Is your hair loss permanent? Learn about male pattern hair loss and the different types of treatment options available.

The majority of hair loss is men is due to genetics. Male Pattern Baldness (medically termed as androgenic alopecia) is a hereditary condition affecting more than two-thirds of all males. It is the result of hormonal changes that cause the hair follicle to shrink and grow at a steadily slower rate. Eventually, growth ceases completely, usually in a predictable pattern. The vast majority of men in this country have significantly thinning hair by age 50.

We all know that hair loss changes how we look, but it can also affect how we feel about ourselves. Perhaps you’re experiencing a decline in self-esteem or feeling less confident at work or in social situations. Our society identifies the loss of hair with growing older and slowing down. Even though you may not feel those things, how others see you – and how you see yourself – impacts your behavior.

The good news is that once you identify your hair loss, you can begin to take action to treat and prevent it from progressing.

How to Identify Male Pattern Balding in Men

Men and women present very different - yet predictable - hair loss patterns. Male Pattern Baldness occurs in a particular pattern for most men. The seven classifications of male hair loss are depicted below. Hair loss usually proceeds from the earlier stages to the more advanced stages over time if medical intervention for treatment is not taken.

First Signs of Pattern Balding: A Receding Hairline

Is your hairline further back than it was when you were younger? In men, hair loss patterns usually begin with a receding hairline that deepens in the temporal areas. Initially, the recession is imperceptible with hair becoming less full towards the front of the hair line. Gradually, the hairline moves further and further back. This recession of the hair line is generally followed by thinning hair at the crown of the head.

Next Signs of Pattern Balding: Thinning at the Crown

Another sign of androgenic alopecia is thinning hair at the crown (the area at the top towards the back of the hair). Many times, men don't even know they are thinning at the crown because they cannot see this area in the mirror. Usually hair stylists and spouses are the first to notice this type of balding. Balding at the crown begins slowly with hair becoming sparser in a smaller area. Over time, thinning at the crown widens over a larger area with areas of complete baldness. In certain types of hair loss, the hairline does not recede completely and a “bridge” of hair seems to divide the hairline from the balding at the crown.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Hair Loss in Men

The are a handful of non-surgical treatment options for preventing & treating mild to moderate hair loss in men: there are prescription medications taken orally, medicated topical solutions, and laser therapy. These treatments prevent and help stop hair loss or reverse hair loss. There are many factors to consider when deciding on a treatment option. Read more information on how to choose the best treatment option for your hair loss and consider side-effects as well as integrating the treatment with your lifestyle.

The good news is that hair loss that is mild to moderate is treatable and reversible.

Low-Level Laser Therapy: Drug-Free Photobiomodulating Treatment

Low-level light treatment is available for patients who are suffering from either male or female pattern hair loss. Visible red laser light is effective in stimulating energizing within the cells of the hair follicle. Low-level light therapy (LLLT), now also known as photobiomodulation or PBMT, has been used since the 1960s for varying treatments of medical conditions such as chronic ulcers, and chronic pain such as headaches, musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain without major adverse side effects. LLLT is believed to increase cell metabolism for thicker, lusterous, and more durable hair.

Minoxidil: Medicated Topical Solution

The anti-hypertensive drug minoxidil was shown in the early 1980’s to stimulate new hair growth, and was eventually approved as a topical treatment for male pattern baldness, and baldness in women (specifically “androgenetic alopecia,” or AGA). Minoxidil is known to act as an opener of potassium channels, but the mechanism by which it is effective on hair is unclear. It appears to convert vellus hairs, which are short, fine body hair to terminal hairs – fully developed “regular” hairs. It also appears to normalize the hair follicle, and to increase the “growth phase” of hair follicles. Minoxidil is proven to help slow or stop hereditary hair loss in 4 out of 5 people. Some people will even grow new hair. For a minority of people, it can even grow back lost hairs in the crown area (back of the head).

Finastride: Oral Prescription Medication

Finasteride’s (Propecia®) claim to fame is to maintain existing hair. 83% of men studied were able to maintain their original follicle count, and 64% experienced re-growth after 2 years. Propecia does this by inhibiting the creation of DHT in your system. DHT is a naturally occurring hormone which assists with sexual development in males during fetal development and puberty. When a man begins to undergo that second “change of life,” DHT becomes some hair follicles’ worst enemy. Follicles at the front, top, and upper back of the head in most men are genetically programmed to become susceptible to DHT at some point in a man’s life. Those hairs which cover the sides and bottom back of the head typically are not susceptible to DHT, which is why most men do not lose hair in these areas. During hair loss, DHT short circuits follicle growth. This is also an extremely long process, and the cycles for hair growth are typically about 3-9 months. Without a DHT inhibitor either systemically (in the bloodstream) or locally in the scalp, each time your hair cycles, the follicle will become thinner and shorter, and ultimately it will not grow back in. Many side effects from Propecia have recently been found, making it an unattractive treatment option for many.

Surgical Hair Restoration

At a certain point in hair loss progression, hair loss advances to stages where there is little that can be done by any treatment to restore the follicle to regenerate healthy hair. A viable hair follicle is necessary to grow hair. Hair transplantation surgery moves hair follicles still capable of producing hair from a "donor" area (typically the back or sides of the scalp) to the area where viable follicles are no longer present, "restoring” the hair in that region.

Hair Loss Patterns in Men

The obvious goal of a hair restoration for men is to create a fuller head of natural-looking hair, but other benefits come with looking younger and feeling better. Both men and women report being more confident in their interpersonal and social relationships. Their business performance often improves. They feel more self-assured, more engaged in life and project a stronger, more positive self-image. The impact of successful augmentation is definitely life enhancing. For some people, it can be life changing. With so much at stake, you want a hair therapy you can trust.