Exploring Hair Replacement Options

July 03, 2019

"What happens if you feel you’re doing the right things to keep your hair healthy and strong, but you still find it’s thinning or falling out?"

Today is part 3, the final part in our series with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, about maintaining our best hair as we age. 

She will be discussing hair replacement options and reviewing the benefits and dangers of each, as well as offering a few more natural tips to improve the health of your hair.

Video Highlights

  • 00:55: Introduction
  • 02:57: When hair replacement may be an option
  • 05:51: Types of Hair Loss
  • 12:25: Protein deficiency
  • 14:05: What can be done about hair loss
  • 14:14: Wigs or toupees
  • 16:59: Hair transplant
  • 20:16: Scalp micropigmentation
  • 23:26: Hair growth products
  • 25:14: Natural, DIY hair growth solution
  • 27:01: Wrap-Up

Introduction

In part 1 and part 2 of her hair care series, Dr. Nancy talked about the most common reasons for thinning hair, and covered general hair care tips — like how often you should shampoo and the best shampoo and conditioner ingredients to keep your hair hydrated, shiny, and free of breakage. 

So what happens if you feel you’re doing the right things to keep your hair healthy and strong, but you still find it’s thinning or falling out? That’s what we’ll be talking about in this post. 

When hair replacement may be an option

If you know:

  • You’re not suffering from a hormonal imbalance
  • You’re eating anti-inflammatory foods
  • You’re taking omega-3 and probiotic supplements 
  • You exercise regularly
  • You’re managing your stress levels
  • You know any medications you’re taking don’t cause hair loss 

If you’re doing all these things, which are ideal ways to help keep your hair in tip-top shape, and you’re still losing your hair, then it might be time to explore some hair replacement options.

So let’s talk about what those hair replacement options are and discuss the benefits and dangers of each. We’ll also give you some natural tips to improve the health of your hair that will improve your overall health as well.

Normal and abnormal hair loss rates

It is perfectly normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair every day. What’s potentially abnormal is if you do a pull test, and you discover that ten or more strands come out in your hand. All you do is run your fingers through your hair, and give a little tug once you reach the end. Count the number of strands that come out in your hand. If you have more than 10 strands in your hand, you may be suffering from hair loss. 

And if so, know that you’re not alone. 

Types of Hair Loss

Hereditary hair loss is the most common form of hair loss, and approximately 80 million men and women in the U.S. suffer from it. Hereditary hair loss occurs due to a combination of factors – hormone levels, genetics, and as a natural byproduct of aging. It begins with thinning hair and progresses to total hair loss along parts of the scalp. Both men and women can be affected, however, they tend to lose hair in different patterns. Men see hair loss in an M-shape until there is only hair along the sides and back of the head. Women lose hair in what is called a Christmas tree pattern, where hair loss begins at the crown and progresses and widens down the middle of the head. 

Alopecia is another common form of hair loss. Alopecia occurs when the immune system targets the hair follicles and causes hair to fall out in round patches. It is reported that nearly 7 million Americans suffer from alopecia and it does not discriminate. Men or women, of any race, and at any age can suffer from this type of hair loss. 

In one study conducted on men between the ages of 18 and 49, almost half of the men in that age bracket suffered from extensive hair loss. Of those men, if they started losing their hair when they were 18, they saw a steady increase in hair loss as they aged. 

Women, unfortunately, can sometimes have an even harder time than men when it comes to hair loss. The male testosterone-like hormone DHT is oftentimes considered the enemy when it comes to hair loss. DHT targets the hair follicles and essentially kills them. This is true for men and for women, but the amount of estrogen a woman has can also impact whether or not she experiences hair loss. 

When estrogen levels drop, as they do during menopause, for instance, DHT swoops in and starts to spike. This can cause the hair to thin or fall out in patches. This can also happen during pregnancy or right after having a baby. This type of hair loss can also occur during times of extreme stress, or can happen any time there’s a hormone imbalance. In fact, 95% of women suffer hair loss as a result of a hormonal change, whether that be from menopause, pregnancy, or something else going on like a thyroid issue.

In fact, genetics and hormone imbalances are the #1 causes of hair loss in both men and women with stress, inflammation, and nutritional deficiencies rounding out the Top 5. 

Protein Deficiency

One such nutritional deficiency is not getting enough protein. Did you know that your hair is made up primarily of protein? If that is the case, then adding about 4-6 ounces of lean proteins, or 30 grams, to every meal could help solve your hair loss issues. Lean proteins include fish, chicken, eggs, turkey, and beans. Eating these types of foods, in addition to a rainbow diet of colorful fruits and veggies, can also help cut down on inflammation, which could be another contributor to hair loss.  

What can be done about hair loss

Wig or Toupee

If your hair loss is pretty extreme, then obviously one of the easiest, most non-invasive options is to invest in a wig or a toupee. You can purchase a wig made from hair that looks so natural it will be difficult for anyone to be able to tell the hair on your head is not your own. One benefit to this is that there’s little styling involved. You just put on your wig and go. Some of the concerns with wigs is they could fall off or go askew, they sometimes look unnatural, and they can develop an odor from a buildup of body oils on the skin beneath the wig. Wigs can be a pricey option, too. A really good wig made from human hair could cost over $2,000. 

