Baldness is much more than just a bad hair day. Every strand loss means a dip in one’s confidence. There’s just something about the hair on our heads, our crown of glory, which can make or break our day and make us feel incredible or terrible. It seems every strand makes a whole world of difference.
Unfortunately, baldness is something that a majority of men, regardless of race, color, or religion, is at risk of experiencing. The most common type of hair loss in men is androgenic alopecia or male pattern baldness. The male baldness pattern usually starts at the temples then progresses to the hairline and the crown, resulting to partial or complete baldness. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, more than 50% of all men over the age of 50 will go through some extent of baldness. In some cases, hair loss and male baldness starts as early as the teenage years. It is mostly genetic — if you belong to a family with a history of baldness, you are also likely to go bald. Merge genetics with age and you got a real reason to believe you will go through it.
This is the reason why the baldness treatment industry is growing. First, there were hair products, prescribed diet, medicines, and creams. Now, hair transplant has become more common, aggressively advertised, and openly talked about. But before you pull what’s remaining of your hair in frustration over your hair loss predicament, it is important to arm yourself with knowledge. Did you know that not one hair loss case fits all? Learn about the seven stages of baldness, what happens at every stage and what you can do about it.
Stage 1: No Signs Yet
A full head during your younger years is not a guarantee that you won’t have to deal with baldness later on. This is just what to expect at the first stage based on an infographic by NuHart Clinic, one of the leading hair transplant centers in the world. This is essentially similar with the Norwood-Hamilton Scale that outlines the seven different stages of male baldness.
In this stage, adolescent hairline looks full and healthy. There are no signs of hair loss at the hairline or the crown of the head. But don’t let your guard down. As you enter your 20s, start monitoring your hairline and educate yourself with the history of baldness and male pattern baldness genetics in your family. The common myth that baldness is only inherited from the mother’s side is absolutely not true according to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery.
No baldness treatment or baldness cure is necessary at this stage. Just use the right hair products to prevent hair fall and go on a prescribed diet. There are foods and nutrients that can help you grow a healthy hair. You may also start taking photos of your hairline to serve as your “medical record” if ever that time comes. Pull back your hair, take a photo every six months and thank yourself later on for doing so.
Stage 2: Watch out for the frontal hairline
This is where it all starts. Stage 2 demonstrates the progression to an adult hairline and at this point, you must be on the lookout for male baldness pattern signs. An initial sign of baldness is when you start noticing symmetrical or triangular area of recession at the frontal hairline. An M or U pattern is formed at the front. Hair loss is very mild and often concentrated at the front but watch out for the central part of your scalp as it could also start losing hair. Consulting a dermatologist at this point will be helpful. Medicines and nutritional supplements may be recommended.
Stage 3: Baldness becomes visible
Hair loss at this stage is significant enough to be labeled as baldness. The symmetrical recession at the temples becomes deeper. In some cases, the temples are totally bare. The hair at the crown or the “vertex” also becomes thinner. At this point, you must already consider getting a hair transplant.
According to data from the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, there are more than 800,000 hair loss sufferers around the world seeking professional treatment as of last year. Among the most common cure for baldness is hair restoration and transplant. In 2010, some 279,000 went for it, making hair restoration nearly a $2 billion industry. Do your research, schedule consultations, and ask questions before you decide. Learn the truth about the procedure and recovery stages. In a nutshell, here is what happens: the procedure typically starts with the removal of strips of hair from your donor strip (or a part of your body where hair is abundant). The strip will be stitched and hair will be removed and implanted to problem areas to recreate your natural hairline. Implanting follicles is a very delicate process that takes around four to eight hours and requires highly-experienced surgeons. Hair sheds for the first few weeks, regrow after three months, and full results will show in less than a year.
Stage 4: Getting more serious now
Lack of hair is now evident in the temporal and front crown area. Bald spot at the back of the head starts to appear. Often, there is a bridge of moderately dense hair that separates hair loss at the front of the scalp to that of the vertex or crown. This could be a positive sign that you could still grow your hair so you must be considering all options at this point. Depending on your choice of baldness cure — FDA-approved medicines or surgery — you can go back to Stage 3 or Stage 2 if you’re lucky. At this stage, you may still reduce the effects so get the help of an expert before you hit a major hair loss problem.
Stage 5: Baldness becomes severe
This is the beginning of severe hair loss. Even the band of hair in between the hairline and the crown is starting to get thinner. Hair loss at the temples and the vertex are now more distinct and noticeable. This normally happens when you’ve reached the age of 50, but it can also happen to men in their 30s. If you have decided to go for hair transplant at this stage, ask your doctor or surgeon if he can perform a 4,000-hair graft procedure. Know that at this point, more hair grafts are needed for coverage of natural-looking hair.
Stage 6: It gets critical
The bridge of the hair is now completely gone. Baldness is now concentrated at the center of the scalp. Along with the remaining hair on the sides, a horseshoe shape is formed on top of your head. Expect that as the stages progress, the hair above your ears will also start to thin. But don’t worry because there are still abundant areas where donor hair may be extracted. Hair replacement solutions are available at every stage of hair loss so even at this critical point, a natural-looking hair restoration procedure is still achievable.
Stage 7: Hair today, gone tomorrow
The horseshoe pattern has now extended to the back and the sides, leaving the top of your head totally bald. And since you have already reached the most severe stage of hair loss, donor hair may also be scarce now. However, if donor hair is still sufficient, you may still go for a procedure. Just manage your expectations because lack of donor hair also means limited results. So the lesson here is to get the cure while you still can.
A full head of hair is often associated with strength, youth, and power. And though most men would not discuss their emotions over hair loss, it’s there — depression, loss of confidence, and devastation. Spencer Kobren, president of the American Hair Loss Associaton and founder of the baldtruth.com has this to say about the struggle of men against going bald: “Men would rather re-grow their hair than lose body fat. If you told a balding guy he could keep his hair if he were to run five miles a day and eat a specific diet, he’d absolutely do it. Hair is different.” And different it is. One survey also found that 60% of men would rather have more hair than more money or friend and 30% said they don’t mind giving up sex if that would mean earning more strands. See? That’s how much we value our crowning glory. So never take male baldness and hair loss sitting down.Educate yourself about the stages you may go through (if you aren’t already), what to expect at every stage, and what you can do to minimize the effects. There’s a cure for baldness at every stage, you just have to know where you are and what you are capable to do to prevent severe hair loss. Go over these stages and carefully study your options.