Androgenic Alopecia: Causes and Remedies - Studio Conceal

Androgenic Alopecia: Causes and Remedies

Do you notice a significant amount of hair fall when you take a shower? Has your frontal hair formed an “M” shape? Do you have thinning hair? Are you suffering from severe hair loss?

If all your answers are “Yes”, you may need to go to your doctor and seek advice and medical treatments. Your symptoms look like you have androgenic alopecia.

What is Androgenic Alopecia?

Androgenic alopecia, also called androgenetic alopecia, is a genetic condition that affects both men and women. It is the most common type of hair loss in men. In fact, several studies from the US National Library of Medicine have revealed that more than 50 percent of men over 50 years of age are likely to be affected by it.

hair tattoo before and after

There are a lot of genetic and environmental factors that play a role in causing androgenic alopecia. There have been a lot of studies that focus on studying the risk factors that contribute to this condition. However, most of these factors remain unknown up to this day.

There is only one thing that dermatology researchers are sure of.

Recent research has revealed that this form of hair loss is related to hormones called androgens. Specifically, the androgen called dihydrotestosterone.

What are androgens?

Androgens are the group of hormones that are responsible for regulating hair growth and sex drive. They are important for the sexual development of males before they are born and also during puberty.

Each strand of hair grows from structures under the skin called the hair follicle. Hair growth cycle continues for two to six years. Then, goes into a resting phase for several months, then eventually falls out.

The hair growth cycle starts again when the hair follicle starts to grow new hair. High levels of androgens in hair follicles leads to a shorter cycle of hair growth. Increased androgens also affect the health of the hair which results in shorter and thinner strands.

Androgen Receptors

Researchers also suspect that there are several genes that may play a role in androgenetic alopecia. However, they have confirmed that variations in the AR gene plays a major factor. The AR gene is responsible for making a protein called the androgen receptor.

Androgen receptors allow the body to respond to dihydrotestosterone and to other androgens. Certain studies suggest that AR gene variations lead to increased activity of androgen receptors in the hair follicles.

However, it is still unclear how the genetic changes increase the risk of hair loss in men and women with androgenetic alopecia.

Researchers are still investigating and looking for the connection between androgenic alopecia and other medical conditions, like coronary heart disease, prostate cancer in men, and polycystic ovary syndrome in women. Stress and hormonal imbalance, and genetics cause hair loss too.

The above-mentioned disorders are believed to be associated with elevated androgen levels. It may help to explain the reason why androgen-related hair loss occurs. There may also be other unidentified genetic and hormonal factors that may be involved.

Androgenic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss in both males and females. In the US, this form of hair loss affects 50 million males and 30 million females. 

Male Pattern Baldness

Androgenic alopecia in men is also called male pattern baldness. Men with this condition may begin to suffer hair loss as early as their teens, or even younger in rare cases. It is characterized by the disappearance of hair from the forehead and the crown.

Men who have androgenic alopecia experience loss of hair in a well-defined pattern. It begins above the left and right temples. As it progresses, hair loss occurs and the hairline recedes to form an “M” shape.

male pattern baldness

Credits: Flickr

Men with male pattern hair loss usually experience their hair thinning out at the crown. In most cases, it progresses to partial or complete baldness. Male pattern baldness has also been associated with many other diseases, including coronary heart disease and prostate enlargement.

Other diseases related to male pattern hair loss are prostate cancer, insulin resistance disorders such as diabetes and obesity, and high blood pressure or hypertension.

Female Pattern Baldness

On the other hand, women who have androgenic alopecia do not experience noticeable thinning of hair until they are in their 40s, or even later. Female pattern baldness is usually characterized by the general thinning over the entire scalp. Women who have this experience extensive hair loss at the crown.

The pattern of hair loss in women is significantly different from male pattern baldness. In females, the hair all over the head becomes thinner, and they do not experience a receding hairline. Unlike male pattern baldness, androgenetic alopecia in women rarely leads to total baldness.

female pattern baldness

Female Pattern Baldness Credits: Wikimedia

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, female pattern hair loss usually begins when a woman reaches her midlife, during her 40s to 60s. However, there are some recorded cases where it began earlier.

Female pattern hair loss progresses as time passes. Women with this condition continue to lose hair. However, unlike male pattern hair loss, women do not lose all of their hair. They will only experience the receding of hair near their temples.

