In Shakespeare’s play “The Comedy of Errors”, characters make the rueful observation that Father Time is unkind to men, causing them to lose hair as they age. And, other than wearing a wig (“the lost hair of another man”) there isn’t much a man can do about it.
“There’s no time for a man to recover his hair who goes bald by nature,” puns the character Dromio of Syracuse (Act II, Scene 2).
Dromio’s words may have echoed Shakespeare’s personal experience: the pictures we have of him with his ‘high forehead’ show a man with progressive male-pattern hair loss.
“The Comedy of Errors” first played in London in 1594. That’s more than 400 years ago, when the horse was still the fastest mode of transportation, people wrote letters to communicate over distances, and men had no choice but to accept male-pattern baldness as a fact of nature for which there was no remedy.
In the 21st Century we fly to London from New York is less time than it took Shakespeare to ride by horse-drawn carriage from London to his home in Stratford-on-Avon. We disdain ‘snail mail’ in favor of instant communication anywhere in the world by e-mail and cell phone. These are technologic advances that are part of our everyday lives.
In the 21st Century, however, there are still men who feel constrained to accept male-pattern baldness as a ‘fact of nature’, even though medical and surgical methods of hair restoration are readily available.
It’s Normal to Dislike Hair Loss
From the 1950s into the 21st Century, medical and surgical methods of hair restoration have been developed and steadily improved (See Surgical Treatments for Hair Restoration and Nonsurgical Options for Hair Restoration). Medical and surgical treatments for hair loss have literally undone the effects of male-pattern baldness for tens of thousands of men who decided that baldness was something they did not have to endure.
Some men who could take advantage of hair restoration technologies are still hesitant. They are, perhaps, unable to give themselves permission to ignore ages-old beliefs about men and hair loss-beliefs that still tell men:
- Pattern hair loss is ‘normal’ and has to be accepted; it’s part of ‘being a man’
- No matter how much hair loss may trouble a man and lower his self-esteem, he has to pretend it does not
- No matter how much hair loss may trouble a man and lower his self-esteem, he has to accept teasing about it with good grace
Persistent beliefs like these can discourage a man from seeking treatment for his hair loss. A man who still accepts these old beliefs may perceive an implied threat that he would suffer a still greater loss of self-esteem if friends and co-workers made fun of his hair-loss treatment-to his face or behind his back.
The 21st Century man is more likely to ignore old beliefs that tell him he has to accept his hair loss. Rather than accepting hair loss that he dislikes, he accepts hair restoration as a ‘normal’ response to a ‘normal’ effect of being a male.
Why should a man live with a cosmetically unacceptable condition when science and medicine offer ways to eliminate it? A man can eliminate many such conditions that were considered untreatable in earlier times. For example, a man may:
- Consult with an orthodontist and be fitted with braces to treat a dental malocclusion that he believes detracts from his appearance;
- Have replacements for front teeth knocked out by a flying puck in a hockey game
- Have dermatologic surgery to remove acne scars that troubled him since adolescence
- Undertake a diet and exercise regimen to lose weight and alter body image
Although hair restoration surgery is considered “cosmetic surgery”, it is a surgery that gives back all or part of what was lost. Unlike breast augmentation, where some patients seek more than they originally had, hair restoration surgery merely returns the patient to the original cosmetic state. Satisfied patients report increased self-esteem and “one less thing to worry about”.
It is never too late to seek treatment for male-pattern hair loss. (Or, for female-pattern hair loss- See Hair Loss & Female Pattern Baldness). Physician hair restoration specialists do recommend that treatment begin when hair loss is in early stages; treatment that begins early, especially treatment with minoxidil (Rogaine®) and/or finasteride (Propecia®), can often keep pace with hair loss so that frank baldness never occurs. When hair loss is very advanced less donor hair from non-bald areas of the scalp is available for transplantation; while scalp coverage may be satisfactory it will never be as dense as the coverage before hair loss began.
Recent popularity of the completely shaved scalp has encouraged some men with hair loss to adopt the ‘Michael Jordan look’ in lieu of hair restoration. While scalp shaving effectively disguises hair loss it also conceals hair loss progression. A man who has opted for the shaved scalp may find his hair loss well advanced if and when he decides to seek hair restoration.
Would Shakespeare have had hair restoration if it had been available to him? We can’t know the answer to that question, of course. What we do know is that the ever-perceptive Shakespeare let his characters talk about hair loss as something that all Sixteenth Century men disliked, but none could do anything to correct. Today, many men have done something about it with results no natural you’d never know they had surgery. Get the real answers and consult with your local physician hair restoration specialist.