Answers to Men’s Hair Loss

New treatments for baldness include micro tattoos that mimic the appearance of a short buzz cut

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Two out of three American men show noticeable hair loss by age 35, according to the American Hair Loss Association, based in Calabasas, Calif. By 50, the number jumps to 85 percent and the hair loss is significant. A whopping 25 percent begin the process of male pattern balding by age 21.

Men who want to do something about their hair loss have more options available than ever.

Hair transplants are still quite in demand. The provider moves the hair and follicle from a donor site such as the back of the head to the thinning area. The results are permanent and since the hair was grown on the man’s head, there’s no chance the body will reject it.

Before considering hair transplantation procedures, patients should ensure they know the reason for their hair loss.

“Sometimes hair loss isn’t always male pattern,” said Jonathan Turowski, board-certified adult-gerontology and primary care nurse practitioner who works at Neiman Dermatology and Hair Transplantation in Buffalo.

Thyroid disease or stress can cause hair to thin, for example. Turowski has had patients inquire about hair restoration after they experienced a difficult break-up with a girlfriend.

Nutrition also plays a role. Turowski recommends taking a B vitamin supplement — an effort that offers mixed results — and having vitamin D levels checked by a primary care provider.

Neiman Dermatology and Hair Transplantation offers hair transplants, scalp reduction surgery, and oral and topical medication.

Turowski said that with medication, patients must continue using it or the newly grown hairs will begin to shed. Patients also don’t have control over where the hair grows.

Surgery, however, offers a lasting, targeted solution, he said.

Turowski described two types of transplantation: follicular unit transplantation and follicular unit extraction. The former involves taking a strip of hairs from the donor site and dividing them up to implant. With the latter of the two procedures, the surgeon takes individual hairs.

Injecting plasma-rich protein from the patient’s own blood can help support the success of either type of transplantation technique.

Some men buzz or completely shave their heads to minimizes the contrast between balding areas and intact areas. But shaved guys lose the definition that a hairline provides. Some feel that shaving detracts from their facial features.

That’s where Scalp Aesthetics may help. Founded in Rochester, the company has spread to 160 locations worldwide, including Buffalo. Technicians use an extremely thin needle to perform micro tattoos on a man’s balding areas to mimic the appearance of a short buzz cut.

The technician goes only one layer deep with organic ink that matches the client’s natural color. Since the ink contains no metals, it cannot change color significantly. Because the needle doesn’t go deep like regular tattoos, most clients experience little pain.

Going too deep makes the ink spread. The rest of the client’s hair should stay cut within one millimeter long to blend with the tiny tattoos.

Eric Taylor of Rochester responded to an ad for Scalp Aesthetics to solve his hair woes. He had the procedure done in 2013 and couldn’t be happier with his look. Now he works as the company’s global sales and operations manager.

He said that many people have told him he should grow out his hair, not realizing that his “full head of hair” was mostly tattooed.

For most top-of-the-head procedures, the client receives 15,000 tiny hair replicated dots. Taylor chose a slightly receded hairline which he felt appears more realistic for his age.

Taylor said that he likes the permanency of his hair loss solution, and the fact that he doesn’t have to worry about swimming, wind or sweating as with hairpieces. His only maintenance is shaving his remaining hair every 48 to 72 hours and a touch-up of the tattoos every seven to eight years, as the ink can fade slightly over time.

“It works well with the graying process,” Taylor said. “If someone has it done in their 30s, he can come back two or three times before they can let it go along with the graying process of the natural hair.”

The typical procedure costs $3,000 to $5,000.