‘Hair today, gone tomorrow’ – just one of many gags used against the balding male population. Most men will lose their hair at some stage in life, but how do we react to the situation should it occur? Ape to Gentleman caught up with experts at Bosley (a hair restoration firm based in the U.S. and Mexico) to help shed some light on this sensitive issue.

EA: Losing their hair is something that most men fear will happen to them at some stage in their life, is there anything men can do from a young age that can reduce the chances of them losing their hair?

Bosley: Hair loss that is caused by medicines, stress, lack of protein or iron, or hair care may be prevented. Avoiding certain medicines, reducing stress, getting adequate protein and iron in your diet, and using hairstyles that do not damage your hair may reduce or prevent hair loss. If hair loss is caused by a temporary situation such as medication, stress or insufficient iron, the hair loss will stop when its cause ends. Hair loss due to infection may require oral antibiotics or antifungals. For all of the causes, early treatment works the best.

Unfortunately, inherited hair loss (androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness) cannot be prevented. However, many treatments are available.

EA: From what age is it normal for men to start losing their hair?

Bosley: People start balding or suffering from hair loss at different ages, and at different rates from one another. So there are no set rules in balding. According to Medem Medical Library’s website, male pattern baldness affects roughly 40 million men in the United States. Approximately 25 percent of men begin balding by age 30; two-thirds begin balding by age 60. There is a 4 in 7 chance of getting the baldness gene. But there are rare cases where men start losing hair in their early 20s, and even before they turn 20.

EA: In your experience, have you ever found there to be a relationship to a man’s diet and hair loss?

Bosley: There are a variety of vitamins and minerals that should be included in your daily diet in order to help reduce the loss of hair. When your diet is lacking in proper nutrition, or when you make drastic changes to your current diet, hair loss can result. Some foods you should add to your diet to increase hair health include: fruits, vegetables, dairy, lean healthy meats, fish, legumes, unsaturated fats, and water. As you can see, the foods necessary to achieve healthy hair are the same that are necessary for overall body health.

Men in general tend to eat more fatty food, such as junk or fast food. For these men, simply altering their diet to include healthy foods and reducing intake of sweets and fatty food, can decrease the amount of hair loss they experience and improve overall health.

EA: There are many myths about where the baldness gene comes from, your Dad or your Mother’s Dad etc. Can you shed some light on this theory?

Bosley: Hair loss or baldness is a genetic trait—but unlike what you may have been told, it’s not necessarily passed down from your maternal grandfather. Medical science has come to learn that baldness genes are actually passed down from both sides of the family—and they affect hair loss in women as well as men. Baldness genes may also skip generations and are utterly random in terms of which siblings (male or female) they will affect. They may even have very different effects on siblings in the same family.

EA: So you notice your hair receding, thinning, what is the next step?

Bosley: You start looking for treatment options, to halt the hair loss, retain what is left, or promote hair growth. Propecia is a prescription hair loss treatment that is prescribed for men only. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is rubbed directly onto the scalp and works for both men and women.  Both can be effective in retaining existing hair – but it is rare for either to regrow cosmetically significant amounts of hair.   It usually works best for hair loss at top and back of the scalp, where there is still some remaining hair. With both Propecia and Minoxidil treatments, consistency is key – once the treatments are stopped, any hair retained or regrown because of the drug will be lost in a matter of months.

Well chosen hairstyles can often hide hair loss effectively. Partial hairpieces or wigs are recommended if hair loss is severe.

Ultimately, there is hair transplantation. Bosley has been hair restoration experts since 1974. During a hair transplant, healthy hairs are harvested from an area of the scalp with normal hair growth. Individual hairs are then placed into areas of hair loss. With over 200,000 procedures under its belt, Bosley physicians are experienced in producing results that are extremely natural looking.

EA: For those who have lost their hair, but don’t wish to seek treatment, what is the best action to take with your remaining hair?

Bosley: You could let the hair loss follow a natural progression, and let it fall gradually until you go bald. You could choose to shave the head bald altogether, and wear that proudly.

Facial hair is basically that- on and around the face. It doesn’t help your head hair grow. Growing facial hair might help with taking the spotlight off the balding head, and might shape the face to give a slimming effect, but in reality, it doesn’t slow down the hair loss on your head, or help retain the remaining hair.

You could also wear a wig or toupee, to cover the bald head.

EA: For those that do want to take action, what options are open to them?

Bosley: Your first step should be to educate yourself and understand what options are available to you for your particular type and degree of hair loss.  Bosley offers all FDA approved hair loss treatments as well as surgical hair restroration.  Consultations at Bosley are always free of charge, and there is never any obligation to move forward. Your private, one-on-one consultation with a Bosley Counselor will provide a general understanding of hair loss and treatment options.  Meeting with a Bosley physician in one of Bosley’s Regional Surgical Offices will enable you to receive a free medical diagnosis and treatment plan.

Generally speaking, your available options depend on the type of hair loss you have, the degree of hair loss you currently experience, and the cosmetic goals you have for restoring lost hair.  Propecia and Minoxidil treatments, as well as laser therapy with the Bosley LaserComb are most effective in retaining existing hair, but are not as effective in regrowing lost hair.  All are temporary solutions in that any benefits received in retaining or restoring hair are lost if you stop treatment.

For those with more advanced hair loss who are looking to restore hair, and not merely retain their existing hair, surgical hair restoration is the most likely solution.  If you are looking for a permanent solution to hair loss, then surgical hair restoration performed at Bosley might be your final option. Bosley offers the only permanent and the most significant solution to hair loss- surgical hair transplantation. Put simply, the procedure involves taking healthy follicles from the donor area (side or back of head typically) and transplanting them to troubled areas- areas of the head that need more hair.

EA: In some more extreme cases, men might consider transplantation. How is this method more effective when compared to others?

Bosely: Treatments such as Rogaine and Propecia can be used to slow balding and retain what hair is left on the head, but neither is particularly effective in restoring lost hair – especially on top of the head and along the hairline.  Neither treatment cures baldness; any benefits received are lost within a few months after the drug is stopped. The manufacturer Johnson & Johnson would tell you that their product is not effective in the frontal area, which is the area of most concern to most patients, especially the frontal hairline. They claim that approximately 8-10% of users achieve cosmetically effective growth and another 20% get vellus (or peach fuzz) growth.

We don’t see Hair transplantation as an extreme solution at all. We see it as the most, natural and permanent solution to hair loss. The results look completely natural, and unlike topical or pills, hair restoration requires no ongoing maintenance.  Ultimately there are only two ways to achieve significant cosmetic improvement to someone who has lost a great deal of hair.  One is permanent hair restoration – the kind of procedure that Bosley performs.  The second is toupees and wigs, which can provide a significant cosmetic improvement, but lack the naturalness and permanence that hair restoration can provide.

EA: And finally, if you had one piece of advice you could give to anyone, what would it be?

Bosely: The process and rate of hair loss vary from one individual to another. Whether it is slow or rapid, at a young age or older, you should not ignore the problem. Seek out your doctors, and discuss treatment options and proper diet & nutrition intake, to help promote hair health and slow down hair loss.

Please keep in mind that hair loss and its treatments are medical considerations. And with everything of the medical nature, you and your readers should seek the opinions of your qualified physicians.