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Today's health topic – the bald truth about male hair loss

Jude Law’s had rave reviews starring as Hamlet on stage this summer – but what got everyone gossiping as he signed autographs outside the theatre? His receding hairline. It isn’t the first time his crowning glory has been the centre of attention – in 2005 it was reported that he’d consulted a Harley Street expert […]

Written by Gary Heron

Posted on: July 31, 2009

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Jude Law’s had rave reviews starring as Hamlet on stage this summer – but what got everyone gossiping as he signed autographs outside the theatre? His receding hairline.

It isn’t the first time his crowning glory has been the centre of attention – in 2005 it was reported that he’d consulted a Harley Street expert after the first signs that his mane was in retreat.

Perhaps it’s such a talking point because his lustrous locks have always been part of his handsome, youthful appeal.

And Dec Donnelly – one half of Ant and Dec – was spotted leaving a London restaurant this week looking decidedly thinner on top.

Although hair loss is common in men – more than half of UK males will have lost some hair by the age of 50 – for some it can really knock their confidence, especially if it happens very young.


Fortunately, going bald is becoming less of a stigma for men as attractive guys like actor Billy Zane and tennis star Andre Agassi proudly sport hair-free heads.

Will it happen to you?

Around 80% of cases of male-pattern baldness are hereditary. Last year, scientists found that a combination of two genetic variants can increase your risk by seven times – and around 14 in 100 men are affected.

This type of baldness, which can also affect some women after the menopause, is caused by oversensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), made from male hormone testosterone.

While there’s still no outright cure and most men learn to live with it, here are your options if you’re determined to hang on to your follicles.


Scalp lotion

Minoxidil is a lotion you rub on your scalp every day and is available over the counter from pharmacies.

It’s not known for sure exactly how it works (it was originally used in pill form to treat high blood pressure) but studies suggest it slows down hair loss in about half of those who use it, while about 15 in every 100 will be lucky enough to get some hair re-growth. An unfortunate one in three won’t see any change at all.

You have to use it for at least four months to see benefits – as soon as you stop, hair loss carries on as before. It costs around £80 for six months of treatment.

Finasteride (Propecia)

This daily tablet prevents testosterone being converted into DHT, the hormone that causes hair follicles to shrink.

Around two-thirds of men who take it get some hair re-growth while hair loss slows in around 80 per cent.

As with minoxidil, you need to take it for at least four months before you’ll see benefits, which only last while you’re taking it. You can get it on private prescription from your GP at around £90 for three months’ supply.

Hair transplants: Finding a surgeon

(1) Check that your GP or dermatologist agree a hair transplant would be suitable for you. He or she may even be able to suggest someone.

(2) Shop around – It’s not just price you should be looking at. Compare surgeons’ approaches – they should ask questions about your motivation and expectations and give detailed information about what the process will involve – how many procedures you’ll need, how long it will all take, and how much hair re-growth you can realistically expect.

(3) Make sure the surgeon is properly qualified. He or she should be registered with the General Medical Council and belong to the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgeons.

Ideally I’d recommend they perform at least 100 transplants a year. The clinic should be registered with the Healthcare Commission.

(4) Stay away from anyone who tries to get you to sign up that day – it’s a big decision and they should let you go away and think about it.

(5) Beware of anyone who tells you there are no risks or success is 100% guaranteed – they’re being less than honest.

(6) Ask to see before-and-after pictures, and maybe to speak to another patient.

(7) Don’t commit if you’re not totally sure or don’t feel completely comfortable with the doctor.


See your GP if your hair loss doesn’t follow the usual pattern of receding hairline followed by thinning hair on the crown and temples. This could mean it’s due to a medical condition, such as anaemia or thyroid problems, which needs treating.

But if you want to treat hair loss of any kind, it’s worth seeing your GP first. He or she will be able to go through your options and their pros and cons as well as referring you to a dermatologist if appropriate. This way you know you’ll get sound information – while most private clinics are excellent, not all give impartial advice.

Above all, be wary of ads for products or treatments making amazing claims. There are very few hair-loss treatments that have been proven to work so far.


Bald heads may one day be a thing of the past, Scientists are currently working on cloning an individual’s hair cells then injecting them back into the bald areas.

Costs mount if you go under the knife

If treatments haven’t worked for you, and you really want your locks back, there are surgical options but they’re not available on the NHS and cost a few thousand pounds:

Hair transplant
This involves removing a small piece of scalp from the back of the head where there’s still hair, then grafting hairs on to the bald bits. Techniques have improved hugely over recent years so, if done correctly, results look natural rather than that obvious planted look of the past when hairs would grow in straight rows.

You should see results in about nine months but you’ll need more than one session with around nine to 12 months between each. There’s a small risk of infection, as with any op, but otherwise it’s relatively low-risk and is done under a local anaesthetic. It’s not suitable for everyone – hair loss should have stabilised and you need adequate hair around the sides and back.

Artificial hair
This involves implanting synthetic fibres in the scalp under a local anaesthetic but it has serious risks of infection and scarring, which is why most dermatologists, including me, don’t recommend it. However, some clinics play down the risks so be careful.

In order to treat hair loss effectively we would recommend that you have a diagnosis made as soon as possible by one of our experienced Westminster Trichologists. Stress can be an aggravator in almost all cases of hair loss and an accurate diagnosis will always, at the very least, take some of the stress away from you.

Gary Heron says: “You’ll have access to the most effective treatments available through The Hair Centre and at a fraction of the cost of going to other Private Commercial Clinics and Centres.”

When it’s time to see the Trichologist: If you begin losing hair rapidly, and or are cosmetically concerned about baldness, consult your Trichologist about treatment options. You can receive a free hair loss consultation with a Westminster Trichologist at our Hair Centre.

The point is that you are not getting to the real problem and you should seek specific professional advice from a Westminster Trichologist.

“Why buy hair loss treatments over the counter or on the internet when you can see a Westminster Trichologist for FREE and know that you are guaranteed results”

Do you have Hair Loss Problems, read our Hair Loss Help