The Joy of the Baldness Gene
Hair loss is a problem that millions of people face every day. It is a common sight to run into people who are fully bald and have been for years. From celebrities to friends and family, receding hairlines, bald spots, and thinning hair is something we have become used to seeing. Some people can make it work for them and don’t worry about hair restoration. Like Dwayne Johnson for instance. It’s unlikely The Rock has looked up hair transplant surgery lately. In fact, his bald dome has become a part of this whole persona. However, that’s not the case for the vast majority of hair loss patients. Many people affected by the baldness gene don’t quite have the confidence of The Rock. We need to actively seek out hair restoration solutions.
Is the Baldness Gene Always to Blame?
There are many different causes of hair loss. Stress. Hormonal imbalances. Childbirth. Alopecia. Infections. Numerous internal and external factors cause hair to fall out and affect the normal growth cycle of your hair follicles. Many myths about hair loss stick around to this day. They influence the culture. Cause confusion. Convince people to try outlandish things. One of the most commonly held myths about hair loss is that you inherited the baldness gene from your mother. This is false and not how genetics even work.
If you’re looking for treatment, then it’s important to understand why you are experiencing hair loss in the first place. Just because hair loss runs in your family, that doesn’t mean that you are experiencing hair loss because of genetics. Being able to identify what is causing the baldness could be invaluable in stopping it from continuing. If you can identify the reasons your hair is falling out and address that issue directly then you could stop the hair loss completely.
Here at Best Hair Transplant Los Angeles, we are an FUE clinic and are experts on all the genetic and non-genetic forms of hair loss and baldness. Part of our mission here is to not only provide the best hair transplant surgeries on the market but also to provide the information you need to make the best hair restoration choices possible.
What is the Baldness Gene?
The most common form of hair loss that is genetic is called androgenic alopecia. Alopecia is the most common medical term for “hair loss” and androgenic alopecia affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States alone. Androgenic alopecia is caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors, but researchers have discovered that one of the main causes is due to a hormone called androgens, particularly an androgen called dihydrotestosterone.
Dihydrotestosterone is a hormone common in both men and women. It’s made through the conversion of a more commonly known androgen called testosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is responsible for the development of male characteristics during and after puberty. Nearly 10% of testosterone produced by the human body converts into dihydrotestosterone. This figure is much lower prior to puberty. The increase in dihydrotestosterone production may be responsible for the start of puberty in boys. On the other hand, we know less about how DHT affects women. However, it may cause the growth of body and pubic hair after girls begin puberty.
The Baldness Gene and DHT
If your body starts to produce too much dihydrotestosterone, it will affect the natural growth cycle of your hair follicles and will slow down the process in which the hair regrows after it has fallen out, causing hair loss. Given this, you have to wonder what exactly causes these spikes in dihydrotestosterone in the body and is it possible to regulate the dihydrotestosterone levels in some way.
Researchers have suspected that a number of different genes play a role in androgenic alopecia but have only nailed down one gene that is for sure a culprit, called the AR gene. The AR gene provides instructions for making a protein called an androgen receptor. Androgen receptors allow the body to respond appropriately to dihydrotestosterone and other androgens. Researchers have discovered that variations in the AR gene cause increased activity in the androgen receptors in hair follicles which may be the cause of androgenic alopecia. (Axel M. Hillmer, 2005).
For men, conditions like coronary heart disease & prostate cancer sync with androgenic alopecia. For women, the common culprit tends to be polycystic ovary syndrome. These disorders have been associated with elevated androgen levels and also occur alongside androgen-related hair loss.
So, is the AR gene the baldness gene? That answer is far from simple. The AR gene is mostly responsible for androgenic alopecia as research shows heavy association with male pattern baldness. However, the association between androgens and female pattern baldness is a bit more complex, but more on that later. (A. Ellis, 2001)
Is Your Hairloss Genetic Hair Loss?
