Hair issues are a common complaint at our plastic surgery practice here in Toronto. Hair loss treatments and laser hair removal are popular choices for both men and women. Many patients struggle with thinning hair on the scalp, eyelashes, and brows and want to reverse these problems. Others want to remove thick, dark body hair that makes them feel self-conscious.
If you’re trying to treat your own hair issues, you’re definitely not alone. In this post we’ll answer some commonly asked hair questions and give a guide to solving your symptoms.
Why am I losing hair?
There are different reasons for loss of scalp hair. If you are noticing a change in the volume or amount of hair, it’s worth taking this up with your GP. Loss of hair, called alopecia, is divided by skin specialists into scarring and non-scarring types.
- Scarring alopecia is rare and somewhat difficult to treat, as the hair follicles themselves are damaged in this condition. This can happen for a variety of reasons and can be associated with systemic illnesses, so this kind of alopecia usually requires a medical work up which may include blood tests and a biopsy of your scalp.
- Non-scarring alopecia is the most common hair loss condition and is associated with hormonal changes of aging, referred to as androgenetic.
There are other causes of non-scarring hair loss, so an examination is important. An initial assessment should involve a doctor looking at your scalp to determine which kind you have.
What is the most common pattern of hair loss?
Men typically have a pattern of thinning and loss on the sides, top and front, with a fringe preserved in the back and over the ears. Women have more diffuse thinning at the top with relative preservation at the front.
Are there other medical reasons for hair loss? Should I have any tests done?
Common things which can mimic this typical form of hair loss include thyroid dysfunction, anemia, and poor nutrition. Sometimes blood tests for what looks like routine hair loss are still appropriate.
How can the most common form of hair loss be treated?
The treatment for significant age-related hair loss may include a topical prescription medication called Minoxidil. When this fails, men can also consider oral prescription with Propecia.
Side effects of these drugs need to be discussed with your doctor. While evidence for other treatments is less robust, many skin specialists also recommend the use of oral supplements, like Anacaps or Viviscal, especially when thinning is just starting.
Are thinning eyelashes and brows treatments the same as general hair loss treatments?
With age it’s common to notice thinner shorter and fewer eyelashes. The look of lashes can be improved with temporary false lashes, but these can also be irritating, lead to infection, or cause further thinning and loss of your natural lashes.
Latisse, also called Bimatoprost, is an option for our Toronto patients. It is a topical medication applied daily to the lid at the base of the lashes. It has been shown in studies to grow longer, darker, thicker lashes. Latisse may also be helpful for thinning brows, though this is not an officially approved use of the drug. Side effects of Latisse can include occasional irritation, pigment changes, or dry eyes.
I have too much hair — what should I do?
Excessive dark, coarse hair on the face or body is a very common cosmetic issue. Temporary fixes include hair bleaching, chemical removal, tweezing, or waxing. More long-lasting treatments include electrolysis and laser hair removal.
What is electrolysis hair removal treatment?
Electrolysis hair removal treatment is performed by inserting a small needle into a hair follicle and passing an electric current through it, damaging the follicle in the process.
What is laser hair removal?
In this form of hair removal, laser energy is passed over an area of skin. It is absorbed by the pigment, called melanin, in multiple hair follicles to permanently disrupt them.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of electrolysis?
Electrolysis can treat all skin and hair types, even grey hair. If done repeatedly and in the hands of an experienced practitioner, it can remove hair permanently. However, it requires lengthy sessions as one follicle is treated at a time. It is often not recommended for large areas like the chest, back, or legs.
Electrolysis can require many sessions (sometimes as many as 30 for a given area) and can thus often work out to be much more expensive in the long term than laser hair removal. It involves a needle, so it is an invasive procedure, and it is often carried out by non-medical practitioner. Possible side effects can include infection and scarring.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of laser hair removal?
Laser hair removal treats many hair follicles over large areas at once. These fast sessions often take no more than 30 minutes. Laser hair removal permanently reduces hair growth in a treatment area in 3 to 8 sessions. It treats dark coarse hair on light skin best, with subsequent regrowth typically being much lighter in color and thinner/wispier in texture.
The best laser hair machines can now also successfully remove hair in virtually all skin types, and over a range of hair color. Laser hair removal is also often offered by non-medical practitioners, and in these cases, there can also be risk of injuries, including burns. At MCSC laser hair treatments are only administered in patients after assessment by our physician, Dr. Weinberg, and carried out by our medical aesthetician or trained nurse under his direction, thus side effects are few.
Disadvantages are that in some patients, while hair growth is permanently reduced it is not completely eliminated, and maintenance treatments are needed one or twice a year. Laser hair removal cannot succeed in removing grey hair, thus it’s best to take advantage of laser hair before your hair color is lost. Laser hair removal is very cost effective.
As no two patients are exactly the same, our hair treatment suggestions are always customized to your needs. Contact our Toronto practice online or call (905) 273-3045 to book your consultation today!