Imagine taking the drastic decision to have surgery to address your hair loss only to be told that your results may not look natural due to the diameter of your donor hair.
This is, it seems, a common state of affairs among men from Asia and India with the genetic condition male pattern baldness. The reason for this discrepancy is that in people with the Asian hair type, hairs located around the back and sides of the scalp – the areas unaffected by hereditary hair loss and thus harvested as donor hair during transplant operations – are noticeably thicker than those located around their hairline.
With this in mind – and with the Asian hair type being the most dominant worldwide – researchers at the Institute of Dermatology in Thailand are investigating long pulse lasers to shrink the hair shaft diameter before men have a hair transplant.
Hair transplant issues for Asian men
Doctors at the Institute have announced a clinical trial to study this and are expected to start recruiting soon. Around 15 participants are anticipated, and each will be subjected to long-pulsed, 1064nm Nd-YAG laser at the donor site (the back and sides of their head) before the operation.
The doctors write: “Most Asians tend to have large size of hair shaft at the donor area, which often cause unnatural look of the hairline at the frontal area after hair transplantation due to the contrast between the transplanted hair and the original hair. The idea of reducing the size of the hair shaft in the certain part of donor area before being transplanted to the frontal hairline becomes appealing. This transection is being practiced extensively in the field of cosmetic medicine by using long-pulsed Neodymium-Doped:Yttrium Aluminium Gamet (Nd:YAG), a laser treatment for permanent hair removal and vascular lesions.”
Hair loss experts understand the nuances of racial hair types very well, and when devising a hair loss treatment course – a popular and non-invasive alternative to a hair transplant in many cases – hair type is just one of a multitude of things that is taken into consideration. Many people don’t realise, for example, that different hair types have differently-shaped follicles; nor do they generally know that Afro hair grows at the slowest rate, whilst Asian hair usually exists in greater numbers on a person’s head and also grows about 40% more quickly than Afro hair. And, whilst Caucasian hair tends to be the densest hair type, blondes tend to have more hairs on their head than both brunettes and redheads.
During a hair transplant follicles that are transplanted from the back of the head to the front should prevent hair thinning in this area. This is because, in men who are predisposed to male pattern baldness, it is only those follicles at the front and top of the head that are sensitive to a hormone named dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is what causes them to gradually thin. The newly-implanted hairs carry their own set of genetic traits, and should therefore be spared the effects of DHT – unlike the hairs around the top of the scalp and hairline surrounding the new grafts.
Preventing hair loss after a hair transplant
Hair loss after a hair transplant is common, and it can take around 12 months following the procedure to see the finished results. However, aside from this expected hair fall, hairloss may also occur following restoration surgery if proper aftercare is lacking.
Whether due to a lack of suitable donor hair or for financial reasons, a man may choose to have one particular area surgically restored, such as a receding hairline for example. Whilst this may address shedding in this area, without appropriate intervention, the follicles along the vertex will remain susceptible to genetic hair thinning.
In cases where this happens, a “hair island” can form as the existing hairs continue to thin and fall out around the re-positioned follicles. It is for this reason that men undergoing a transplant are generally advised to follow a male hair loss treatment course on an ongoing basis following the procedure.
These treatment programmes are based around use of one or both of the only two MHRA licensed and FDA approved drugs for male pattern hair loss: finasteride 1mg and minoxidil.
Topical applications of high strength minoxidil are designed to encourage hair growth and are applied directly to the scalp, where needed. The one-a-day DHT-blocking tablet finasteride 1mg can help to stabilise hair loss and help in preventing further deterioration of the affected follicles.
In addition to this, a number of hair growth supporting products can help to stimulate follicles and maintain normal healthy hair regrowth. What many men prefer about this multi-faceted approach is that it is more discreet than a transplant.
Some surgeons actually recommend that patients also begin treatment at least six months before their operation in order to maximise hair growth and also to make the area easier to work with during surgery. At this point some men may decide they no longer want to proceed with surgical hair restoration at all; many are able to avoid hair transplants entirely by taking this approach.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.