As people age, many begin dreading how their appearance will change. Wrinkles, saggy skin, and hair loss are just some of the more noticeable side effects of aging. But when it comes to hair loss, is there anything, besides surgical hair loss treatments, that can be done to preserve a full head of hair?
To understand why hair loss occurs, and if there is anything that can be done to stop it, it is important to learn how healthy hair growth occurs. At our Chicago, IL clinic, the Chicago Hair Institute, our doctors explain the hair growth cycle to our patients so that they understand how to best address thinning hair.
The Structure of a Hair
Every hair on the human body is comprised of two structures: the hair follicle and the hair shaft. The hair follicle is a tunnel-like structure that lies beneath the skin. It connects to a series of blood vessels that nourish the cells.
By 22 weeks of development, a human fetus already has all the hair follicles that it will have in its lifetime. On average, a human body has five million hair follicles. About 100,000 hair follicles are on the scalp. These hair follicles will make up the head of a hair that a person has for the rest of his or her life.
The portion of hair that protrudes from the body is the hair shaft. A hair shaft on the scalp is made up of three layers: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla.
The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair. It protects the inner layers of hair from damage.
The cortex makes up the majority of the hair structure. The cortex determines the color and texture of the hair.
Finally, at the innermost layer of the hair is the medulla. The medulla is a collection of cells that is only found in thick, coarse hair.
The Cycle of Hair Growth
Each hair follicle goes through three phases of hair growth.
The anagen phase is a period of active hair growth. A hair follicle can be in this stage for an average of three to five years.
Following the anagen phase, a hair follicle enters the catagen phase. The catagen phase is a short transitional phase that only lasts about 10 days.
Finally, the follicle enters the telogen phase. During the telogen phase, the hair follicle rests and hair shafts are released. This phase lasts around three months, and then the entire cycle of growth begins again. Each hair follicle goes through these stages independently, and on their own timeframe, so that a person does not lose all hair at once.
Why Hair Loss Occurs
Hair loss is a natural part of the hair growth cycle. However, at a certain point in life, the hair growth cycle changes. Hair follicles begin spending less time in the anagen, or growth, phase, and more time in the telogen, or rest phase.
While there are some conditions, such as illness or the use of certain medications, that can trigger this condition, most cases of hair loss are classified as male- or female-pattern baldness, which means they are genetic. The hair just naturally begins thinning and falling out once a person reaches a certain age.
Genetic cases of hair loss cannot be prevented. The best way to restore fullness to a hairline that has been compromised by pattern baldness is through surgical hair loss treatments, such as those offered at the Chicago Hair Institute.
If you are experiencing hair loss and would like to learn more about the surgical hair loss treatments offered at Chicago Hair Institute, contact us at your earliest convenience. Call (630) 932-9690 to set up a personal consultation with one of our experienced doctors.