Treatments and remedies for his hair loss.

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Premature or not, when a man’s hairline begins showing the effects of hair loss, his confidence inevitably takes a hit. “I’ve been doing hair transplant surgeries for over 20 years, and the most common element I find associated with hair loss in patients is low self-esteem, which can impact work and social life, as well as family relationships,” says Dr. Christopher Cole, MD, MPH, medical director of The Cole Clinic in London and Windsor, Ont.

Thankfully, the follicle challenged aren’t without help. From the latest in growth technology to supplements to camouflaging products, here’s how to handle all manner of hair scarcity.

Hair Restoration: How it started

Once upon a time, the only way to deal with hair loss was with wigs and hairpieces. Fast-forward to the 1960s, when the first hair transplantations began, and large pluggy-looking punch grafts and scalp reductions—where large areas of bald scalp skin were removed and the hair-bearing scalp was advanced to cover it—came into play, says Dr. Cole.

It was in the 1990s that “natural-looking” hair, hairlines and overall fullness were achieved with smaller mini and micrografts, in which surgeons would use a patient’s own permanent growing hair, often from the back of his head. Containing one to six hairs via strip transplants, doctors would cut a large band of tissue from one side of the back of the head to the other and place the follicles within areas in need of coverage.

In the early 2000s, grafts became even smaller and were dubbed “follicular units” that could be more densely packed into balding areas. According to Dr. Cole, “This resulted in an even more natural-appearing hair restoration procedure and lead to today’s hair transplant procedures, in which grafts range from 1,500 to 7,000 hairs.” Hair restoration procedures in the past were painful, and cutting the strip of tissue from the back of the head meant a lengthy recovery time and a sizable scar.

Robotic Hair Restoration: ARTAS, The most innovative option

Recent years have brought about the introduction of ARTAS, a breakthrough, minimally invasive method that uses digital imaging and precision robotics to take permanent growing hairs from the back of a patient’s head, which don’t have the genetic instruction to fall out with age, and implant them in thinning areas. At a rate of 900 to 1,000 hair grafts per hour, the ARTAS robot is often a better restoration option for most patients and produces easily hidden scars in comparison to one lengthy strip. “The fact that this technology eliminates the need for a band of tissue to be removed from the back and sides of a patient’s head is of particular importance to men wanting to wear their hair very short,” says Dr. Cole.

What’s more, with the technological advances of ARTAS, not only is the strain on a doctor’s hands, arms, shoulders and neck minimized but the procedure also allows for more grafts in a session than ever before. “Large sessions of grafts can be done in one eight to 10 hour session, where previously they would have taken two or three sessions over a two- or three-day period,” he adds.

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Cost: $5,000 to $18,000 for hair restoration surgery, depending on the patient.

Side effects and downtime: Based on how extensive a patient’s hair loss is, Dr. Cole says two to three sessions may be necessary to achieve desired fullness. Patients may be asked to shave their heads to improve growth following this procedure, and many can expect up to one week of healing time following the procedure.

Results: Patients will see new hairs growing within approximately three months, and growth will continue over the duration of a year.

Ideal candidates: The majority of men experiencing male pattern baldness can benefit from this procedure, though patients need to have a sufficient amount of “staying” hair for surgeons to use as contributor grafts in areas requiring coverage. A patient’s age and severity of baldness are also considerations.

Covering up in the meantime

Camouflaging products can help disguise early hair loss.

Hair supplements like New Nordic Hair Volume are a popular pre-emptive strike among men who are starting to experience hair loss yet not ideal candidates for hair transplants according to their doctors. They contain a mix of herbal extracts, vitamins, minerals and procyanidin B2 (extracted from apples), ingredients that nourish the scalp and follicles from the inside. Researchers believe this cocktail helps maintain follicle viability, ensuring the best possible conditions for healthy hair. Another masking option is DermMatch, a tinted, hard-packed, powdered formula that washes out with shampoo and coats strands with thickening agents to create the illusion of fullness. Eclipse Instant Hair Filler is another concealing product that works by filling in thinning hair using microfibre technology to create a bond between existing hair and the fibre until your next shampoo. Revivogen MD uses shampoo, conditioner and a scalp therapy treatment to inhibit a form of testosterone responsible for hair loss while stimulating follicles and activating their growth phase.

Oral Nutrients: New Nordic Hair Volume, $28, available at newnordic.ca, Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart

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Concealing Patchiness: Eclipse Instant Hair Filler, $29.99, available in salons

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Daily Hair Care:  Revivogen MD Bio-Cleansing Shampoo, $27; Revivogen MD Thickening Conditioner, $27; Revivogen MD Scalp Therapy, $112

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