According to a survey by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), over 1 in 5 Americans are losing their hair — about 35 million men and 21 million women. Despite being extremely common, however, hair loss can still be detrimental to one’s self-esteem. There’s good news, though: hair loss can be prevented if caught early, and if you’ve already suffered loss, your hair can be restored. Practices like Anderson Center for Hair in Atlanta offer patients this opportunity for reinvention by offering preventive treatments and procedures, restorative transplants, and above all else, education. We sat down with Dr. Daniel Lee of the Anderson Center to discuss what options people experiencing hair loss have to become a better, more confident version of themselves.
When it comes to hair loss, there’s nothing more important than taking preventive measures. If you’re first starting to notice significant hair loss, no matter your age, Dr. Lee suggests looking into prevention as soon as possible.
“The earlier you start [prevention], the better,” Dr. Lee told Georgia Voice. “At first sign that you’re noticing a bunch of hair falling out, that’s when it’s time to do something about it. If you wait, you’ll have to deal with an emptier scalp … I have guys coming in that are 18 years old starting prevention.”
There are four prevention methods Dr. Lee suggests. The first is a prescription medication called finasteride, which blocks an enzyme linked with hair loss. The second is Rogaine, an over-the-counter topical treatment that increases blood flow to the scalp. The third is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections, where nutrients from platelets are injected directly into the follicles. The fourth, used by Dr. Lee himself, is Low-level Laser Therapy (LLLT), a cap that uses light of a particular wavelength that’s absorbed by the follicle cells to grow healthier hair. The Anderson Center offers both PRP and LLLT.
“These are the only four things that are proven to work,” Dr. Lee said. “Shampoos and vitamins might help a little, but they’re not going to stop your hair loss.”
For most people, these prevention methods will simply keep the hairs they still have on their heads; a lucky few will actually experience some regrowth, while an unlucky few might see no loss prevention at all. If you’re at a point where you want more hair on your head, then a transplant might be right for you. That doesn’t mean that you get to skip over prevention, however.
“A transplant does nothing about the hairs that you still have that have the potential to fall out,” Dr. Lee said. “Prevention is super important, even for someone who is having a transplant.”
When a patient gets a hair transplant, hair follicles from the back of their scalp where hair isn’t susceptible to the genetic factors promoting hair loss (called the donor site) are extracted and moved to the site of loss. After the follicles are extracted, Dr, Lee will then design a hairline for the patient and make sites in the scalp for transplantation.
“It’s really important to make [the hairline] natural looking, age appropriate, and timeless,” he said. “The hairs we transplant never fall out; whatever we do is going to be there 20 or 40 years from now.”
After the hairs are transplanted comes the two-week recovery process, and then comes the waiting. As the follicle starts to grow new hair, the old hairs fall out, and it will take four months before you start to see growth and 12 to 15 months before you see the full results. But the wait is worth it.
“The big thing I hear from folks is that [hair restoration] builds their confidence,” said Dr. Lee. “When someone comes back and says, ‘I just feel so much about myself,’ I mean, what more could you ask for as a physician than that?”
If you’re unsure which prevention or transplantation method is right for you, Dr. Lee offers thorough education.
“People read whatever they want on the internet; a big part of what I do is sift through it all with the patient and tell them what’s really true,” said Dr. Lee. “I spend a lot of time during consults, about 45 minutes, educating them on hair loss, prevention, and what’s realistic and achievable.”
No matter where you decide to go for your hair restoration, Dr. Lee implores that you do your research on the provider.
“There’s no regulation of the industry, so any doctor can advertise being a hair restoration surgeon. The ISHRS is our field’s overseeing body. Anyone worth their salt is part of this society. Whoever you go to, make sure they’ve got the credentials to do it.”
For more information on the Anderson Center, visit atlantahairsurgeon.com.