Hair Loss FAQ
Get answers to frequently asked hair loss questions
Q. Is it true that there is a direct correlation between hair loss and heart attacks?
A. There has indeed been speculation that baldness and heart attacks may somehow be connected, but the research is currently inconclusive. Regardless of whether or not balding is a contributing factor you should lead a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet, no smoking and regular visits to your physician.
Q. I wear my hair up all the time in a ponytail, but someone told me that if I keep this up I'm going to be bald one day. Is this true?
A. It is true that some hairstyles can cause hair loss because of the pulling and tension applied to the scalp. If you're a regular ponytail wearer try not to make the ponytail too tight. However, ponytails aren't as risky a hairstyle as cornrows, so you can relax.
Q. Is it true that perms and hair dye will make you go bald?
A. No, in fact these treatments can make your hair look thicker because they coat the hair strand with product giving an illusion of bulk. Hair loss starts at the follicle, which is location under the skin, so any kind of treatment to the shaft cannot physically affect this area.
Q. I heard that brushing your hair 100 strokes a day will make it healthier and shinier. I started to do this, but now I feel like I'm just ripping it out after awhile. What's the deal?
A. Regular brushing shouldn't lead to hair loss. There is no need to do 100 strokes because it really doesn't make much of a difference. It probably could pull hair out if any matting takes place. Make sure that you brush your hair gently. Start from the knotty ends first and work your way up.
Q. My dad still has a great head of hair and he's 57. Does this mean that I'm safe too?
A. You're correct in the sense that balding does have hereditary components which would suggest that you should, in theory, experience very little hair loss in your lifetime. The catch is that when baldness is inherited it most likely involves a collection of genes, so there is no guarantee that you will always have hair just like your father. Have you considered the family history on your mother's side? This counts too.
Q. I'm only 21 and am already thinning a little on top. Lately, I've been wearing my baseball hat more often, but should I be letting my hair breathe more so it will stop falling out?
A. Hair is actually just dead protein, and therefore does not need to breathe. The part that is alive is the root under the skin. This area is connected to a blood supply and it's from here that it gets its oxygen. If you're more comfortable in a hat, you can wear it as much as you want.
Q. Is it better to put Rogaine on with the applicator or to use my fingertips?
A. You do not have to use your fingers to apply Rogaine; however it may help you feel like you have more control. There is exactly one dose of medication in each applicator and it is meant to be applied directly to the scalp without having to be exposed to any other skin. It is fine to use your fingertips, but be sure you scrub you hands well afterwards.
Q. I read that minoxidil should only be used for hereditary hair loss. Is this true?
A. Yes, this is the case. Minoxidil is designed to assist with restoring hair due to hereditary causes only. If there is a history of hair loss on either your father or your mother's side, then you could be a candidate for minoxidil.
Q. Does minoxidil have any dangerous side effects?
A. The worst that can come from using minoxidil is scalp irritation. Minoxidil is a fairly mild treatment and side effects are not common. Occasional itchiness and scaling of the scalp may occur, but can be controlled by using a specialty moisturizing shampoo. If for any reason this does not fix the problem stop using minoxidil until the symptoms go away and then pick it up again in combination with the shampoo.
However, if welts, swelling or severe itchiness occurs contact your Doctor immediately it may be allergy related.
Q. When will I start to notice a different by using Rogaine?
A. Hair growth is a slow process period. This is no exception even with a boost from a product like Rogaine. If you are faithful in its usage then you should start to notice a difference in at least four months. At that time, your hair will grow at the rate it usually would, which is around ½" a month. If you don't see differences consult your physician.
Q. I understand that Propecia is not suitable for women. Is this true?
A. Propecia is only suitable to treat male pattern baldness and it is not designed for usage by women or kids. Note that the active ingredients in Propecia are very powerful and can even harm an unborn baby if the pregnant mother were to be exposed to a broken tablet. This is quite uncommon as the pills are coated to protect any transfer of medication during handling, but it is still important to be aware.