Hair loss in women can be lessened with treatment. Treatment can prevent hair loss from getting worse and help women to regrow their hair. They may expect best results if they start treatment at the first sign of hair loss.

Female pattern hair loss is hereditary. Women with this condition inherit the genes of their mother and father, or both. Since female pattern baldness is more common after menopause, there is a possibility that hormones play a role, too.

Androgenic alopecia in women is also associated with the increased risk of polycystic ovary syndrome. Stress, hormonal imbalance, weight gain, and genetics can also be some of the causes of hair loss in women.

Early Signs of Androgenic Alopecia

Seeking medical advice from healthcare professionals on the early stages of hair loss is the best thing to do. Early medical treatment can help correct hair loss.

Here are the early signs of androgenic alopecia.

Excess hair loss after shower

Losing hair after a shower is completely normal. Losing 50-100 strands after every shower is fine. However, if you notice excessive hair loss, that could be a warning sign.

If you are having extra hair in the brush or comb that is more than the normal, you should definitely seek medical advice. Identifying the cause of hair loss gives you the chance to correct the problem.

Receding Hairline

Men may notice that their hair begins to recede at the hairline on the forehead. As it progresses, it forms a letter “M”. More scalp on the frontal hairline can be seen in people with male pattern hair loss. Androgenic alopecia in men causes the classic horseshoe pattern of hair loss at the base of the scalp. 

In women, the part where they experience hair loss gets bigger as the condition progresses. Receding hairline in older women over the age of 50 is an increasingly common hair loss pattern.

Still, you must seek medical advice if you notice something which is out of the ordinary. 

Bald Spots

Another warning sign that you should seek medical advice is when you notice circular or patchy bald spots, and even on the beard, or eyebrows. Your skin may also itch before the hair actually falls out.

These bald spots may grow very slowly in one area. You may also notice a patch or a strip of hair loss within one to two days. Remember that balding is not normal, so you should check your dermatologist for medical advice.

alopecia areata bald spots

Bald Spots Credit Wikimedia

Thinning Body Hairs

Another early sign of androgenic alopecia is the thinning of body hair. People with this condition do not only lose hair on their head. Alopecia is a condition that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicle. 

Hair loss in the scalp is the most common, but it is possible to lose hair all over the body, too. Pattern baldness can cause bald spots on the eyebrows, lashes, beard, nose hairs, and even pubic hairs. In severe cases, it may eventually lead to losing hair over the entire body.

Thinning body hairs may also be a symptom of other health conditions. It is best to seek medical advice once you notice this symptom.

Hair Shedding

If you are under physical or emotional stress, hair shedding occurs. Stress triggers particular hormones that cause the hairs to loosen and eventually fall. Some health problems may also be a reason for hair shedding.

It is completely normal to shed hair from time to time, but if you notice an unusual amount of hair shedding, you must go to your dermatologist and seek medical advice and treatment.

Treatments for Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia can be treated either through medicines or surgical procedures. Here are the treatment options that are most recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Products

There are only two drugs that are US FDA-approved for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: minoxidil and finasteride.

Minoxidil

Rogaine is the most dermatologist-recommended brand of minoxidil. Minoxidil lengthens the duration of the anagen phase, which may increase the blood supply to the follicle. The user may expect regrowth at the vertex more than the frontal areas for a period of four months.

The consistent use of Minoxidil Rogaine as a topical treatment to male pattern hair loss is necessary because discontinuation of the treatment produces a rapid reversion to the balding pattern before it was treated.

Minoxidil

Treating androgenetic alopecia is not one size fits all. There are patients who respond well to a drug while there are others who don’t. Patients who respond well to minoxidil are those who have recently had an onset of androgenic alopecia and small areas of hair loss.

Minoxidil is marketed as a 2% or a 5% solution, with the 5% being more effective. A case study was conducted and it has revealed that patients who used the 5% solution for a period of three months experienced up to 45 percent of hair regrowth.

Generally, women respond better to topical minoxidil than men. 

Finasteride

Unlike the minoxidil, this one is administered orally. It is a 5-alpha reductase type 2 inhibitor, it is not an antiandrogen. Finasteride can only be used for male pattern hair loss, because if this drug is used by a pregnant woman, it can produce ambiguous genitalia in a developing male fetus. 

Recent findings show that finasteride diminishes the progression of male pattern hair loss. It has also helped stimulate the regrowth of hair in many patients.

