Balding in Men (Alopecia) – Symptoms & Treatment

Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss whereby hair is shed and not replaced in areas where it ordinarily would be. There are many types of alopecia but the most common and publicised form is among men. This type of alopecia is often hereditary and is known as androgenetic alopecia. Many men suffering with this form of Alopecia use the well-man health services here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall.

There are only two categories of treatments that can have some effect in dealing with androgenetic alopecia; they are chemical treatments and hair loss surgery.

Chemical treatments

There are two types of chemical treatment that the medical fraternity sometimes recommend. They are:

  • Monoxidil (a topically applied treatment)
  • Finasteride, an oral treatment administered in tablet form.

However, even with these, the recommendations are quite limited as successful outcomes are rare. The medical profession as a whole feel more comfortable in recommending surgical treatments as they tend to be more effective and long lasting.

Hair loss surgery

Hair loss surgery is the only hair loss treatment that works with any degree of certainty. It is not however normally available via the NHS. There are 3 main types of surgery here in the UK. They are:

  • Hair transplant surgery
  • Scalp reduction surgery
  • Implanting artificial hair surgery

Hair transplant surgery

Under hair transplant surgery, a small area of scalp that produces healthy hair (sized approximately 1cm x 30/35cm) is split into smaller groups or individual pieces of hair growing tissue, which are then transplanted into the bald area of the scalp. Surgical sutures are not required as the natural clotting action of blood where the transplant takes place is sufficient to hold the new tissue and hair in place.

A course of hair transplant surgery usually consists of several sessions carried out over a number of months. The procedure is carried out under a local anaesthetic.

Scalp reduction surgery

Scalp reduction surgery is a procedure that involves cutting away sections of bald scalp from the top of the head to allow healthy hair growing tissue to be stretched and repositioned over the bald area. This is a procedure which is designed to make small bald areas of the head more manageable.

While scalp reduction surgery is sometimes carried out in isolation, it is also often performed in tandem with hair transplant surgery.  

When the area in question is only a small area, this procedure is often carried out under a local anaesthetic. Where the area to be treated is larger (say in the example of severe burns or traumas), the procedure is carried out under a general anaesthetic. When carried over large areas, any hair transplant procedure that may also be necessary will be performed separately at a later date.

Implanting artificial hair

As the name suggests this procedure involves the implanting of synthetic fibres into the scalp. The procedure is normally carried out under a local anaesthetic.

Artificial hair implantation is a relatively new technique and some clinicians will steer men towards hair transplant and scalp reduction surgery instead, as these procedures have been around for longer and are better understood.

Other treatments sometimes recommended for Alopecia

The treatments we’ve outlined above have been scientifically proven to work in one measure or another. There are several other treatments that are sometimes recommended by clinicians. These include:

  • Oral cyclosporine
  • Intraregional corticosteroids
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Topical dithranol
  • Topical immunotherapy
  • Topical or systemic psoralen together with ultraviolet A (PUVA) light therapy

Some Alopecia treatments such as immunotherapy and dithranol cream mentioned above are designed to create a mild skin reaction. Immunotherapy for example uses a chemical known as diphencyprone (DPCP) which is applied to the scalp in a stronger and stronger solution week by week until is causes a mild form of eczema from which, in some cases, hair will grow after about 12 weeks. Dithranol works in a similar way.

Unfortunately, both treatments can cause severe skin reactions and in many instances, any success with re-growth of hair is short-lived.  

Getting good, professional advice

Hair loss (Alopecia) is a problem that has plagued men for centuries and there are now many treatments being advertised and sold that are totally ineffective. The best way to get a proper diagnosis and advice about preferred treatments that do work you should begin by chatting to your GP.

Walk-in well-man health services at Broadgate Clinic London Wall

If you live and/or work in London and you are suffering from Alopecia, you can make use of the well-man health services offered by Broadgate Clinic London Wall. Designed for the busy man about London, visiting our walkin well- man clinic London Wall needs no prior appointment; so when you get a break in your busy work schedule, why not drop in for consultation?