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There are many hair loss conditions affecting men, but the most common is Male Pattern Baldness (MPB). Some other names used for this condition include genetic hair loss and androgenetic alopecia.
What is Male Pattern Baldness
MPB is a genetic condition passed down from either side of a persons family tree. The condition is caused from a by-product of testosterone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT attaches hair follicles causing them to shrink over a period of time causing hair to thin until some men become totally bald in certain areas.
Importantly, MPB only affects the top and front of a person’s scalp because it’s only the follicles in this area that contain receptors sensitive to the DHT which causes hair loss. Therefore, hair is taken from the back or side of the scalp (areas where the hairs are not sensitive to genetic hair loss) and transplanted to the top or front of the head. This transplanted hair almost always continues to grow, produces hair for life and will remain unaffected by MPB in it’s new location.
Who Is at Risk from Male Pattern Baldness?
Male pattern baldness can begin in teenage years but occurs more frequently in adult men. The likelihood of MPB increases with age plus genetics plays a big role – men with close relatives suffering from MPB are at a higher risk. Research shows 50% of men suffer from some form of MPB by the time they reach 50 years old
Am I Losing My Hair?
Typically male pattern baldness begins above the temples and at the vertex (or calvaria), of the scalp. As it progresses, a band of hair at the sides and back of the head ultimately remains – sometimes referred to as a ‘Hippocratic wreath’, and this hair rarely progresses to complete baldness.
If your hair loss is visible at the temples or the crown of the head, you may well have male pattern baldness. Some men will get a single bald spot whilst others often experience their hairlines receding to form an “M” shape. In some case, the entire hairline will continue to recede in a uniform manner.
One of the most common patterns of MPB is a receding hairline where the hair is lost at either side of the forehead, usually leaving a triangular peak at the front. In some men this can be the only area of hair loss, but others may also experience thinning at the crown. For those with more aggressive forms of MPB the hairline will recede further until it meets the crown resulting in a larger bald area.
Thinning Crown or Vertex
Some men experience thinning at the back or top of the head in an area called the ‘crown’ or ‘vertex’. This can often coincide with a receding hairline, but is also common in men on it’s own. Hair loss at the crown will usually commence with thinning until the scalp becomes visible until a defined bald patch may appear. This patch may progress in size until it meets a receding hairline or causes a prominent area of baldness at the top or back of the head. The size and shape is different from person to person, but thinning hair or baldness at the crown is very common.
A less common pattern of hair loss is ‘general thinning’, evenly spread over the top of the head. Men experiencing general thinning will not notice a distinct receding hairline or thinning crown and the onset of hair loss may be less obvious and take longer to notice..
Thankfully hair loss in these areas can be successfully reversed since the back and sides of the head are not affected by male pattern baldness. Indeed, if a client is experiencing hair loss in these areas it will be caused by another condition.
The Norwood Scale
The Hamilton-Norwood scale (shown in the image) has been developed to grade Male Pattern Baldness. MPB can occur in various different ways and over differing time scales.