Like the minoxidil, finasteride also affects the vertex more than the frontal hair. However, the medication has increased the regrowth of hair in the frontal area. It should also be used continuously because discontinuation of this treatment results in the gradual progression of male pattern hair loss.

Keep in mind that Finasteride has been found to negatively impact males in terms of impotence, loss of interest in sex, abnormal ejaculation, among others.

Surgical Treatment

In the past decades, dermatologists have successfully performed surgical treatments for androgenic alopecia. Aesthetics-wise, the results of surgical treatments are often satisfactory. However, surgeons are having a hard time covering the bald area with sufficient donor plugs or follicles.

Micrograft Hair Transplantation

Micrograft hair transplants can restore the hair and bring the patient a natural-looking and thicker head of hair, all while reestablishing the hairline. 

This technique is done by removing small grafts of hair which usually contains one to four strands of hair using small incisions which are stitch closed. These extracted hair follicles are then planted into the part with bald spots.

The small grafts are transplanted in a manner that mimics how the hair grows naturally, for a better aesthetic result. While this has worked for some, it is sadly not the case all the time, there are many ways hair transplants can go wrong, including infection.

Scalp reduction surgery

Scalp reduction surgery is the procedure that is done on both males and females with androgenetic alopecia, especially those who have top-hair baldness. This procedure involves moving the skin on the scalp that has hair to cover the bald spots. Skin from the sides of the head might be pulled up and stitched together if the top of the head is bald.

The surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, the patient won’t have to stay overnight in the hospital. The patient can go home right after the procedure, but they would need someone to accompany them and drive them home.

Before the procedure, the doctor will give the patient general anesthesia. The procedure will start with the surgical cutting of the bald part of the scalp. The next step involves the loosening of the skin in the areas where the patient has hair. The surgeon will then pull the skin up and cover it to the balding part.

The flaps will be stitched together to keep them in place.

Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP)

There are medications and surgical treatment available for patients who have androgenic alopecia, but they can be costly and there have been cases when they are not effective. Surgical solutions to hair loss have negative effects like transplant scarring and aesthetic issues.

Of the options for baldness in this post, scalp micropigmentation has the best outcome for pattern alopecia if we are to consider cost, effectiveness, safety, and ease of maintenance. SMP is a non-invasive treatment that makes use of detailed micro-needles to deposit pigment into the scalp.

The results mimic the appearance of tiny hair follicles that help thicken and restore the look of fuller hair. If your hair is thinning, receding, or if you have gotten completely bald, Studio Conceal will give you the chance to feel yourself again.

hair tattoo before and after

Here is Studio Conceal, I have had many clients who got their confidence back after I restored the look of a full head of hair after alopecia, hair loss, or a receding hairline, and even camouflage transplant scarring.

With SMP, natural follicles give the look of a thicker head of hair by adding density to the thinning areas to create the illusion of healthier and thicker hair.

We use cosmetic pigmentation and state-of-the-art equipment to restore your natural hairline and add density to the thinning areas. We also make sure that our work will blend seamlessly into your existing hair.

There is one more reason why you should get Scalp Micropigmentation It requires little to no maintenance. You will always look like you freshly got a haircut. Scalp micropigmentation has changed the life of our clients in the best way possible.

Here at Studio Conceal, our aim is to help restore your confidence. Contact us for an initial online consultation.

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What is SMP?

Scalp Micro Pigmentation (SMP) was developed as both a cosmetic procedure for men and women suffering with all types of hair loss, and as a medical procedure to help conceal scars, burns, birthmarks, as well as the full spectrum of alopecia. During the SMP procedure, a blend of unique pigments specifically formulated for the client are deposited into the dermal layer of the skin on the scalp. These deposits create an extremely realistic illusion that replicates hair follicles. SMP is a viable alternative to traditional hair transplant surgery, hair systems, pills, and fibers.. Around the world, thousands of clients live their lives free from hair loss without lengthly maintenance routines, unwelcome side effects or signifiant ongoing financial outlay.

Does scalp micropigmentation look real?

A typical scalp hair from a Caucasian woman is about 77 micrometers in diameters (67 Um in those of Asian descent, and 120 Um in those African descent). Typically, SMP dots placed in the dermis layer are 90-140 micrometers in diameter.

While this might seem a bit larger than a real human hair, this slight difference is virtually indistinguishable from real hair follicles. Often, when viewed 1 foot away, close friends and family will not be able to tell where real hair ends and the SMP begins.

What causes hair loss?