It’s easy to think that all hair loss is genetic, and you just got dealt a bad hand right at the get-go when it comes to your hair loss. In most cases male and female pattern baldness is genetic but there are also a lot of other environmental factors that contribute to it. Even if you have the baldness gene, you may not even suffer from hair loss at all just due to your environment and lifestyle. Or, you may have the AR gene and suffer from a form of hair loss that has nothing to do with genetics at all.
Some people will claim up and down that it’s just an old wife’s tale that stress can cause hair loss, while others will claim that stress is the number one cause of baldness. In fact, there are actually three kinds of hair loss that are stress-related.
The normal growth cycle for hair is to grow for a few years, rest for a few months then shed and start to regrow. Telogen is the name for the resting phase of this regrowth cycle. When someone experiences an extraordinary amount of stress, it is possible for them to experience what is known as telogen effluvium hair loss. Telogen effluvium is when stress causes the roots of the hair to be pushed prematurely into the resting phase of the regrowth cycle for either a short amount of time or permanently. This will stop those hair follicles from entering the growth phase of the cycle, so when they shed, hair loss occurs.
In rare occurrences, someone can even experience what is called acute telogen effluvium and can lose up to 70% of the hair on their head in a short amount of time. This happens when there is a sudden shock to the system that causes a severe case of telogen effluvium, and after about two months, the hair will start coming out in handfuls.
Stress & Hair Loss
There are many different kinds of “stress” that can be placed on the body. Psychological stress is just one form that can cause telogen effluvium. Childbirth, high fevers, major surgery or illnesses, crash diets, over or underactive thyroid glands, or malnutrition can put enough stress on the body to cause telogen effluvium which will result in hair loss. Even taking medications like retinoids, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and even ibuprofen, in excess, can put enough stress on the body to cause hair loss.
If your hair loss is drug-related, then the drugs you are taking can also cause a form of hair loss called anagen effluvium. The anagen phase of the regrowth hair cycle is when the hair is growing normally prior to the shedding phase. Anagen effluvium normally happens due to an injury to the hair follicles which will cause the damaged follicles to shed during their growing process. This prevents the matrix of cells, which is a process that produces new hairs, resulting in hair loss.
This type of hair loss is the most common when someone is undergoing chemotherapy. However, many things can poison the human body. Gold, colchicine, arsenic, bismuth, thallium, or boric acid may cause it as well.
Autoimmune Diseases & Hair Loss
Autoimmune diseases are also a known hair loss culprit that does not have to do with the baldness gene. An autoimmune disease is when, for reasons still entirely unknown to researchers, the white blood cells in the body mistake other normal and natural cells in the body for foreign invaders and attack those cells as though they were a virus or bacteria.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease when white blood cells attack the cells of the hair follicles. Generally, alopecia areata happens in people who are otherwise healthy, although if someone is already suffering from another autoimmune disease, then the risk of alopecia areata is greater. Sometimes this form of alopecia will manifest as clumps of hair falling out in round patches in men, and as a general thinning of the hair in women. In rare cases, all the hair over the entire body will fall out, including eyebrows, eyelashes, and body hair.
Eating Disorders & Hairloss
Another cause of hair loss that has nothing to do with the baldness gene, is hair loss due to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Eating disorders can affect anybody and are a serious problem in the United States. It’s a common misconception that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice. However, that’s far from true. In reality, they’re lifelong, often-fatal illnesses associated with psychological disturbances in someone’s eating behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. (Eating Disorders, n.d.).
I myself dealt with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) since I was 6 years old. Finally, at the age of 34, I actually had gastric sleeve surgery to deal with it. And interestingly enough, that surgery is well-known to cause temporary hair loss. Luckily for me, my hair was not affected at all.
When the body becomes malnourished while suffering from an eating disorder, the stores of protein in the body deplete. Consequently, the body forcibly directs the remaining proteins to ensure the function of essential organs that keep us alive.
