Hairy good

  • Health
  • Sunday, 06 Jul 2014

Hippocrates, father of modern medicine

Do you ever get suspicious when your friend starts wearing caps and hats more often? Or when your friend starts cropping his or her Facebook photos at the level of the forehead to hide the hairline?

To most people, a full head of hair represents desirability and attractiveness, both personally and professionally. For this reason, a hair restoration procedure can have tremendous positive impact on your daily interactions with people and in all other aspects of your life.

A whopping 40 million men and 21 million women worldwide suffer from male/female pattern baldness or thinning hair. Awareness about hair loss is at an all-time high now due to the current competitive nature of the job market and awareness from social media.

Luckily, help is at hand. Modern medicine offers a range of effective treatment for hair loss for both genders. One can choose to save his or her crowning glory by visiting the friendly neighbourhood aesthetic doctor, dermatologist or plastic surgeon, and discuss the options available.

For male pattern balding, your doctor may choose to prescribe you with a tablet called finasteride. Finasteride is used to reduce the adverse effects of the body’s natural hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Balding is primarily due to the effects of DHT. It was reasoned that finasteride would help stop or reverse the process as this drug blocks the formation of DHT.

United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) trials on 1,500 men yielded incredible results. Approximately 83% of men who were on treatment for two years stopped losing hair, or even started regrowing more hair. Results were confirmed by actual hair count or visual assessment.

To date, finasteride has the longest, most successful run of any treatment to have undergone FDA trials.

Minoxidil (2% or 5% solution) is a spray or lotion that you put directly on your scalp twice a day to treat inherited hair loss (androgenetic alopecia), which is the most common cause of hair loss.

Minoxidil slows hair loss and grows new hair. In men, the 5% solution appears to be more effective than the 2% solution, but it costs more and may have more side effects.

Minoxidil appears to increase hair follicles and also thickens the shafts of existing hair so that it grows thicker. Unlike finasteride, which is usually only used for men, minoxidil has been approved for both men and women.

Some people who take minoxidil only grow hair that is thin and wispy, similar to peach fuzz. Minoxidil seems to work best on people younger than 30 years of age who have been losing hair for fewer than five years. Minoxidil sprays can be combined with oral finasteride for even better results.

Hair transplantation is a procedure in which hair is removed from hair-bearing areas such as the back of the head (called the donor area) and transplanted to balding areas such as the front of the scalp or the crown of the head (the recipient area).

The patient is given local anaesthesia or sedation to minimise discomfort. Surgeons may excise a 8mm to 10mm wide strip of hair from the donor area, and then divide it into small sections containing up to four or five strands of hair.

The donor site is sutured closed, leaving only a narrow scar when the wound is completely healed in seven to 10 days.

Small incisions are made in the recipient area using either small bore needles or blades. The grafts from the donor site are then carefully transferred onto the recipient sites. Two to three months later, the hair will start to regrow.

Nowadays, doctors can use the Punch Hair Matic machine to automate the surgical removal, collection, and placement of individual hair follicles, eliminating the need for doctors to remove a large strip from the back of the scalp.

The targeted removal of individual hair follicles is known as “follicular-unit extraction” (FUE).It is a minimally-invasive microsurgical procedure that has been available for several years, but has been too time-consuming and costly for many patients, until now.

By using the machine to do the FUE instead of manually, the doctor saves time and often better results are obtained.

Biofibre is an artificial fibre which is used to replace hair in an individual who is bald and has poor donor area. It is usually used only in limited cases where there is no donor hair, and is an alternative to hair transplant in these cases.

Because artificial fibre is used, there is always the chance of infection, rejection and other problems, and it needs care for the rest of your life.

This method of hair implant gives you instant results in one sitting; no waiting period of hair growth is required. This technique is suitable for any age, and even for completely bald persons.

The colour and length are chosen according to remaining hair texture and preference of the patient. First, around 100 biofibres are implanted in the area of baldness to test for any reaction. After three weeks, if there is no reaction, then, remaining fibres are planted in a single session under local anaesthesia.

There is no downtime and you can resume your normal work just after the procedure.

Fret not when you start losing your crowning glory. A visit to the doctor may be what you need.

Dr Chen Tai Ho is an experienced aesthetic doctor who chills by the pool sipping espresso latte when he’s not attending to his beloved patients. For further information, e-mail The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Opinion , Lifestyle , column , hair loss


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