Will I Shed More During the Fall?

With Labor Day fast approaching, summer is unfortunately coming to an end.  While we do enjoy the crisp mornings and fall foliage, a lot of our patients have been wondering if and how the change in season can affect their hair.

Patients often tell us they notice more shedding during certain times of the year. Because everyone’s hair cycle is different, we can certainly see a correlation of hair growth or shedding with certain seasons for some patients.  During the summer months, the body tends to hold on to hairs to protect the scalp against the harsh midday sun. To compensate, the hair follicles tend to elongate their growth phase in order to provide coverage and shelter for the scalp. As the sun’s threatening rays start to diminish during the changing season, the hairs return to their usual cycle and start to shed as a result.

However, the change is not very noticeable in the majority of people. The truth is, there are other factors such as age, styling, hormones, and genetics that play a more dominant role in our changing hair.  If you think you are experiencing a seasonal shed, I suggest wait for the season to change, chances are the shedding will too! However, when in doubt, it is best to consult a hair loss expert.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Determining the Cause of Hair Loss

For anyone that is concerned about their hair loss, the most important step is to see a hair loss specialist that can help diagnose the cause of your loss and develop a treatment plan specific to your needs.  There are many ways a hair loss specialist can determine the causes of your hair loss, which can include, but is not limited to, a review of your medical history and hair loss history, a physical review of your hair and scalp, or reviewing highly magnified photos of your hair.  One other potential diagnostic test is a blood test.

It is not necessary for every patient to get a blood test, however, for some patient’s a blood test can be very helpful in determining the cause of hair loss.  At Medi Tresse, the hair loss specialists may request a blood test if they feel that further evaluation is necessary to rule out any potential causes of hair loss.  While the blood test may differ for each patient, there are some standard levels we would for any blood test, and these include Ferritin, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Complete Blood Count (CBC), Vitamin D, and Testosterone.

Before you decide to go get your blood tested, it is important to see a hair loss specialist that can help walk you through this process and provide you with the best resources for reviewing the results, and determining if it is necessary.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Best Chance for Successful Hair Loss Treatment

One question we often get from our patients is “what can I do to give myself the best chance at success with my treatment?” This is an important question, because there are a lot of factors that can affect the results of your hair loss treatment.  Unfortunately, medicine is not a perfect science, which means that treatment results can vary, however there are steps you can take to put yourself in the best position to have a successful result.

The first step is seeing a medically trained hair loss specialist.  Not all hair loss treatments are appropriate for each type of hair loss, and a medically trained hair loss specialist should be able to diagnose the cause of your hair loss and determine the best treatments for your specific types of hair loss.  For example, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy is a great treatment for patients with female pattern hair loss, but if the patient has scarring alopecia, the patient will probably not get the desired result.  A medically trained hair loss specialist can ensure that you are truly a candidate for your desired treatment.

The next step is to closely follow any treatment instructions provided by the practice.  This could be in the form of pre and post treatment instructions, for example for Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy there are some medications you should avoid in the days leading up to and the days after your treatment.  This could also be the user instructions provided for a laser cap, which outline the cadence for how often to use the device.

Lastly, you need to realize that any lifestyle, diet, or medical changes that can affect hair health can also affect your treatment results.  While this sounds broad, patients need to understand that a major diet change, life stressor, or change in medicine could affect the body, and in turn your hair. We always tell our patients to try to change as few things as possible during their treatment.  Obviously, there are times you need to take a new medication, and it is important to make your hair loss specialist aware so that they can determine if that medication could be hair loss inducing, because maybe there is an alternative that has less effect on the hair.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

How Often Should I See My Hair Loss Specialist?

Your follow up visits provide an opportunity to track your results, update your hair loss specialist on any changes in diet or medications, and to potentially change the treatment plan if necessary.  So how often should you see your hair loss specialist? Just like visiting your dentist (although hopefully less painful!), at Medi Tresse we recommend follow up visits every six months.

Tracking your results is extremely important, and any hair loss specialist should be taking photos and doing trichoscopy (which is highly magnified photos where you measure the hair) to track your progress.  As you see your hair every day, it is often difficult to notice changes, but in your follow ups you will easily be able to track your progress throughout treatment.

The follow up is an important time to update your hair loss specialist of any major changes in your diet or medications.  A major diet change, like becoming a vegetarian, could affect your hair loss if you are not receiving enough vitamins and nutrients.  Some medications have been found to induce hair loss, and your hair loss specialist can help guide you through if the medication could be problematic to your hair.