As hair on the scalp goes through it’s normal cycle of growing and shedding, DHT makes the follicles miniaturize. That means they get thinner and shorter because the growing cycle doesn’t last as long. The growing cycle becomes so brief that new hairs can’t grow through the skin. For women, hair loss can be caused by an imbalance of thyroid hormones, pregnancy, disease and certain medications.

How long will SMP last for?

With proper care and treatment, including using high sunscreen when outside, SMP will commonly last for many years. For a healthy client with a normal immune system, we expect that the color will last with original vibrance for about 4-6 years, with gradual fading of the pigment to last up to 8 years.

Fortunately, if a touch up is needed, a fee is charged which is generally cheaper per session than the original treatment fee. It’s important to note that each individual is different so an estimated range of longevity will be provided at our consultation meeting.

Will SMP fade, smear, or turn blue as the years pass?

Any pigment applied to the dermal layer of the skin will eventually fade, but we expect SMP to last several years or more, before even minimal fading is noticed. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun often breaks apart some tattoo inks for easier absorption by the body, resulting in increased fade rates and slight smearing. As the inks are degraded, their chromophores are often altered resulting in changed color. If this occurs, we can easily offer touch up sessions, or revise the ink color by adding additives to mute, neutralize, or warm up the tone again.

Is SMP reversible? Is receiving SMP treatment painful?

Yes, SMP pigmentation can be removed with an electro-optic Q switched laser, which is used to heat and break-up the SMP pigmentation for easier absorption by phagocytes in the dermis. SMP is fairly easy to remove in most cases because the pigment is not deposited as deeply as normal tattoo ink. The electro-optic laser, however is expensive and therefore, many clinics which advertise laser removal do not actually own one.

As for pain, it depends on the individual. In some cases, clients have fallen asleep while I have completed treatment. In other cases, clients experience pain across the temples or above the ears during treatment. Most clients rate their pain on a scale of 1-10, as 3-5 during treatment.

How long will it take for my final SMP appearance to form?

A normal client depending on hair loss extent, will take two to four treatments to achieve their final appearance. Most treatments are 2-3 hours long with small breaks as needed. The first treatment often places a very light application on the scalp to assess fading and density levels. The normal reaction from many clients is to assume that the SMP is too light. However, this is a normal part of the treatment and allows me to better treat the scalp in later sessions. The second treatment is 10-14 days later, and adds the majority of the density to your new look. Treatments three or later are usually for completing the look, addressing darkness matching or to even the density across the scalp.

What will my scalp look like immediately after treatment?

The area of the scalp that has been treated will have some redness for 24 hours after treatment, though this tends to be less visible on darker skin tones. In addition, the pigmentation will be darker for up to 7 days after treatment, again, depending on your skin tone. Thereafter, the pigmentation will appear to become lighter and softer as the pigment filled scabs begin to flake away. These scabs flake away in the first 3 to 10 days. As this happens, it appears to the observer that the SMP dots are shrinking. When the healing process is complete, the final dots are often 90 to 170 Um in diameter and blend seamlessly into any natural hair. By about one month, after any treatment, the pigments will begin to “set” and thereafter, fading will be almost zero.

How do I choose a hairline? If I have hair left, can I leave it long?

If you are unsure of what style or type of hairline will work or you, I will be there to help. With an artistic eye and experience on how to fit a hairline to head shape and age, I can help recommend what’s best. Over the course of our sessions, we can tweak and adjust the hairline for the perfect, natural result.

Depending upon the pattern and extent of your current hair, some clients are able to maintain a longer length. Scalp micropigmentation can help thicken areas so that less of the scalp is seen showing through. However, if there is a strong pattern of hair loss or just not a lot of hair density left, the client is recommended to crop it shorter.

Can Studio Conceal camouflage my transplant scar?

Yes, absolutely! By replicating tiny hair follicles inside the scarring and blending the color around the scarring area, transplant and surgical scars can see massive improvement in concealment.

DOES THIS TREATMENT REMOVE STRETCH MARKS?

Other than a tummy tuck, or the literal removal of skin, there is no proven way to remove stretch marks. The Stretch Mark Camouflage Tattoo only helps to conceal and diminish the appearance of stretch marks so that they are less perceptible to the naked eye. Think of it as having a permanent filter, taking away the white contrast of your scars.

IS THE TREATMENT SUITABLE FOR ALL SKIN TYPES?

