Miniaturization and Balding
Are you miniaturizing? No, I don’t mean playing with model cars, army men, or a million other connotations of the word. I’m talking about miniaturization in relation to balding. As in, you may have started balding, and don’t even know it yet. Let me explain…
There are over 100 million people in this country suffering from visible balding (or other hair loss problems). There are many others, though, that have started the process of balding and don’t even know it. It takes over a 50% loss of hair volume to actually have signs of thinning and balding. Hair volume is related to the density, which is the number of follicles per square centimeter, as well as the actual diameter of the hair.
This can occur by follicle death and density loss, or through the process where hair shaft diameters start to shrink or miniaturize. Most of the patients I talk to about options for hair restoration and hair replacement procedures think that they have lost hair density from follicles dying off.
Though most patients with a long-term holding pattern may have hair follicle death, those in the early stages suffer mainly from a more devastating effect called miniaturization. Miniaturization occurs when the hair follicle matrix (which contains the stem cells for hair) start to degenerate. Through the effects of one’s genes, the balding scalp environment cannot support the energy requirements of follicle matrix. Over time, the matrix shrinks, taking with it the diameter of the hair shaft, eventually leading to a peach fuzz look and hair follicle death.
It’s similar to your lawn – if your grass is not receiving proper sunlight, fertilization and water, then the soil environment changes – and your luscious lawn may become patchy and thin.
This is important, because miniaturization has twice effect on hair volume compared to actual hair density lost. If you recall fifth-grade math class (I know it’s painful – stay with me here), radius squared times pi equals the surface area of a circle. As result, the effects of a decrease in the radius/shaft diameter of the hair has a squared effect on surface area, which can be significant with respect overall hair volume, and your look. This means that if 20% of your hair becomes miniaturized, this will have a 40% effect on volume. If 20% of your hair was actually lost as result of density depletion, then there’s a 20% loss in volume, which could be a variation of normal.
As I said earlier, it takes 50% hair volume loss either through loss of density (number of follicles per area) or miniaturization (loss of hair volume) before there is an obvious appearance of thinning and balding. When it is below 50%, the actual volume loss and thinning may not be visible.
At North Atlanta Hair Restoration, we offer a free consultation that checks one’s hair volume in a scientifically accurate manner to determine actual balding before it’s noticed. In other words, we’ll catch miniaturization. We are also able to calculate and set up a risk profile for people who are at risk for balding (those with a strong family history or pertinent medical risk factors.)
It is important to catch balding early, because then we can begin the process of reversing miniaturization, and help thicken hair long-term. Contact North Atlanta Hair Restoration today by calling or booking a free consultation today.
Dr. Daniel A. Danyo is the founder and medical director of North Atlanta Hair Restoration, specializing in treating hair loss in both men and women. He is one of only 300 people in the world certified by the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery.
He is a member of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery, International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons, American Hair Loss Association, and The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery.
He is also an early adopter and pioneer of Shave-less FUE, one of the most discreet surgical procedures available for hair restoration. Dr. Danyo performs every procedure himself, from start to finish. He individually extracts and places every graft on every patient. Learn more about Dr. Danyo on his Meet Dr. Danyo page.