By Alan J. Bauman, M.D.
Deciding to undergo treatment for hair loss isn’t always easy. Particularly for women, there is often a lot of embarrassment and confusion that goes along with this condition. Admitting to yourself that you have female- or male-pattern hair loss is sometimes a tough pill to swallow, but coupled with this is the nagging fear that the treatments won’t work.
This is why it’s so important for patients to feel confident about the effective treatment options that are available and what time and effort is needed to achieve results.
By the time hair loss becomes visible to the naked eye, over 50% of your hair may have already been lost.So, getting started early on treatments and sticking to your doctor’s medical plan and follow-up appointments are critical to reversing hair loss.
While occasionally men and women may feel like the treatments “aren’t working,” it’s important to get a clear perspective on why this may – or may not – be the case. Having realistic expectations about what these treatments will do and how long they will take is also critical. After all, the main reason why treatments fail is that patients give up too soon… long before the results are visible to the naked eye. Good things come to those who are consistent and “wait.” Treating hair loss is a marathon, not a sprint.
Since August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month, I thought it an important time to address this common question among hair loss sufferers.
Here are six reasons why your hair loss treatment may not be working:
You Think It’s Not Working, But It Is.
First off, let’s address the obvious. In many cases, patients don’t “feel” like their treatment program is working, when in reality it is. The problem is that hair growth rates are slow (about 1/4-inch per month) — therefore most treatments take at least six months before subtle results are visible to the naked eye, and even with an advanced hair transplant procedure it takes a year or more for the full result to grow in.
I would recommend that hair loss patients always keep in touch with their doctors, because he/she can take scientific measurements and use microscopic analysis of the follicles to determine if the regrowth is taking place as it should. For example, patients undergoing a non-invasive treatment regimen can use baseline and tracking measurements like HairCheck/HairCam evaluations performed by their doctor or a certified HairCoach™ to support or discontinue their treatments.
Also remember that symptoms may be misleading. A temporary increase in shedding may be a sign your new treatment is working so push onward through to that 90-day follow-up visit to find out what’s really happening at the scalp.
You’re Doing It Wrong.
Sometimes, ‘user error’ is the reason why a treatment takes longer than it should to show results. For example, sloppy or inconsistent application of a prescription topical medication like Compounded Minoxidil Formula 82M may mean the difference between fair results and great results. But you may also simply be using the wrong treatment. Expecting medical-grade results from an over-the-counter treatment (i.e. Rogaine) or a cheap and weak consumer laser (like some of the ones seen in popular in-flight magazines) vs. physician-only/prescribed laser device simply doesn’t make logical sense.
Some rare medical hair loss conditions mimic more common ones, meaning you might be on the wrong treatment regimen. See the right physician. A missed diagnosis of a scarring alopecia for example could spell disaster for your hair in a hurry if left untreated.
Hair Loss Risk Factors
are Inhibiting Your Results.
In a perfect healthy world, treatments for hereditary hair loss work for everyone, but in real life hair loss risk factors like stress, poor diet, medications, toxins like smoking and alcohol intake, poor sleep cycles, hormone imbalance, acute and chronic illnesses and more can overwhelm even the best medical hair regrowth regimen. If your doctor glosses over these risks, or worse, adds to the problem like prescribing testosterone while you are at risk for hereditary hair loss, for example, your hair regrowth may suffer.
Many patients have gone from “bare to hair,” so while it’s never really “too late” to start a hair restoration regimen, sometimes an area of scalp is simply “too far gone” to be helped with traditional non-invasive therapies alone. Meaning, if there is a severe depletion of hair follicles, you will likely need some degree of hair transplantation to reach your goals in that area.
Your primary doctor, ob/gyn, plastic surgeon or even your dermatologist may not be the best source of advice for the most advanced hair loss evaluations, measurements or treatments. While it is true that dermatologists do study hair loss amongst skin diseases during their schooling, the courses are generally brief and not “all encompassing” as compared to a physician specialist solely focusing on hair and hair loss and is staying abreast of the latest research and the newest treatment options.
After all, while your basic car mechanic may know a bit about your transmission and transmission problems, a transmission specialist is where I’d take my car!
Seek a doctor with expertise specializing specifically in hair loss and its treatment.
Bauman Medical Group
Hair Transplant and Hair Loss Treatment Center
1450 S Dixie Hwy
Boca Raton FL 33432-7359