Q. Is hair replacement surgery guaranteed to work? I can't imagine my hair growing on its own...
A. That's the idea. The point of hair replacement surgery is to achieve actual, natural hair growth. The chance that it won't is tiny and due to every case being different there are no guarantees with any surgery. Hair transplants are very successful in the majority of cases.
Q. How do I know if hair replacement is the right option for me?
A. Hair replacement surgery is not appropriate for individuals with Alopecia Areata. Otherwise, if you're looking to reduce or eliminate baldness, it's definitely something to seriously consider. All hair replacement surgeries use your existing hair with the intention of boosting your confidence and feeling better about the way you look. To know whether or not you'd be a good candidate consult your doctor and convey a clear idea of how you foresee your results to look.
The color and texture of your hair is also something to consider, as light-colored, gray and coarser hair will offer more coverage than thin, dark hair. Hair replacement surgery can't do miracles and there are realistic restrictions to consider. For example, someone with very thin hair or no hair at all may not be a good candidate for the procedure.
Q. What are some possible complications that can go along with hair transplantation surgery?
A. There are basically four main complications that can occur in hair replacement surgery:
- Grafts don't work by sometimes not responding as they were intended. This must be corrected with further hair transplant surgery.
- Hair growing back in patches. Sometimes when hair is first growing back it can tend to have an irregular and sometimes patchy look. This unevenness can be especially noticeable if the new hair is growing right next to a thinning area. This can be easily corrected by further hair transplant surgery.
- Large scars and post-surgery bleeding. The stress endured by the scalp during hair replacement surgeries can sometimes result in unsightly scars or bleeding. It is normal to see a few spots of blood on the gauze right after surgery, but for anything more consult your doctor immediately.
- Infection. Hair replacement surgery is a medical procedure. As with any surgical procedure there are risks involved and this includes the risk of infection even with the prescription of antibiotics.
Q. How long does it usually take to heal from a hair transplant procedure?
A. Some procedures must be repeated over and over to achieve desired results. It usually takes several months to heal in between surgeries, so it may sometimes take a patient up to two years before the desired outcome is achieved. Even after everything is said and done, touch up procedures of blending and filling-in the hairline may be necessary for the final polished and natural look.
Q. How much would it cost to get a hair transplant?
A. No matter what, the surgery is going to be quite expensive, and it depends on the severity of the patient's hair loss and amount of surgery required. For a fairly simply procedure, expect to pay at least $2,000 and up to $25,000. Hair flap surgery, scalp tissue expansion and scalp reduction surgery will cost more than a simple transplant. It's worth a look to see if your medical insurance might cover these procedures. Many surgeons are open to payment plans and there are even businesses that specialize in providing loans for hair transplants.
Q. What can I expect during hair transplant recovery?
A. Your surgeon will prescribe you painkillers and antibiotics to protect you from pain and infection. Sometimes a regular acetaminophen is just fine, and stronger medication is unnecessary. Immediately after the procedure the hair transplant surgeon will secure a bandage on the patient to be worn overnight to protect the sensitive skin and reduce swelling. The bandage can come off after a couple of days and the stitches removed in less than two weeks. After approximately one week you can gently wash your hair with a mild, non-medicated product. After about six weeks you should be healed enough to return for a second surgery if you have intentions to continue.
Q. How often should I wash my wig?
A. The more often you wear your wig the more washing it's going to need. Chances are you're wearing it everyday, so you should probably wash it every week and a half or so. Use your judgment because this is obviously different for everyone depending on your lifestyle. In addition, whether or not you use product in your hair and where you wear it (in a smoky bar, etc) could make a difference.
Q. Are wigs heavy?
A. Your wig shouldn't weigh any more than the hair you lost. Once it's on, and you get used to having hair again, you shouldn't even notice it's there.
Q. My hair is thinning quite rapidly, but it's not all gone yet. I want to start incorporating a wig into my every day life, but I'm afraid it's going to pull out the little hair I do have left. Can this happen?
A. Wearing a wig will not damage your own hair. Make sure you are following the instructions to put it on and take it off properly and there should be absolutely no damage done.
