Hair loss experts recommend proper assessment at first signs of hair loss in youngsters
GENEVA, IL. – December 7, 2015. While hair loss at any age can be upsetting, it can be particularly hard when hair loss occurs in adolescents or young adults. And in the age of social media where posting selfies are the norm, premature hair loss can wreak havoc on these young people’s fragile self-esteem.
Since hair loss that occurs at a young age is not common, hair restoration physicians encourage those affected by hair loss to seek help at the first signs of a problem. With proper diagnosis and early intervention, hair loss can be stabilized and in some cases treated with proven medical or surgical therapies.
“We initially thought male and female patterns of hair loss—specifically those linked to hereditary causes—were the most frequent contributors to hair loss, but we have seen more cases recently in teenagers and younger patients in their 20s,” said David Perez-Meza, MD, FISHRS (Benalmadena, Malaga, Spain), and moderator of a workshop on managing difficult cases in the young patient at the recent ISHRS 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting. “We attribute this rise to a multitude of issues, such as crash diets, supplements, hormonal imbalances, food, medications, vitamin deficiency, autoimmune diseases, and stress, among others.”
Young people experiencing hair loss often turn to the Internet initially for hair loss solutions, but this offers little help in finding the appropriate option for their condition and can cause more confusion than education. Instead, Dr. Perez-Meza recommends those suffering from hair loss first seek professional advice from a physician specializing in hair loss for a consultation and evaluation to determine its cause. Once a thorough medical and personal history assessment are performed as well as a detailed scalp evaluation, hair loss physicians can recommend an appropriate treatment.
“Understandably, teenagers and young adults struggling with hair loss want their hair back as soon as possible but often have unrealistic hairline and density goals,” said Dr. Perez-Meza. “For that reason, they look to hair restoration surgery as the way of fulfilling their idealized hair pattern. Unfortunately, I tell my young patients that the miracle treatment for hair loss doesn’t exist, and most of the time hair transplant surgery is not the first or best option for them. Every case is different, which is why we customize our approach to treating hair loss in young people and help manage their expectations.”
Once the type of hair loss is determined, Dr. Perez-Meza noted there are different treatment options available.
For example, if a young male’s hair loss is diagnosed as male pattern hair loss or genetic hair loss, specific doses of finasteride and minoxidil can help some patients, as well as low-level laser therapy (LLLT). In many cases, a combination of these three therapies—approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—will have better results than one therapy. In some countries, therapies such as dutasteride, carboxytherapy, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and mesotherapy are also offered, but results are inconsistent. For young females with female pattern hair loss, treatments include minoxidil, LLLT, cyproterone acetate, and spironolactone.
While today’s hair restoration surgery—performed by specially trained physicians using the latest surgical techniques to restore new hair growth in thin or bald areas—safely and effectively creates natural-looking, permanent results, adolescents and young adults with male or female pattern hair loss are typically not good candidates for this surgery. In fact, a new member survey conducted by the ISHRS shows that in 2014 only 4 percent of male and female surgical patients treated by ISHRS members worldwide were under 20 years old.
“If we perform hair restoration surgery on a young patient, we may partially resolve the problem in the short-term, but not in the long-term, as genetic hair loss is progressive,” explained Dr. Perez-Meza. “We need to maximize the donor area. In some selective cases with stable hair loss and some specific cases where the hair loss area will not progress or continue, a hair transplant might be a good option. Good candidates are young patients with realistic expectations, stable hair loss, good donor area, and early stages of hair loss.”
Patients who are not good candidates for hair restoration surgery could experience complications, which makes it extremely important for young patients to understand their options. After an initial consultation, Dr. Perez-Meza often advises young patients to return for a second or third evaluation or seek a second or third opinion about their hair loss and possible treatments.
About the ISHRS
The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) is a global non-profit medical association and a leading authority on hair loss treatment and restoration with more than 1,200 members throughout 70 countries worldwide. Above all, the ISHRS is dedicated to achieving excellence in patient outcomes by promoting the highest standards of medical practice, medical ethics, and research in the medical hair restoration industry. The ISHRS also provides continuing medical education to physicians specializing in hair transplant surgery and is committed to delivering the latest information on medical and surgical treatments to consumers suffering from hair loss, and most commonly from androgenetic alopecia—male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss. It was founded in 1993 as the first international society to promote continuing quality improvement and education for professionals in the field of hair restoration surgery. For more information and to locate a physician, visit www.ishrs.org.