It’s difficult to say whether your hair will follow the same path as your father’s. Androgenetic alopecia – more commonly known as male pattern baldness – does run in families, however you can carry the gene without expressing it.
If you have reached the age your father was when his hair started thinning and you haven’t noticed any hair loss yet yourself, then you may have escaped the gene, or it may be going to express itself slightly later for you than it did for your father.
Androgenetic alopecia and your genes
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of progressive hair loss in both men and women. In men it is more commonly known as male pattern baldness and usually presents in a specific pattern which explains the name. Men will typically see receding at the hairline and at the top of the crown, which over time to can progress to almost complete hairloss on the top of the head. In women it presents slightly differently, with diffuse hair thinning all over the head and rarely hairline recession.
Although there are thought to be a number of genes that are linked to hair loss, so far the spotlight has been shone on the AR gene and its association with androgenetic alopecia. Although other environmental factors come into play, which we’ll discuss in more depth later, this is the genetic element that plays a role in you losing your hair.
Hormones called androgens, particularly an androgen called dihydrotesterone, attack the hair follicles, causing them to shrink until hair is no longer produced. It’s been discovered that those suffering from androgenetic alopecia don’t necessarily have higher levels of this hormone, but that they are just more susceptible to the effects of dihydrotesterone.
The AR gene is involved in the production of a protein called an androgen receptor and it is these androgen receptors that deal with androgens including dihydrotesterone. Variations in the AR gene lead to increased activity of the androgen receptors in the hair follicles.
Although you can’t beat your genes there are other actions you can take:
Look after yourself
Lifestyle factors can have an effect on the onset of hair thinning – if your father was a smoker, for example, or had a particularly stressful job, these things may have played a part in his early hair loss, although it is unlikely that they would have resulted in total baldness.
If you are concerned that you have inherited male pattern baldness, you can try to slowdown its onset by looking after yourself – avoiding smoking or heavy drinking and trying to lead a healthy lifestyle with as little unnecessary stress as possible.
If you have started to notice thinning hair yourself – most commonly either a receding hairline or thinning at the crown – there are some surgical options which can present a solution. Surgical hair restoration techniques include the traditional strip procedure, where a strip of scalp is removed from the back of the head and the follicles are transplanted to the thinning area, and the newer direct hair implantation (DHI) or follicular unit extraction (FUE) techniques, where individual hair follicles are transplanted from a donor area at the back of the head to the area of thinning hair.
Non Surgical Solutions
Scalp Micropigmentation is an increasingly popular choice for men and women with hair loss. It sees bespoke equipment in the form of computer controlled micro needles to deliver specialised, non metallic and totally organic, pigments – perfectly recreating the look of a buzz cut full head of hair. The treatment can also be used to camouflage scars from hair transplant surgery.
Seek expert advice
The best thing to do before making any plans for hair restoration procedures is to visit a hair loss expert, who will be able to assess your hair for signs of male pattern baldness and advise on ways to prevent or reverse hair loss.