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When is a hair-transplant the only option left to treat hair loss?

Dr Harold Ma has been performing hair transplants for more than 10 years at Freia Medical almost on a daily basis. We've come across many questions from patients who are concerned about their various states of hair loss and here is one question that seems to come up most frequently.

Question: How do I know if i need a hair transplant, and will it help my hair situation?

We have distilled this down to a few basic sequential questions that may help guide you in your decision making.

1. What is the cause of your hair loss?

Very often, hair loss, be it male or female pattern hair loss (MPHL or FPHL) boils down to genetics. We cannot choose or change our genes and our genetic makeup determines what hair type, colour, texture, density of hair we have, and ultimately how long our hair stays on our head. 

However, there are external factors that may contribute to this hair problem. These include poor dietary intake, extreme emotional stress or poor lifestyle choices in general (excessive smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of sleep, etc). 

Sometimes, an underlying medical condition such as anemia or thyroid disorder may be the cause of the hair loss. Only a medical professional can help to distinguish the causes and arrive at a definitive diagnosis, so be sure to seek the right help early to avoid worsening hair loss, and get down to the root of the problem by identifying the true causes.

Hair loss may be treated with injectibles, topical creams or sprays.

2. Have you explored all other treatment options with your doctor, such as oral medications, scalp treatments for hair loss symptoms?

The most established and scientifically proven methods to address hair loss are oral medications (for men only), scalp/hair sprays, CG210, low-level laser therapy and some types of hair supplements and scalp treatment.

In various above-mentioned combination treatments tend to use a long term strategy against future genetically programmed hair loss.

Using hair treatments is like going to the gym. If you stop going to the gym for exercise for an extended period of time, or in this case, maintenance treatment for your hair loss, any benefit you initially achieved, will gradually be lost over 6 months. 

It is vital that you grasp this concept and help prevent further hair loss so that the results can be long lasting. Compliance with your doctor's treatment plan may contribute significantly to your success.

3. Is your hair loss stable, or is it still progressing? 

This is an important step to determine if you are responding to current treatments, and if a hair transplant is going to help you have a fuller head of hair in the long term.

A hair transplant works by adding healthy hair to the gaps in your scalp. While the transplanted hair are expected to last a long time, any ongoing hair loss of existing hair means that should you undergo a hair transplant, the newly transplanted hair will last longer, while the older original hairs may be lost.

It's like adding 100 hairs to the scalp, but we lose 100 of our original hairs, so we are back at square one. Not exactly a very good situation to be in.

4. What is the pattern of hair loss? And why it matters

The pattern of hair loss will determine if one is suitable for a hair transplant. Typical male and female pattern hair loss or a high and receded hairline make good candidates for hair transplant.

Ideal candidates are those with an obvious thinning area compared with the surrounding healthy denser areas. Conversely, early hair loss doesn't always require a hair transplant and indeed, it may be harmful to do a hair transplant prematurely. Diffusely thin hair throughout the scalp also may not be suitable.

As doctors, we are specifically looking out for suitable gaps in order to plant new healthy hairs, or will it lead to damaging existing hairs (a phenomenon known as shock loss can happen as a result). It comes with experience to know when is a good time for a hair transplant. If you're looking for a hair transplant procedure for yourself, consider speaking to a doctor with relevant experience to guide you through, you may also contact our clinic here.

Another good method I use, is to see if there is any "scalp show". By the time we can see down to the white of the scalp, it means there is not enough hair to cover the scalp adequately. Usually, that means we have lost about 50% of the original density or numbers of hair, and this scenario would make hair transplant an idea solution to hair loss.

5. Is it too late to do a hair transplant? Am I eligible for a hair transplant? 

This all depends on several factors which include:

  • how much hair we have lost, 
  • how much donor hair is left,
  • the quality of the donor hairs,
  • whether there is sufficient body or beard hair to harvest from, etc.

 A proper examination is important to determine this critical decision.

If you think you are experiencing hair loss, it can be a very isolating and frustrating journey. Speak to a professional early to get the right advice.

Think Hair, Think Dr. Harold.

We've helped thousands of patients regain their confidence, let us help you too.

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