Q. I want to make sure I can part and style a wig before I decide to get one. Is this a possibility?
A. Of course. You should be able to part and style your wig however you please. However, some wigs are specially made to only part on one side, or the other, or just the middle, so make sure you check this out before you end up with one that parts only on the wrong side! Most wigs, however, are designed freestyle, which means they can be parted any which way you want.
Q. I'm having problems putting my wig on properly. Can you explain how to go about doing this the right way?
A. Your wig should have tabs just above the ears to indicate whether or not it is centered. The hairpiece should not overlap your ears, but should sit just behind them, sitting right at your natural hairline. Manipulate the hair at the front in a downward motion to give it a more natural look, then style as you normally would. The back should be pulled down as far as it can go, still feeling comfortable.
Q. Is there a proper way I should go about storing my hairpiece?
A. The best way to store a wig is on a wig stand or what's called a wire perch. This will help your hairpiece keep its shape and let the fresh air get to it when it's not in use. Make sure it's kept in a clean, ventilated area where it will be protected from dust and heat. Never store your wig in any kind of bag or box unless you're traveling because it will lose its luster and shape very quickly.
Q. Can I swim with a wig on?
A. Wigs are meant to become a regular part of your life, so swim away. However, strong tides could loosen a wig, especially if its adhesive is water-soluble. Also, be aware that salt, chlorine, bromine and even the sun can change the texture of the hair strand not to mention the color. Most wig wearers usually do the breaststroke to keep their heads above water or some even wear a bathing cap overtop of their wig. Wigs are usually pretty tolerant and you can sleep in them and do pretty much anything else you want without having to worry.
Q. I've always had shoulder length hair, but have always dreamed of the long, flowing Rapunzel type. How long can human hair extensions get and will my hair still look healthy and natural?
A. You can go long, but maybe not as long as you'd like with human hair extensions. Usually the maximum length available is 30" and any longer is rare to non-existent because it means it took the person who grew it up to ten years. After this, damage is bound to occur and the quality lessens with brittleness and split ends. Also, be aware that very long extensions can put stress on your scalp and cause damage to your own hair by adding an uncomfortable weight and pull. The best long hair length is around 22", which will still give the illusion of long, flowing hair and still be completely comfortable to wear day in and day out.
Q. I know that good quality hair extensions cost more. I don't have a lot of money and still want my hair to look good. Am I out of luck?
A. Visit your stylist for a consultation that may cost around $50 for one hour and talk through what you want for suitable extensions. Figure out some simple guidelines for how you want your extensions to look. Decide what kind of hair you want; whether its human hair or synthetic.
Also consider how long you want to keep them in for and don't forget to factor in the cost of care and maintenance. You won't get good quality hair for nothing and you won't get the best look possible with synthetic materials. You may have to make a compromise somewhere and either splurge for the materials you want or sacrifice premium quality.
Q. I always wear my hair in a ponytail. I really want extensions, but fear that after I get them I'll still need to get it off my neck once in awhile. Does this make me a bad candidate?
A. Not at all. Your hair from the nape and above will cover the point where the extensions were attached, which should be no lower than the base of your scalp, when your hair is up. Feel free to wear a ponytail, or any other up-do you want.
Q. I got extensions not too long ago and I seem to be losing a few now and then. Is this normal? Or did my stylist do a bad job?
A. You should be able to treat your extensions like they're growing from your head, just with a little extra care of course. The bond to your original hair should be strong enough that your extensions won't fall out with everyday wear. However, it is still quite normal to lose one here and there over time. If you notice you're losing large chunks there's a problem. This can be attributed to your hair not being long enough to begin with or the procedure itself could have been done improperly. Also, if you don't treat your extensions with special care they are bound to behave badly and possibly fall out due to brittleness.
Q. I'm really interested in getting extensions, but heard that it can really hurt. Is this true? Will I lose any of my real hair from the pulling in the process?
A. Getting hair extensions should be a positive experience and pain is not a part of that. Your tracks should be braided neatly and carefully with no areas tugging unevenly at your head. If your stylist tries to tell you its all part of the game, it's just not true. You should definitely not experience any hair loss of your own hair and nothing should hurt in the process. The sensation should feel like gravity telling you that something has been added and you shouldn't even notice it after a couple of days.