Now toupees unfairly tend to get a bad rap. Like wigs, they’ve come a long way. Many companies will work with you to tailor your toupee to fit perfectly to your head and in the style that you want. Like wigs, toupees have seen such advancements that they’re hard to detect and come in a wide variety of modern styles. The benefits and the downsides are the same as with wearing a wig, and the average cost hovers around the $200 range. Like wigs, they can cost upwards of $2,000. 

Hair Transplant

This is a more invasive option, but it can be an effective one. Like the other options, hair transplants have evolved quite a bit over the years. A hair transplant is just what it sounds like — hair is taken from one part of your scalp and grafted, or implanted, into another part of your scalp. Hair transplant surgery takes about 4 - 8 hours to complete. Recovery time isn’t very long — about a week — and new hair should start growing within 3 to 9 months of having transplant surgery. Side effects include inflammation, bleeding, and sometimes the new hair can grow in odd looking patterns. Some people report that the procedure is also extremely painful.  Initially, the transplanted hair can fall out, but this is a perfectly normal side effect called shock loss. Only the hair itself is falling out, not the follicle, and new hair should start to grow in its place. 

The cost hair transplant surgery is pretty steep — between $4,000 and $15,000, and health insurance likely won’t cover it. There are different procedures touted by hair replacement surgeons, so if you do choose this route, then do your homework. Be absolutely sure the surgeon and procedure used has a long and successful track record. Many top Hollywood celebrities have gone through this procedure and when it’s done right it can look great. But there are an equal number of horror stories out there, so be careful.

Hair Tattooing

Most of you might be familiar with eyebrow tattooing or microblading, where the eyebrows are tattooed on to give the appearance of permanently perfect brows. Hair tattooing is a little different. Hair tattooing is also called scalp micropigmentation

Essentially, with it you’re getting a tattoo of a buzz cut. This is a great option for men, especially those who have lost too much hair to be able to undergo a hair transplant. Scalp micropigmentation employs the use of micro-needles to deposit thousands of tiny dots of pigmentation into the scalp that give the appearance of very short hair. It can also help give the appearance of thicker hair where hair is thinning, and it is sometimes used to cover scars present on the scalp from either hair transplant surgery or from other surgeries or trauma. 

Scalp pigmentation is an option for both men and women and is performed over multiple sessions. The cost ranges anywhere from $500 to $5,000, depending on the size of the area being treated. 

There are a few downsides to scalp pigmentation, but with some foresight, these can potentially be prevented. The pigment used can either be temporary or permanent. Going with the temporary ink option can allow you to change the color or the look of your hairline every few years. If you get the permanent pigment option and you don’t like the placement of your hairline — maybe it’s too low or too far back — you’re kind of stuck. Again, it’s also important to go to someone who is highly skilled in the art of scalp pigmentation. Do your research! 

Hair Growth Products

In the hair loss episode, we talked a little bit about using products like Rogaine or minoxidil. While these products have been proven effective in hair regrowth, they do come with a ton of nasty and scary side effects, like:

  • Chest pain
  • Unwanted facial hair
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid weight gain

All of these side effects are listed right there on the box. We’re about feeding and nurturing our bodies with the healthiest, most non-toxic, natural, and organic products possible, right? So, this doesn’t fit with that protocol.

Natural DIY Hair Growth Solution

One naturopath version of Rogaine uses a mixture of coconut oil and rosemary essential oil right on your scalp. To make this, you simply take a cap full of coconut oil, add a few drops of essential oil and then either use a dropper or pour it directly onto your scalp. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then wash it out. Many using this regimen have reported they achieved the same effects as Rogaine and minoxidil or better, without any of those nasty side effects.  

Hair Growth Shampoos

As for the hair growth shampoos that were so popular online for a while, with ads that showed balding heads transforming to full heads of thick hair in weeks… sorry, but most of these are just shampoos that leave your existing hair “looking” fuller and thicker after the wash, but nothing changed. We recommend you save your money and try the all natural tips in video 1 of this series. 

Wrap Up 

Today we discussed a few of the better known hair replacement options out there with a little history behind each for you to consider if you find you’re suffering from hair loss. These included:

  • Wigs and toupees
  • Hair transplant surgery
  • Scalp micropigmentation
  • Medications like Rogaine and Special Shampoos

We also talked about some natural things you can do at home to prevent hair loss or to improve hair growth, including eating more protein — because, remember, hair is made up mostly of protein, and if you’re protein deficient, then that will absolutely have an affect on your hair. 

You can also use essential oils like rosemary, peppermint, or lavender, as these all stimulate hair growth to some degree, as does coconut oil, which you can use as a carrier oil for your essential oils. 

Another natural, healthy option is to integrate more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. Cutting down on inflammation in the body can help to regulate hormone levels and keep the body in balance. And remember to take your curcurmin to help keep your inflammation levels in check! Less Inflammation in + More Inflammation out = A Healthier You.  

And remember, hormone levels that are out of whack is another leading causes of hair loss, as is stress. Stress less, and your hair — and your health — will thank you! Find ways to eliminate unnecessary stressors from your life. Try exercise, go outside and get some vitamin D, take yoga or tai chi, and get a good night’s rest! These things are so important to your overall well-being, but they can also help keep your hair looking healthy and prevent any unwanted hair loss.

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