Our hair is composed of a protein called keratin which is not essential to the body’s functioning. So, when malnourished the body stops keratin production and focuses on vital organs and hair growth stops. However, the hair shedding continues, which causes hair loss. Depending on a person’s age and other developmental factors, hair growth can resume normally if, and when, a person maintains normal nutritional stabilization for over six months. (Jordan Murray, 2016).
Thyroid Disease & Hormone Imbalances
There are many other causes of hair loss that are not related to the AR gene, like thyroid disease, which is a hormonal imbalance in your thyroid gland which can lead to hair loss similar to alopecia areata. Even an iron deficiency (anemia) in the body can cause hair loss. This is alongside childbirth and even unhealthy hair appliances can cause you to lose your hair.
If you have ruled out a non-genetic factor that is the reason for your hair loss and are sure you are a victim of that nasty AR gene. Then you have to wonder just why you are lucky enough to have got it when your brother Jim has more hair than Fabio?
How Genetics Are Passed Down From Generation to Generation
Your genes are a blueprint of the makeup of your body, which is composed of chromosomes. Nearly every cell in your body has a copy of this blueprint, mostly stored in the nucleus. Chromosomes are long strands of a chemical substance called deoxyribonucleic acid, or more commonly, DNA.
A DNA strand looks like a ladder twisted around itself, and the genes, a series of letters strung along each edge. These letters along the DNA strands act like an instruction book containing information on building the specific molecules that are necessary for the growth, development, and maintenance of our bodies. Humans have 46 chromosomes that contain between 20,000 and 25,000 genes. Normally. People have two copies of each chromosome with one copy inherited from their mother and the other inherited from their father.
Passing on Your Genes
All human characteristics pass from their parents’ genes. However, sometimes these characteristics can have many different forms, meaning genes can interact with each other, creating variations of characteristics called an allele (pronounced ‘AL-eel’). When these interactions between genes that are inherited from parents, create alleles, they can create a number of different “inheritance patterns.” These inheritance patterns are then controlled by a dominant and recessive relationship, where one allele of genes is said to be dominant when it overrules the other (recessive) allele.
This means if the AR gene (baldness gene) runs in your family and gets passed down to you, it could be contained in a recessive allele that has been dominated by another allele. In other words, it would never affect you. Or if the AR gene is part of a dominant allele, then congratulations, you are losing your hair at some point in your life, and this is most likely the reason you are reading this article.
Can You Predict Who Will Get the Baldness Gene?
As we have discovered, people with male and female pattern baldness have some family members who have the same type of hair loss. Even if only your uncle is bald and the rest of your family are not, that one uncle may be dooming you to suffer from hair loss at some point in your life.
In a 2017 study by PLOS Genetics, researchers identified 287 genetic variations associated with male pattern baldness. These are variations of genes that stem from genetic markers that you get from both your mother and father. Researchers then created a comprehensive genetic analysis that can estimate the risk of developing male pattern baldness, but it’s not completely precise. Out of all of the 52,000 male participants that they collected data from, and who scored within the top 10% based on their analysis, only 58% of them reported moderate to severe hair loss. (Hagenaars, 2017).
This study is by far the most comprehensive research on the ability to predict who will suffer from hair loss and who won’t. As we can see it was barely 58% accurate. So, it appears that being able to predict in any sort of reliable way whether you will get the baldness gene if it runs in your family, is not going to happen in any kind of effective manner.
Genetic Hair Loss in Women
Androgenetic alopecia affects around 40% of women by the age of 50, and less than 45% of women will reach the age of 80 years old with a full head of hair. Female pattern hair loss manifests differently in women than it does in men. While the most common sign of male pattern baldness is a receding hairline, in women the common manifestation is a general thinning of all the hair on the scalp, which becomes most noticeable at the part of the hair.
Another difference between male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness is the role that androgens play. Researchers strongly believe that androgens have a clear role in male pattern baldness; however, the majority of females suffering from pattern baldness have normal androgen levels in their bloodstreams. Due to this uncertain relationship, most doctors will prefer the term “female pattern hair loss” over the term “female androgenetic alopecia.”
