This author doctor has chosen to stay anonymous.Under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act, doctors can be warned, fined or suspended if they position themselves as an expert above their peers. Doctors also cannot use before/after photos in the article or state their preferences towards specific methods or techniques. The strict laws help uphold the repute of Singapore’s private healthcare scene and we strongly support it. Due to this, some doctors choose to stay anonymous so they can write more informative pieces.
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A lot of Singaporeans believe in the myth that hair loss is permanent. Yes, you heard that right. It is a myth, and there are actually ways to reverse hair loss and grow your hair again!
One common mistake that a lot of Singaporeans do is to not immediately go to a doctor for hair loss treatment. Often times, people would get swayed by hair loss treatment advertisements they see on TV or the internet.
Unfortunately, most of these advertised treatments are not backed by scientific research and often just rely on the power of marketing to get their customers. What’s worse, the agents selling these products have a way of persuading their customers to believe in the effectiveness of their products even if no visible effects are achieved. They often have a company spiel ready whenever they are asked why their product isn’t working, such as “Maybe you’re not using enough of the product” or “You probably need to get this higher, more expensive tier of our product to get results”.
It is sad to see a lot of people in Singapore prioritize these deceptive hair loss treatments instead of going directly to a licensed doctor that has the expertise, experience and scientific knowledge to tackle their problem.
There is still so much I want to say about hair loss that you will never learn from those short commercials you see on TV. I hope that the article I’ve written here would reach a lot of Singaporeans to help them make the correct decisions and avoid the traps of the hair loss treatment industry.
Hair Loss has a Negative Impact on Your Psychological and Social State
Humans are naturally social creatures and buried deep within our history as a species is the need to be noticed and acknowledged by our peers. Unfortunately, a side effect of this need is the urge to judge other people through their physical appearance.
It is why the term ‘first impression” is a thing. We judge a person’s whole being based on the first thing we will notice from them – not their personality or actions, but on how they look.
This is why hair loss is a very sensitive topic for a lot of people, especially famous people who put a great deal of importance on their appearance. Even Lebron James, one of the most famous basketball players in the world, has said that he feels insecure about his hairline.
Scientific research has shown that hair loss results in low self-esteem because of the belief that their attractiveness has fallen. Men, in particular, are 75% less confident if they suffer a form of hair loss.
Losing Hair is Normal… to a Certain Degree
According to science, it is normal to lose 100 to 150 hairs each day. In fact, the amount of lost hair per day is not the correct indication of whether or not it is normal. In fact, if you constantly lose an almost constant amount (even if it’s more than 150) of hair per day it is still considered normal as long as there is no drastic increase in the rate of hair loss.
If there is a drastic relative increase in the rate of hair loss (like 70% or more increase), then that is when you start to worry. For example, if you normally lose about 30 strands of hair each day but then suddenly lose 60 strands per day, you might want to talk to your hair doctor.
Thus, don’t focus too much on the amount of hair loss, but rather on the increase in the amount.
Hair Loss Treatments Not Backed by Medical Professionals and Science are Most Likely a Sham
Going back to the issue of advertised hair loss treatments, one good way to verify if a certain treatment is effective or not is by checking if it is backed by registered doctors that are specialized in the area of hair loss. More often than not, the hair loss treatments you see in advertisements are not backed by science and use a lot of buzzwords to confuse and deceive their customers.
Don’t be swayed by their celebrity endorsers. Most of the money spent by the hair loss treatment company is used on marketing and endorsers, instead of medical research on their treatment.
I cannot stress this enough: Always seek professional medical help for your hair loss.
What You Need to Do First if You Experience or Feel that You Have Hair Loss
If you experience hair loss or even if it’s just a hunch that you have hair loss, you should consult a dermatologist to diagnose your condition. There are several causes of hair loss and determining the root cause of your condition is essential in its proper treatment.
Your doctor will ask you for some information, such as your medical history, your lifestyle and family. He/she will also inspect your scalp and look for signs of hair loss. You may also be subjected to some tests that can help in the diagnosis.
