A receding hairline is an almost universal problem among men, affecting about 50% of men after 50 years old, and 70% of all men at some point in their life. Although there are many possible causes, hairline recession is most commonly caused by genetic male pattern hair loss, also known as androgenic alopecia.
A high forehead or hairline may be associated with wisdom and may give some men a mature appearance. However, an excessively receded hairline tends to make men look older than they actually are because the facial proportions are disrupted. Hence, men experiencing a receding hairline may want to seek treatment to restore their hair.
The hair growth cycle
Healthy human hair typically experiences a 3-stage growth cycle:
- Anagen/Growth Phase.
This is the phase of active hair growth, which lasts for 3 to 7 years typically.
- Catagen/Transitional Phase
Hair in this stage is slowly transitioning into the resting phase. Hair growth is greatly slowed as the follicles shrink. Catagen lasts between 2 to 4 months.
- Telogen/Resting Phase.
Hair growth stops at this phase and the old hair will begin to shed off so new hair can grow. Typically, 5 to 10% of all our hair at this stage at all times.
What causes the hairline to recede?
A receding hairline in men is most commonly caused by male pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia). This happens when hair follicles are damaged by the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is produced when the body breaks down testosterone, a male sex hormone. DHT interacts with hair follicles, causing them to shrink. This makes new hair growth thinner, while shortening the anagen phase significantly. Eventually, the hair growth is so thin and short-lived that it sheds before emerging from the skin, leaving a bald spot.
Male pattern hair loss typically affects older men, starting from their forties, when the body experiences hormonal changes. However, it can appear any time after puberty, beginning in the late teens to early twenties for some severe cases.
Hairline recession can also be a result of other conditions, like infection from skin diseases (Frontal fibrosing alopecia), mechanical factors like physically pulling your hair (Traction alopecia) and psychological stress (telogen effluvium). These are however much rarer and usually not the case.
Treatment for receding hairline in men
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) Hair Transplant
The most direct and perhaps most effective treatment for a receding hairline is FUE hair transplant. As the name suggests, healthy hair is directly transplanted into the balding areas, bringing the hairline forward.
During the procedure, hair follicular units (known as “grafts”) are extracted from regions least prone to hair loss, which is usually the side or back of the head. The grafts are carefully examined, sorted based on the number of follicles in each graft, and finally, carefully planted into the balding regions to restore the hairline.
Our doctors will help patients determine the final shape of the restored hairline with several considerations:
- Caucasian and Asian men tend to have curved hairlines (a “widow’s peak”) as compared to those of African descent.
- A 50-year old will look unnatural with a hairline of a 20-year old and vice versa.
- Individual characteristics like head curvature, face shape, direction of hair flow and growth.
- Personal preferences. Some patients may want a slightly higher forehead as it is regarded as a sign of wisdom in some cultures.
The newly transplanted follicles may shed their hair within the first few months, but these hairs will eventually grow back. The best results typically show after about a year and can last for life provided patients take good care of the transplanted hair.
FUE hair transplant usually take 4 to 8 hours to complete depending on the number of grafts. It is performed under local anaesthesia to minimise pain and discomfort.
- Regenera Activa
Regenera Activa is a treatment to promote active hair growth that is effective in managing a receding hairline in the early stages. It works by inducing dormant hair follicles to enter an active growth phase.
Like FUE Hair Transplant, a handful (around 6) healthy hair grafts are extracted from the back or side of the head. The grafts are loaded into the Regenera Activa device and combined with a specialised solution to create a suspension of viable scalp cells. Our doctors will then inject this into strategic points around the receding hairline. This injection triggers capillary regeneration processes, stimulating dormant hair follicles to enter the active growth phase and eventually restoring the hairline.
Regenera Activa is performed under local anaesthesia and will usually take about 45 minutes to complete. For the best results, our doctors recommend repeating the treatment once every 6 months.
There are many drugs available to help manage a receding hairline. Typically, the most common medication for hair loss is oral or topical minoxidil. Minoxidil works by improving blood flow to the scalp, promoting new hair growth and restoring hair to balding regions.
Finasteride (propecia) is another option for men seeking treatment for hair loss. It works by preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the molecule responsible for pattern hair loss in men as it can damage hair follicles. By disrupting this conversion, finasteride effectively reduces hormone induced hair loss in men. For the same reason, finasteride is not suitable for women in most cases as it interacts with male hormones.
- Fraxel Laser for hair restoration
The 1927nm Thullium Fraxel Laser is a specialised Laser used for skin rejuvenation and hair restoration. The Laser work via 2 main mechanisms: Removal of old/dead cells and stimulating new cell growth in both the scalp and hair follicles. By targeting the regions experiencing hair loss, Fraxel Laser can induce hair follicles to enter the active growth phase, directing improving the rate of hair growth and restoring the hairline.
Bellasonic is one of the latest Ultrasound Therapy devices that is imported from South Korea to be used in The Clifford Clinic for hair restoration. It works by emitting high-frequency ultrasound between 1-10MHz into the scalp to promote regenerative processes. The ultrasound improves blood circulation to the hair follicles and simultaneously activates molecules like Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs), which promotes cell regeneration. Together, these effects actively promote hair growth, eventually restoring the hairline.
Treatment for a receding hairline should not be delayed as hair loss treatments work best in the early stages of hair loss. At later stages, most treatments have limited effects. Hence, it is important to seek treatment as early as possible if you have a receding hairline.
With over 10 years of experience in attending to patients suffering from hair loss, our doctors at The Clifford Clinic will gladly provide you with the necessary professional help to manage your receding hairline. Each patient’s condition is examined closely before they customise an individualised treatment regimen for you in Singapore.
Which treatment is the most suitable for me?
The most suitable treatment differs for each patient as the individual conditions are different. However, the following is usually the case:
For early stages, Regenera Activa, Medication, Fraxel Laser and Bellasonic are all relatively effective in most patients. FUE hair transplant is usually not required, but may still be considered.
In the later stages of hairline recession, FUE hair transplant is usually recommended as most other treatments have limited effects at this stage.
As each person’s condition is unique and there may be underlying causes for the hair loss, we highly recommend consulting our doctors for their personalised professional advice to rule out other possible causes before starting treatment.
Are the treatments painful?
Bellasonic is a completely painless treatment that can be performed comfortably.
FUE hair transplant and Regenera Activa is performed under local anaesthesia so there is minimal discomfort felt. Our doctors will also prescribe painkillers to help you manage the soreness felt after treatment.
Fraxel Laser can be mildly painful but usually tolerable for most patients. We will also help you apply numbing cream to alleviate some of the pain.