hair loss due to natural causes. It's natural for humans to shed up to 100 hairs each day, but the hairs that are lost are usually replaced by new hair growth. Baldness and thinning are characterized by the body's inability to replace lost hairs with an equivalent number of new hair follicles. A number of factors can affect the body's ability to regrow new hair, including illnesses, certain medications, genetics, medical conditions, and hormonal changes. If you suffer from permanent hair loss, Buinewicz Plastic Surgery is the advanced hair restoration center that can restore your hair and confidence.
Pinpointing the exact trigger that has caused your hair loss is key to determining the proper course of treatment and delivering your desired outcome. Hair loss can be linked to any number of triggers, and Dr. Buinewicz has developed a thorough hair loss examination process, which includes careful evaluation of the hair and scalp, to accurately determine the cause of hair loss in his patients. In cases where the exact hair loss trigger is difficult to determine, Dr. Buinewicz may biopsy the scalp tissue to determine a more accurate diagnosis.
How Much Shedding Is Normal?
Scalp hair grows in a three-stage cycle, which includes:
- The Anagen Stage - the active period of the hair growth cycle where individual hairs grow about half an inch each month in younger men and women. As we age, the growth rate tends to slow down in the anagen stage.
- The Telogen Stage - the dormant stage where the hair stops growing and remains at rest for several months.
- The Shedding Stage - the stage in which dormant hairs shed from the hair follicle. Fifty to 100 hairs are naturally lost each day due to shedding.
Eight-five to 90 percent of human hair is actively growing, or in the anagen stage, at any given point, while the remaining 10 to 15 percent is dormant in the telogen stage. Once the hair has remained dormant in the telogen stage, it then transitions into the shedding stage and falls out of the follicle. This resting and shedding period can last anywhere from two to six months. Once the hair has shed, the follicle then transitions into the anagen stage and repeats the hair growth cycle with a new hair. Each hair follicle goes through the hair growth process independently and at different times.
Male/Female Pattern Baldness: Androgenic Alopecia
Unfortunately, hair loss in men and women is most often linked to a factor that is beyond our control — genetics. Androgenic alopecia is the medical term for a genetic predisposition for hair loss that can be linked to a family history of hair loss in a person's maternal or paternal lineage. The earliest signs of androgenic alopecia tend to occur between the ages of 20 and 30. There is no cure for this condition, and hair loss can be either temporary or permanent and lead to complete baldness. However, with early detection, treatment is possible and usually highly effective.
High levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a derivative of the male hormone testosterone, is often the culprit behind androgenic alopecia. Normal levels of DHT actually supports hair growth, but a genetic sensitivity to DHT can cause certain areas of the scalp to absorb DHT over, leading to thinning and baldness of the hair. Excessive levels of DHT shortens the hair growth cycle, causing the hair follicle to shrink and only produce thinner, more fragile hair. When the hair follicles are exposed to high levels of DHT over time, they become severely damaged and eventually stop producing new hairs. In the event that new hairs do develop from the damaged follicles, they tend to be extremely thin and light in color, which is a condition known as "vellus hair”. High levels of DHT also forces more hair follicles into the resting and shedding stages than normal, relative to the percentage of hairs in the active growth stage.
In the more advanced stages of hair loss, the blood flow to thinning areas of the hair becomes severely restricted. The loss of blood flow causes the scalp to contract, which activates the oil glands in the scalp. This combination of restricted blood flow and increased oil production explains why balding areas of the scalp appear so shiny.
Other Causes of Hair Loss
Androgenic alopecia is just one of many factors that can lead to hair loss. Hair loss can also be caused by:
- Alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin condition that leaves large, round, bald spots in some or all areas of the body. This condition affects both men and women, causing their hair to fall out in round patches on the scalp and all over the body. Steroids are often used to slow the loss of hair and possibly regrow the hair.
- Pregnancy can trigger hair loss by increasing the percentage of hairs that go into the resting or telogen stage. Even after childbirth, new mothers may experience increased shedding anywhere from one to six months, this is known as postpartum shedding. This is a normal side effect of childbirth, and the hair growth cycle will return to its normal state in most cases.
- Many health conditions that are associated with high fever, such as the flu, can trigger temporary hair loss. The hair loss can last anywhere from four weeks to three months after the illness has resolved, but the hair growth cycle will eventually return to normal without medical intervention.
- Overactive and under-active thyroid disorders can trigger hair loss in both men and women. The hair loss usually resolves itself when the thyroid condition is addressed with the proper course of treatment.
- Vitamin and nutritional deficiencies can trigger hair loss, especially in instances where protein and iron levels are insufficient. When the body doesn't receive the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients, it responds by stopping all bodily functions that aren't necessary for survival, such as hair growth. Low iron levels, medically known as anemia, is a common cause of hair loss in women who experience heavy menstruation. Supplementing your diet and adopting healthier eating habits will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to reverse the hair loss.
