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How Do Hair Transplants Work?

By the time they reach the age of 35, roughly 40 percent of all men will have noticeable hair loss. Women are not immune to hair loss - by age 60, nearly 80 percent of all women will suffer from some form of visible hair loss as well.

There are plenty of options when it comes to putting the brakes on the balding process. However, depending on the reason why you're going bald, even a boatload of Rogaine won't fix it.

Often referred to as "male pattern baldness", the most common type of hair loss among men is androgenic alopecia. It accounts for over 95 percent of all cases of hair loss in men. Women also can suffer from this kind of hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia is caused by a combination of genetics and hormones. In this type of hair loss, the hair follicle - which is necessary for producing new hair growth - shrinks and ceases hair production. This type of baldness generally starts at the hairline and recedes. The hair will become shorter, thinner and finer on the top and sides of the head, eventually forming a "U" pattern on the head.

While it is true that there are a number of reasons why a person can lose their hair, for most hair-loss sufferers, the only culprit responsible is heredity. In cases of inherited hair loss, hair follicles are sensitive to Dihydrotestosterone, also known as DHT. DHT-sensitive hair follicles will shrink, which shortens the lifespan of each hair follicle that is affected. The eventual result is a complete lack of new hair growth.

Numerous options are available for this kind of hair loss. Some 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor drugs, such as Propecia, can be used to help reverse hair loss in cases of androgenic alopecia. Some sufferers of this type of hair loss also have experienced success with the topical usage of minoxidil - known by the brand name Rogaine - which is available in many over-the-counter products.

If all else fails, hair replacement/transplant technology may be another viable option.

So how do hair transplants work?

Those who suffer from "male pattern baldness" are the best candidates for a hair transplant. While hair loss occurs near the front and sides of the head with this condition, there still are working hair follicles in the back of the head.

During a traditional hair transplant procedure, surgeons remove skin from the back and/or sides of the head which still contain working hair follicles. Those pieces of skin are then grafted to the front areas of the scalp, where the hair loss is occurring. These hair follicles, which have not been affected by the hormone DHT, will begin to grow hair in their new location.

Most surgeons place the greatest concentration of skin grafts at the front and top of the head, which provides the best aesthetics for new hair growth.

While hair transplantation is a great option for those suffering from "male pattern baldness", it is not a permanent solution. Hair loss in the non-transplanted areas will continue to occur, which will cause areas of "patterned" baldness to reappear. Transplant patients who use a drug like Propecia following their procedure often are able to slow the loss of additional hair, making another transplant unnecessary.

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