Hair Loss & Follicle Decline


Hair Loss In Men   |   Hair Loss In Women   |   Hair Loss Causes   |   Hair Loss Treatments

How can I ever forget my anguish with early hair loss?

My Experience with Hair Loss

I was a teenager and started to see some thinning in the front of my scalp.  It was 1979 and I had an Afro thick, curly head of blonde hair. Until then, my mop was massive! With creative styling, I found ways to make it look manageable. During football practice,  I simply tucked it all inside my helmet and used it as added cushioning.  No concussions for me!  But when I complained to my barber about the early hair loss, he just seemed to disregard the whole issue.  I never really discussed it with anybody else and just accepted it.

Many years later when I was in medical practice and I began taking the medication Finasteride. For a while I  suffered some of the negative side effects, quit the meds and ultimately benefited from having a nice hair transplant.  It was at this moment that I really began to take hair loss seriously and made a career choice by focusing on hair loss and hair restoration.

Dr John E Frank, MD is the Alopecia and Hair Follicle Surgeon and Assistant Clinical Professor of Otolaryngology at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.   He is also remembered as the former Tight End from 1984-1989 with the San Francisco Forty Niners.   He lives and works in New York City and Southern California and also has expanded his practice to include Central Ohio.

Patterned Hair Loss or Androgenic Alopecia

My hair loss experience occurred at an early age is so common that people often just consider it a normal part of aging (that is, until it drives you nuts).  It is called Pattern Hair Loss because it occurs in a well known pattern, receding in the front and on the top part of the crown, but never in the back nor above the ears. The other name for the problem is called Androgenic Alopecia simply because we know that the Androgen (Hormone) Testosterone is a big part of the problem.

Patterned Hair Loss In Men

In most men with hair loss, this is the cause.  Practically speaking, there are no lab tests,  xrays or anything else helpful in confirming the diagnosis. You see it, and you know what it is.

Patterned Hair Loss In Women

For women, it is more challenging.  First of all, the pattern of hair loss in  women with Androgenic Alopecia is somewhat different.  The hairline is left alone by the circulating Testosterone.  Instead, it causes a diffuse, widespread area of thinning.  We think this is also caused by circulating Testosterone, however the diagnosis is more difficult.  The more complex endocrine system creates challenges.  Unfortunately, hereditary clues are only partially helpful and a diagnosis in women may require blood testing, biopsies and certainly an experienced follicologist.

Conditions Causing Patterned Hair Loss

We are aware of many other conditions either causing permanent or temporary hair loss and negatively effecting the appearance of hair and scalp. The hair follicles may be damaged from both the inside and the out. Technically speaking, the causes of hair loss vary from the hormones mentioned above to other traumatic damage we may do while straightening our hair as well as other, unavoidable medical conditions.

Also, some things may just cause temporary hair loss while the hair recycles and regrows.  Nonetheless, this type of hair loss may be just as unsettling.

Treatments for Patterned Hair Loss

Fortunately, once a diagnosis is made, there really are good options for each type of hair loss.  Whether medicines, devices,  surgery and styling techniques,  we are learning more everyday.  Some dermatologists have a reasonably good understanding, but not all.  The most knowledgeable hair loss doctors are the experienced hair transplant doctors who are members of the ISHRS (as long as they are not trying to rush you into surgery).  Advice in the form of a diagnosis is the first step.

Many of the evaluations may be at no cost, however be prepared to spend something for the ongoing care from an effective doctor.  Plus exciting research is being done in the field of hair cell multiplication and genetics which may solve this problem once and for all.