Once the doctor gathers enough information, he/she will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis of the root cause of your hair loss. Once you know this cause, you can now start to get a treatment that is catered for your specific case.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Get Treatment!
It is very important that you do not delay medical treatment for your hair loss. The longer you start treatment, the lesser the chance that you will be able to recover hair that you already lost.
If you have hair loss, a process called miniaturization happens to your hair follicles that cause the hair’s diameter to shrink and makes if look thinner. Another side effect of miniaturization is that your hair will also be shorter compared to before.
Finally, if you wait too long, your hair follicles will shrink to a very small size wherein hair will stop growing entirely.
The Several Causes of Hair Loss
Before you can start treatment for your hair loss, it is vital that an accurate diagnosis is made with regards to its cause. Hair loss can be caused by several factors, namely:
- Hormonal Changes
- Nutrient Deficiency
- Excessive Pulling
- Hair Product Side Effect
- Medication Side Effect
A lot of times, hair loss is caused by a combination of these and will make it more challenging for treatment. Don’t worry though, because there are effective treatments for each of these causes.
Before we proceed with the different types of treatment though, let me first tackle one of the most common types of hair loss – male pattern hair loss.
What is Male Pattern Hair Loss?
Among Singaporean men suffering hair loss, the most common type is androgenetic alopecia or male pattern hair loss (MPHL). It affects about 70% of men, in which the percentage increases as age increases. About 85% of men aged fifty and above have MPHL. MPHL can affect men as young as 21 years old and the hair loss usually starts on both temples and the front hairline and eventually affects the rest of your scalp except for the back of the head.
The main cause of MPHL is hormones. Men with MPHL have a genetic sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes hair thinning, miniaturization and eventually, hair loss.
Medications for Male Pattern Hair Loss
The following are FDA-approved treatments for male pattern hair loss:
- Oral Finasteride
This medication slows down the progression of MPHL and is particularly effective in treating hair loss over the whole scalp except for the temples. The full effects of the medication are experienced after about 3 to 6 months of continuous use.
There are some side effects though, such as a weaker sex drive and ejaculatory dysfunction. These effects will disappear once you stop medication and are not permanent.
Finasteride costs around $70 to $120 per box, which is enough for a month.
Dutasteride is more effective than Finasteride when it comes to hair growth. Unfortunately, the side effects are also more frequent, which leads doctors do not recommend it for all besides the direst of MPHL cases.
Dutasteride costs around $40 to $70 per box, good for 1 month.
- Topical Minoxidil
Minoxidil is approved by the FDA as an MPHL treatment if applied topically as a spray. It is recommended that you rub Minoxidil into the scalp after spraying for better effectiveness. It was originally used as a medication for high blood pressure but was stopped as it causes excessive hair growth in high doses. Some side effects of Minoxidil include skin irritation and tachycardia (fast heartbeat).
Minoxidil sprays cost around $40 to $100 a bottle, depending on the concentration.
General Treatments for Hair Loss
- Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
LLLT is done via the application of low-power lasers or LEDs to the scalp. It works by increasing the blood flow in the scalp and reduces scalp inflammation.
Low-level laser therapy costs about $900 to $1250 in Singapore.
- Surgical Hair Transplant
Hair transplants are effective in treating almost all kinds of hair loss and is a permanent solution to increase the volume of hair. It is done by extracting hair follicles from the back and sides of the head (which are not affected by DHT) and implanting them on areas of your scalp that have hair loss. These transplanted hair follicles are still not affected by DHT even when transferred to an area of the scalp normally affected by it.
Surgical hair transplants cost about $4 to $12 per graft, which averages to around $8000 to $24000 for each treatment.
Again, Do Not Be Discouraged if You Have Hair Loss
Remember, hair loss does not need to be a permanent thing that you should just accept. Science and medical advancements have developed numerous solutions to hair loss, and it is important that you are aware of each of them. Who knows? Maybe in the future, someone can develop a solution that can prevent hair loss from even happening in the first place!
Always take note that you should be diagnosed correctly so that the proper steps can be taken for your treatment. Do not be swayed by hair loss product advertisements and instead, go directly to a licensed medical professional.