Generally, yes! However, there are a small number of people who the treatment would not be suitable for. Your stretch marks and scars need to be at least two years old, lighter than your skin tone and completely healed. Booking a virtual consultation can help determine if you’re a candidate for this procedure and is required for all clients.

CAN I GET TATTOOED IF MY SKIN IS ALREADY TANNED?

We prefer to match only your natural skin tone, and require that our clients postpone their session until their tan has faded. This ensures that we are able to custom blend an ink color that will look most natural whether you’re tanned or not.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I TAN?

Your camouflaged stretch marks and scars will not change color. If you tan, your skin’s overtone will darken, but your stretch marks will remain the same color as your natural skin-toned ink tattoo. Overall, your stretch marks will still be camouflaged because the “white” is no longer there. In short, there’s less of an obvious contrast. Here’s a great video explaining what happens to your stretch mark tattoos when you tan.

WILL IT HURT? DO YOU NUMB YOUR CLIENTS?

The Stretch Mark Camouflage Tattoo is a penetrative skin procedure so a small amount of discomfort will be experienced. Usually on a scale 1-10 (10 being most painful), the average consensus is a 6 or 7. We do not numb our clients to avoid any interference to the purity and insertion of pigment into the scar. In addition, your pain receptors will be heightened if you’re on your monthly cycle, and so we suggest you book your session/touch ups accordingly.

CAN I GET THE TREATMENT WHILE PREGNANT OR BREAST-FEEDING?

Congratulations on your pregnancy, but unfortunately, we are unable to treat women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. We look forward to treating you once your little one is weaned and your scars have been fully healed (usually within two years).

HOW WILL I LOOK IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS?

There’s little to no downtime. Most Clients can resume work the same day, or even fly home after their session. It’s normal to experience redness and swelling immediately after the procedure for 1-3 days. For the first 3 days, you’ll be given strict instructions on how to minimize inflammation, speed up the wound healing phase, and how to “ice” the area and keep it clean. Over the next few weeks, the redness will dissipate and go through a variety of shades (from dark to light) until your skin heals. We’ll be in contact with you every step of the way.

HOW QUICKLY WILL I SEE RESULTS?

Everyone’s skin is different. Variables include age, diet, hormones, general health, overtones, sun exposure, etc and so it’s impossible to give an exact number of days it will take you to heal. On average, it takes 45-60 days, but if you’re prone to hyper-pigmentation (you naturally scar dark), it will most likely take longer to heal. During your consultation, we can discuss and assess your skin’s estimated timeline and variables.
*Here’s a recent case study of our fastest healing client to help you speed along your recovery!

HOW LONG WILL THE RESULTS OF THE PROCEDURE LAST?

The Stretch Mark Camouflage Tattoo is a penetrative skin treatment that’s only been around for 6-7 years. According to our industry, it’ll last 5 years, or more provided that the correct after-care procedures are adhered to. You may or may not need a touch up after 5-6 years. Remember, a stretch mark is a scar and so the skin is trickier to penetrate. In addition, as we age, all tattoos transition and change on our skin because there’s less elasticity and melanin production. This can effect your stretch mark camouflage tattoo, as well.

WHAT IS THE COST OF THE PROCEDURE?

The total cost of the procedure varies greatly per technician and is dependent on the location and severity of the stretch marks or scar requiring treatment. Studio Conceal charges anywhere between $500-$2,000/ per area. We require an initial consultation (in-person or virtual) free of charge with zero pressure, during which the final cost can be determined by a formal quote.

DO YOU OFFER PAYMENT PLANS?

Yes we do! We’ve partnered with United Medical Credit to offer easy, reliable financing for all camouflage services and training. It’s really easy to apply and only takes 3 minutes to get approved. They’ll do a soft credit check to determine your options and will be in contact with you in 24 hours. Apply for financing of tattoo treatment or training here, hassle free.

STRETCH MARK CAMOUFLAGE TATTOO VS. LASER TREATMENTS?

While Laser Treatments do work on stretch marks by damaging the skin’s outer layer and forcing it to heal itself, they do not put color back into the skin. So almost all clients who get Laser Treatments for their stretch marks still have noticeable stretch marks. In fact, many of our clients have had many Laser Treatment procedures prior to walking into our studio. Another huge difference is the cost of that treatments. Laser Treatments could run $1,000 to $3,000 per session, and can easily end up costing the client over $10,000 overall.
*Here’s a short video going over the differences of microneedling vs. laser vs. the stretch mark camouflage tattoo