Unfortunately, the amount of research into the causes of male pattern baldness far overshadows the studies done for women’s hair loss. Female pattern baldness is known to be genetic in nature and influenced by age and the general health of the women. It has been shown that hair loss in women is also known to be more frequent after menopause, which points to estrogen being a factor in stimulating hair growth.
Treatments for Genetic Baldness
If you ruled out most non-genetic causes for your hair loss such as autoimmune disorders and reactions to medications, and have androgenetic alopecia in your family, chances are you have the baldness gene. Luckily there are many different treatment options available to you. An LA hair transplant clinic in Redondo Beach is a sure-fire way to get your head of full, healthy hair back if surgery is something you are comfortable with.
Not ready to lie down on the table of an FUE clinic? There are other less invasive hair restoration treatments available. Here we take a look at what treatments are best for the baldness gene. Additionally, we determine how effective they will be based on the progression of your hair loss.
FUT & FUE Hair Transplant Surgery
The two most popular types of hair transplant surgery are the Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) procedure and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) procedure. In the older FUT method, the surgeon extracts whole “strips” of hair-bearing tissue from the donor area of the scalp. Then, your surgeon dissects this strip of tissue into individual hair follicle bunches. Finally, your doctor transplants these hairs into areas where the baldness gene has taken its toll. At and FUE clinic, the individual hair follicles are extracted from the donor area, one by one. Then the hair follicles are implanted into the balding area in a similar manner as the FUT technique.
The Difference Between FUT & FUE Hair Transplant Procedures
The differences between FUT & FUE methods have everything to do with how the surgeon harvests hair follicles from your scalp. The processing and implantation of the follicles are similar in both techniques. The FUT process is much quicker than with FUE, due to the faster harvesting of the hair follicles for implantation. However, the FUT method produces much more post-procedure pain and discomfort than FUE. Scarring is also an issue as with FUT procedures. Patients are left with a single linear scar along the donor area. On the other hand, FUE patients generally have multiple “dot” like scars scattered around the donor area.
The FUE method has become the most popular hair transplant surgery over the last few years. Some doctors swear that FUE hair transplant surgery is a much more precise procedure. As a result, surgery produces much more natural-looking results. Also, the FUE technique requires much more skill and experience than the FUT method. That’s due to the delicate manner in which the hair follicles are extracted.
How Do You Know Which Transplant Method is Best For You?
Which method of hair transplant surgery you choose is ultimately up to you. Among the hair restoration industry, there is still a great amount of controversy over which method is ultimately “better.” If you are experiencing advanced stages of hair loss, with little healthy donor hair left, then perhaps the FUT technique would better suit your needs as the FUE method would take much longer to perform. Or, if you are a female who is suffering from pattern baldness, then visiting an FUE clinic might better suit your needs due to experiencing overall thinness you’re your hair instead of balding in specific areas.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy is a hair restoration process that involves doctors drawing blood from the patient and then putting it into a machine called a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins at a rapid rate that separates the components of the blood sample. This allows the doctor to then extract the platelet-rich plasma from the sample. Then the platelet-rich plasma is injected back into the scalp where the baldness has occurred.
Platelets are the body’s “first responders,” meaning when someone suffers an injury like a cut or a wound, the platelets will arrive on the scene and stop the bleeding and promote the body’s ability to heal itself. Based on this, researchers theorized that if they could extract platelets and inject them into damaged areas of the body, then perhaps they could promote healing. (Pietro Gentile, 2015).
Research has shown that PRP therapy, when used as a hair loss solution has the ability to rejuvenate dying hair follicles, which will over time, cause those follicles to begin the regrowth process. PRP therapy and stem cells may work in tandem with one another. However, that’s a call best left to your hair restoration surgeon.
Low-Level Laser Therapy & Capillus RX 312
Low-Level Laser Therapy(LLLT) is an innovative new process that uses low level (cold lasers), set to a specific calibration as a treatment for a variety of different ailments. While this sounds like science fiction, there is actual research into LLLT that has proven its effectiveness for hair loss.
