Androgenetic alopecia, better known as male pattern baldness, is a fact of life for millions of men. The most common type of hair loss for men, it is best identified as a pattern of receding hairline and hair thinning on the crown. It is estimated to affect 90 percent of men by the age of 50 as a consequence of hormonal function and genetics. Many different treatments exist to combat pattern baldness, including medicines such as finasteride (Propecia) and minoxidil (Rogaine) and procedures such as hair transplantation. More than ever before, men with male pattern baldness are seeking out companies to perform hair transplant procedures for a permanent restoration of their natural hairlines.
Male pattern baldness is related to hormones called androgens, specifically an androgen called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It attaches to receptor cells on the scalp and hair follicles, interrupting and interacting with the normal mechanics involved with continual, healthy hair growth. Men who display male pattern baldness typically have lower levels of testosterone, but a proportionately higher level of DHT in their body. Other factors such as lifestyle factors and terminal illness may cause hair loss as well.
The most notable symptom of the onset of male pattern baldness is hair loss along the hairline that gradually recedes into an “M” shape. The hair at the crown begins to thin, eventually meeting the receding hairline and creating a horseshoe pattern of hair around the sides of the head. Male pattern baldness is typically diagnosed by the appearance of this pattern. Other diseases such as alopecia areata or folliculitis may cause dissimilar balding patterns and should not be diagnosed as male pattern baldness.
Medicinal treatments for male pattern baldness include Propecia and Rogaine. Both are more successful at slowing hair loss than exhibiting new hair growth. Needless to say, unlike hair transplantation, no medicinal treatment is a permanent solution for male pattern baldness. Of the two, Propecia is most successful with male pattern baldness as it inhibits the growth of DHT androgens.
Hair transplantation is very effective at treating male pattern baldness. Since hair follicles from the side and back of the head are resistant to the DHT androgens, hair simply must be transplanted from healthy parts of the scalp to the affected areas. The surgery has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Since 2004, there has been a 34% increase in hair transplant procedures, according to a survey conducted by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS). The increase is a result of an increase in the effectiveness of the procedure and the natural results it yields. In 2006, 87% of hair restoration surgeries were for patients with pattern baldness.