For most patients, hair loss is progressive, which means that it will continue to get worse if not treated correctly.  By seeing your hair loss specialist every six months, you can ensure that if you need to make changes to your treatment plan, it is done in timely fashion.  The earlier hair loss is treated, the better chance there is for re-thickening and re-growth during treatment.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

PCOS and Hair Loss

At Medi Tresse we have seen women with all different types of hair loss and varying causes of hair loss.  With any patient we see, the first step is to diagnose the cause of the hair loss.  For many patients, their hair loss is truly genetic, but for others it could be due to a hormone imbalance, stress related, or even a change in medication.  One patient population that we often see is patients with polycystic ovary syndrome, more commonly known as PCOS.

While the cause of PCOS is still unknown, PCOS is an endocrine system disorder, which means the hormones are directly affected.  Common symptoms of patients with PCOS are irregular periods, excess androgen, and polycystic ovaries, which means the ovaries have become enlarged and contain many small cysts.

Women with PCOS can often see thinning hair due to excess androgen levels, which are commonly known as male hormones like testosterone.  Before starting any sort of hair loss treatment, a patient with PCOS would want to make sure that their hormone levels have been checked and are in proper balance.  If a woman has elevated androgens, this can potentially be managed with very specific birth control pills which can block the negative effects on hair.  Once the hormone levels are in proper balance, then the patient could be a candidate for hair loss treatments.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Birth Control and Hair Loss

There are lots of factors that can affect your hair, from genetics, to diet, to stress.  However, one area that is often overlooked is our medications, including birth control.  Now before you read further, we are certainly not advocating that you should immediately stop taking your birth control, as there can be lots of health benefits to birth control.  Rather, different birth control options can have different effects on the hair and it is important to understand these difference so that you can make an informed decision in partnership with your physician.

So how does birth control affect our hair?  While birth control options can work in different ways, many consist of synthetic forms of the hormones estrogen and progesterone (known as progestin).  Shifts in the level of our hormones can significantly affect our hair, especially in those women with a strong pre-disposition to genetic hair loss.

So how do we know if birth control has the potential to negatively affect our hair?  Birth controls that that contain progestin with androgenic effects are much more likely to cause hair loss than those without androgenic effects.  According to the American Hair Loss Association, hormonal contraceptives that have a high chance of increasing hair loss include:

The American Hair Loss Association also created a list of birth control pills ranging from the lowest androgen index to the highest:

It is important to remember that you should not make any changes to your medications, including birth control, without first consulting with your prescribing physician.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Are all Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) Devices the same?

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) has become one of the most popular treatments for female hair loss, and with the increase in popularity we have also seen an increase in at home options.  However, many patients tell us it can be confusing when they try to research and compare all of the LLLT devices.  Before we get into the devices, it is important to understand what exactly is LLLT.

LLLT stimulates the hair follicle cells to grow in the scalp and increases cellular activity around the follicle. This also decreases inflammation so existing hairs can grow thicker and stronger. While LLLT has been proven to be effective for many years, the 2014 double-blind study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, truly showed the power of LLLT in treating hair loss.

With a simple internet search, you will find a number of at home LLLT devices, such as the LCPro by LaserCap, the Capillus, the LaserBand 82 by HairMax, the Theradome, or the iGrow, and this can be very overwhelming to the patient.  However, there are a few key differences that you need to look out for when comparing devices.  First, the laser wavelength should be between 650nm-655nm.  Secondly, the laser output per diode should be 5mw.  Thirdly, the diodes should be true lasers and not just red lights.  Lastly, the number of diodes is extremely important.  Many of the full caps are sold with varying numbers of diodes, often varying between 80 and 272, but you truly need at least 220 diodes in the cap to ensure you are receiving the proper coverage to the entire scalp.  While some products like the HairMax LaserBand 82 only have 82 diodes, since they only cover a third of the head, they have the sufficient number of diodes in the treatment area, you just have to move the device to treat the entire scalp.

If you think you are interested in LLLT, it is important to speak with a hair loss specialist that can not only determine if a LLLT device is right for you, but guide you through the decision making process to purchase the best device.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

How Often Should I Wash My Hair?

One question that we often receive from patients is what is the proper number of times a week to wash your hair?  Before we can answer that question, we need to look at the concern patients have with over washing.  The biggest concern patients tend to have is that they feel they are losing excessive amounts of hair when they are washing their hair.  The truth is that hair loss is not caused by washing our hair.  It is important to understand that the less frequently you wash your hair the greater the appearance of an increase in shedding.  This occurs, because the hairs you normally shed are becoming dislodged all at once, rather than in smaller amounts at multiple times.

Unfortunately, there is no magic number of times a week someone should wash their hair, as different hair types require different types of maintenance.  However, if you over wash your hair you can strip your hair of the natural oils and it can become more dry and brittle, but if you under-wash your hair you can get a buildup of these natural oils, dirt, and skin cells that can affect the health of your follicle.  A general rule of thumb is that you should be washing your hair two to three times per week, but again this is a balance and it depends on your hair type and how you are trying to style your hair.  What is most important to remember is that washing your hair is not causing your hair loss!

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team