When set to a specific calibration and frequency, the lasers in LLLT interact with the cells of the hair follicle and stimulates it to begin its growth (anagen) phase of the growth cycle. The LLLT also increases blood circulation to the scalp, with creates an even more beneficial environment for under-performing hair follicles. Studies show that LLLT is both safe and effective for hair growth in both men and women. In fact, out of 41 males studied, LLLT provided a 39% increase in hair growth over the course of 16 weeks. (Avci, 2013) (Raymond J Lanzafame, 2013).
Hair Loss & Hair Restoration Drugs
The two most popular drugs for baldness gene hair loss are Minoxidil (Rogaine) and Finasteride (Propecia). Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication that comes in a liquid, foam, or shampoo form. Normally, in order to see any kind of result from Minoxidil, you have to continuously use the medication for six months or longer. Should you stop you will not see any additional benefits. Most often, users of Minoxidil notice their hair loss rate decreased. For some, it may even begin to regrow lost hair. Side effects from Minoxidil include scalp irritation and unwanted hair growth on the hands and face.
Finasteride is a prescription drug for men, although research has shown that the drug is relatively safe for women. However, it may increase the possible side effects. Taken as a pill form, Finasteride slows the loss of hair, but you must take it over the course of three to four months. These hair loss drugs prove most effective in combination with other hair restoration solutions. Taking one of these hair loss drugs directly after a hair transplant surgery could increase the time it takes for the implanted hair follicles to begin their growth cycle, as well as increase the effectiveness of Low-Level Laser Therapy.
Fighting the Baldness Gene at Best Hair Transplant Los Angeles
Androgenetic alopecia as well as female pattern hair loss is something that many Americans must deal with. Here at Best Hair Transplant Los Angeles, our FUE clinic provides the best hair restoration services available for the lowest price. Whether your hair loss is due to the baldness gene or some other reason, our hair loss experts are here to help.
We offer both FUE as well as FUT hair transplant surgeries as well as LLLT for hair loss. All of our doctors are hair transplant specialists and make hair transplants surgeries their business. We offer completely free consultations. Our experts sit down with you and discuss your hair restoration needs. Finally, we come up with a plan to get you the full head of hair you deserve.
Affordable Los Angeles Hair Transplants
Best Hair Transplant is the best place to schedule your hair transplant in Los Angeles. We’ve helped thousands of men and women regrow their lost hair. Your genetics don’t have to define you. You can shape your own future and your own look. At our Redondo Beach hair transplant clinic, we’ll help people just like you fight their baldness genes.
At Best Hair Transplant, we’re proud of our results and happy to provide hair restoration services. Additionally, we’re proud to make hair transplants affordable and help you save money on a variety of hair transplants. Contact us today and we’ll show you how you can stop the baldness gene in its tracks.
- A.Ellis, J. (2001). Polymorphism of the Androgen Receptor Gene Associated with Male Pattern Baldness. Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
- Avci, P. (2013). Low-Level Laser (Light) Therapy (LLLT) for Treatment of Hair Loss. HHS Public Access.
- Axel M. Hillmer. (2005). Genetic Variation in the Human Androgen Receptor Gene Is the Major Determinant of Common Early-Onset Androgenetic Alopecia. Elsevier.
- Eating Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Institute of Mental Health.
- Hagenaars, S. P. (2017). Genetic prediction of male pattern baldness. PLOS Genetics.
- Jordan Murray, R. C. (2016). Hair Loss and Anorexia: A Sign of Greater Danger. Eating Disorders Resource Catalog.
- Pietro Gentile, S. G. (2015). The Effect of Platelet-Rich Plasma in Hair Regrowth: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Stem Cells Translational Medicine.
- Raymond J Lanzafame, R. R. (2013). The growth of human scalp hair mediated by visible red light laser and LED sources in males. Pub Med.