One medical condition that worries most men is hair loss, and this is not surprising given that it affects about 7 of every 10 men.
I have always wanted to write about the subject of (ok, time to get medical here) Androgenetic Alopecia, or commonly known as Male Pattern Hair Loss (MPHL). However, I wanted to make sure that I have the proper medical facts before diving into this very important issue for men. Finally, I met Dr Israr Wong, Medical Director of KAE Clinic Medical Aesthetics, an expert in the field of hair loss treatment and managed to get him to share some important facts about hair loss issues that concerns a lot of men.
HSD: Dr Wong, why is hair loss such an important issue for men?
Dr Wong: Hair is an important feature of self-image and its loss is associated with significant psychological morbidity. Scientific studies have shown that men who suffer from Androgenetic Alopecia (Male Pattern Hair Loss) are 75% less confident, especially when interacting with the opposite sex. Results also revealed that young men with hair loss have reported loss of self-esteem, introversion, and feeling unattractive to a higher degree than older men with hair loss. Of course, one needn’t a scientific study to prove those points, those feelings are a constant struggle in many men’s minds daily.
Any form of hair loss generates feelings of low self-esteem and anxiety from a perception of diminished attractiveness. It may be important to note the psychological/social improvement with successful treatment of male pattern hair loss.
HSD: Can you tell us excactly what is Androgenetic Alopecia?
Dr Wong: Androgenetic Alopecia, commonly known as Male Pattern Hair Loss (MPHL) is the most common cause of alopecia in men. It may affect up to 70% of men.
Hair loss begins in the teenage years, starting at both temples of the front hairline. The front hairline then starts to recede and form the M-shaped hairline. This further worsens into the typical U-shaped hairline in the last stages. The hair at the back and sides of the head is spared as they do not have the receptors for the culprit by-hormone causing Male Pattern Hair Loss. Therefore, they are so-called, the “stronger” hair follicles.
Testosterone is the hormone in all men that is important for male sexual characteristics and body development. Testosterone is converted by this enzyme known as 5-Alpha Reductase (5-AR) into a by-hormone known as Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT binds to androgen receptors with five times the tenacity of testosterone. DHT binding to the DHT receptors on hair follicles causes the hair to get thinner, more brittle, sparser and eventually baldness of the affected area.
MPHL is diagnosed clinically by a non-scarring typical pattern hair loss (just like in the Norwood Hamilton Classification) and no laboratory test is necessary, unless there is also a generalised thinning of hair. If there is a generalised thinning of hair, blood tests are necessary to ensure that other causes (e.g hormone deficiencies, vitamin deficiencies) are not contributing to the hair loss as well.
The widely used classification system is the Norwood-Hamilton classification. The severity of Male Pattern Hair Loss is based on the Norwood Hamilton classification system as shown above, with stages ranging from I to VII.
MPHL is an ongoing process, therefore medical treatments are long-term and cannot be stopped. If the treatments are stopped, hair loss resumes again within 2-3 months. Therefore, before seeking a doctor’s advice, you need to ask yourself : What is my motivation for seeking treatment, and is it strong enough for me to be able to be committed for treatment for the rest of my life? If your answer is “No”, then that means you are not ready for treatment and it is best for you to save your finances for other priorities in life.
HSD: Why is it important to see the right doctor for hair loss?
Dr Wong: Hair loss is a medical problem, much like other conditions like hypertension or hyperlipidaemia (high serum cholesterol and fat levels). When one has a medical condition, it is always best to seek professional medical advice from the appropriate doctors trained in the condition, no matter how early you catch it. Early consultation with a medical professional (doctors trained and highly interested in hair loss issues) is the ONLY thing an individual should do, when suffering from hair loss. This is because going to the relevant doctor would mean the difference between early restoration of hair versus spending tens of thousands and suffering from worsening hair loss.
Look out for the PART II of the our hair loss series as we speak to Dr Wong about the different types of treatments and dispel the confusion between seeing a medical doctor and a trichologists. If you have other questions on hair loss and would like to ask Dr Wong, you can drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, question and your contact number.
About Dr Israr Wong Kai Jie
Dr Israr Wong Kai Jie is the Medical Director of KAE Clinic Medical Aesthetics. He was conferred the Certificate of Aesthetic Medicine and the Masters of Hair Transplantation from the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine (AAAM), the Certificate of Hair Transplantation from Maxwell Hair Clinic of Gangnam, Seoul, and Certificates of Competence for general aesthetics issued by the Aesthetic Practice Oversight Committee of Singapore.
Dr Israr KJ Wong offers all-rounded expertise ranging from injectables (Botox, Fillers), chemicals and light rejuvenation of the skin (Super Skin Rejuvenation), skin lasers (Pixel™ Pro, Korean pigment laser), focused ultrasound facelift technology (Ulthera™) , Super Hair Removal (SHR™) and both surgical/non-surgical options of hair loss.
Dr Israr KJ Wong is also the aesthetic expert for the His Style Diary’s Grooming/Aesthetics section.