- Many commonly prescribed medications have been linked to temporary hair loss. Blood thinners, blood pressure medications, medications used to treat heart conditions, antidepressants, and arthritis medications are the types of drugs that are most often linked to hair loss. Even taking in more than the prescribed dose of certain supplements, such as Vitamin A and selenium, can lead to temporary hair loss.
- Medications that are used to treat many types of cancer can interfere with the hair growth cycle at the cellular level. Many cancer patients experience a loss of 90 percent or more of their hair for up to three weeks following cancer treatment. However, once treatments are complete, the hair will regrow thicker and healthier.
- Birth control pills with a high concentration of the hormone progestin can accelerate hair loss in women who have a family history of hair loss. If your oral contraceptive is causing hair loss, consult with your gynecologist or primary doctor for a birth control pill with lower levels of progestin.
- Major surgical procedures can induce shock and trigger hair loss in some patients. However, the loss of hair following major surgery is usually temporary, and the hair growth cycle will return to normal over the course of four weeks to three months.
- Chronic illnesses can cause types of hair loss that require medical treatment to regrow the hair. Even when the chronic illness is under control and well-managed, the body may still lose hair at a faster rate than it can replace it through the hair growth cycle.
- Traction alopecia is a type of gradual alopecia that results from constant tension or pulling on the hair. Traction alopecia occurs over time in places where the pulling force on the hair is the greatest. For example, women who constantly wear tight ponytails tend to experience traction alopecia on the sides of the scalp.
- Trichotillomania is an anxiety or impulse control disorder that causes sufferers to pull out their own hair. Children are most often affected by this condition, but it can persist and even develop well into adulthood. The condition is often misdiagnosed as alopecia areata, but unlike alopecia areata, trichotillomania sufferers often have lots of stubble or broken mid-shaft hairs.
- Fungal growths that cause round, scaly patches on the skin, such as ringworm, can lead to hair loss on the scalp in a donut-shaped pattern. Proper hygiene is the best way to prevent ringworm and subsequent hair loss, but once the condition is treated, the hair in the affected area will return to its normal growth cycle.
- Over-processing the hair with chemicals, such as bleach, hair dye, and relaxers can weaken the hair, causing it to become fragile and break easily. Stopping or reducing chemical processing will give the hair the break it needs to strengthen and return to a healthy state. Brushing the hair vigorously and even washing it too often will make the hair more susceptible to damage and breakage. Dr. Buinewicz encourages patients to be extra careful and gentle when handling their hair while it's wet because it's more susceptible to damage and breakage in its wet state.
- Stein-Leventhal syndrome, which is more commonly known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), is a condition that affects up to 10 percent of childbearing women. The condition has been linked to a hormonal imbalance, most specifically an abnormal amount of testosterone, which can cause uncontrollable weight gain, insulin resistance, irregular menstrual periods, excessive body and facial hair, and male pattern baldness. Medical researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of PCOS, but research suggests that genetics and high insulin levels may trigger the condition.
- Hyperinsulinemia is a condition characterized by high insulin levels in the blood, which has been linked to male pattern baldness in men and women with diets high in refined sugars and starches. Early research suggests that dietary changes and medications, such as Metformin and Rezulin, can lower the levels of insulin circulating in the blood and slow or stop male pattern baldness in hyperinsulinemia sufferers.
- Sun exposure is the leading cause of many types of skin cancer, and Australian researchers have recently linked overexposure to UV rays to thinning and balding of the hair. Research has shown that excessive and sustained exposure to the sun can damage the hair follicles and lead to progressive thinning and balding of the scalp hair. People who have undergone hair transplantation procedures are the most susceptible to sun-related hair loss. To protect the hair and scalp from UV radiation, Dr. Buinewicz recommends that patients apply sunscreen to their scalp and protect their hair and scalp with a wide-brimmed hat.
What Is the Cost of Hair Loss Treatment in Bucks County, PA?
Hair loss is a condition that is linked to a range of causes, which is why Dr. Buinewicz customizes treatments to the individual needs and desired outcome of each patient. Dr. Buinewicz will examine your scalp to determine the exact cause of your hair loss and recommend the best course of treatment during a one-on-one consultation. Following your consultation, you'll meet with our patient coordinator and receive a detailed breakdown of your treatment costs and the available payment options. We accept cash, personal checks, and major credit cards, as well as financing to make our advanced hair restoration treatments more affordable for our patients.
Dr. Buinewicz is a hair restoration specialist who offers a range of hair solutions for the men and women of Hunterdon County, NJ, and Bucks County, PA. If you want to reverse your hair loss and regain your hair and confidence, contact Buinewicz Plastic Surgery at either our Doylestown, PA, or Flemington, NJ, office to schedule your hair restoration consultation with Dr. Buinewicz today.