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As a social species, it would be an understatement to say that most of us take our looks very seriously. Our appearance is a point of distinction from others, they way we dress and style ourselves says a lot about who we are as individuals. Studies have found significant links between one’s self-image and one’s confidence or self-esteem. So while vanity is typically something frowned upon in our society, it would be delusional to think that one’s appearance has no impact on one’s mental health. When framing it in this way, the issue of hair loss can prove to have a devastating and lasting impact on an individual’s self esteem.

Hair Loss in the U.S.

In the United States, there are around 35 million men that endure some level of hair loss or baldness. By the age of 35, experts suggest that two out of every three American men will experience some degree of hair loss; by age 50 it is suggested that nearly 85% of men will have significantly thinning hair. Hair loss is not just restricted to men however as around 40% of women will experience some thinning of the hair by age 50. Some experts suggest that four out of every 10 individuals who experience baldness are actually women, challenging the long-held gender bias that men exclusively suffer from hair loss.

Why Do We Go Bald?

Despite what many Americans may think, balding is in fact a process that takes place over several years. Typically a strand of hair will grow for two to six years before entering a resting period for several months before ultimately falling out; to the individual it would appear as though there is no hair growth for several months prior to baldness setting in. There are a number of reasons why people end up losing their hair. In cases of autoimmune disease the body may actually directly attack hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. In other cases the hair loss could be linked to a vitamin or mineral deficiency or even advanced cases of stress on the individual. For men, the most common reason for hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, or common male pattern baldness that alone accounts for over 95% of hair loss in men.

Treatment Options

Dermatologists have developed a number of procedures to help treat and cure baldness in patients. Hormone and steroid injection therapy is but one method to gradually encourage new hair growth, although this process can take several months of treatment before there are any results. Many people instead opt to consult with a hair transplant clinic to replace hair follicles. There are a number of options used by hair transplant clinics including follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) and follicular unit extraction (FUE). FUSS is an invasive hair transplant surgery in which a graft is harvested from the scalp of the patient and placed where the hair loss occurs; this process leaves a scar on the back of the patient’s head and takes quite some time for recovery. FUE hair transplants on the other hand takes hair follicles from a donor and noninvasively transplants them onto the patient, resulting in a shorter recovery time, no scars, and the ability for patients to cut, style, and shave their hair as they would like in the future. FUE healing time varies based on the patient’s skin type but many hair transplant clinics suggest that the grafts take in a matter of days with redness settling in less than a week.