Although many people assume that the cause of male hair loss is entirely genetic, lifestyle and health play an important role. No element of the human body exists or functions independently of the others – including hair follicles. Whether you’re making choices that are good for your health or undermine it, the results will be evident in the quality and quantity of your hair. This is not to claim that clean, healthy living will prevent hair loss if, indeed, androgenetic alopecia (AGA) – otherwise known as male or female pattern hair loss – is in the genetic hand you’ve been dealt. But it will make conditions more favorable for successful growth should you decide to get a hair restoration procedure, as well as possibly prevent other types of hair loss.
Conversely, certain choices can accelerate the progression of AGA, and make restoration challenging, if not impossible in some cases. We’ll look at the lifestyle choices that impact hair loss, and why they have an effect.
How Smoking Affects Hair Loss
The devastating effects that smoking has on health are well-known. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor – which makes blood vessels contract. This restricts the delivery of oxygen to every cell of the body, including the skin and hair follicles. Over time, this makes hair regrowth harder, so when strands fall out, they aren’t replaced as readily – or at all.
As published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (JCD), a research study was conducted on 1,000 healthy males ages 20 to 35 to assess the demographic and clinical features of early-onset AGA among smokers and nonsmokers and to evaluate whether prevalence of AGA was affected by smoking. The study found that the prevalence of AGA among smokers was statistically higher than among nonsmokers, while severity of AGA was not associated with the intensity of smoking. The study concluded that nicotine and its derivative cotinine might be responsible for accelerating AGA progress.
In addition to nicotine starving cells of oxygen, the numerous toxic substances in cigarettes have been implicated in causing damage to the DNA of hair follicles.
It is typical practice for surgeons to tell their patients who smoke to abstain for at least two days prior to surgery. Dr. Marco Barusco – Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Tempus Hair Restoration – is no exception.
“Smoking makes the blood vessels in your scalp and all over your body contract. And that can actually impair your healing and impair the growth of the transplant.”
How Diet Can Affect Hair Loss
The old adage, “You are what you eat” is true. Unfortunately, many people lack the information they need to achieve a balanced diet, or go to extremes – either making high-fat, high-calorie fast food the mainstay of their diet, or following every quick weight loss fad that comes along. Neither are good for your long-term general health, or the health of your hair.
Hair is sensitive to nutritional imbalances. An inadequate intake of essential vitamins or minerals can impact the hair growth (anagen phase)/rest cycle (telogen phase). For this reason, a junk food diet high in saturated fat, salt and sugar – and low in essential vitamins and nutrients –not only leads to hair follicles being poorly nourished, but increases the risk for type 2 diabetes.
For those with type 2 diabetes, persistently high uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to damage in various tissues, organs and blood vessels. Damage to blood vessels can restrict blood flow, resulting in certain cells receiving less oxygen and nutrients than they need. This deficiency can negatively impact the normal growth cycle of hair follicles, which can lead to hair loss.
In addition, according to a study published in the Texas Heart Journal Institute, obesity is the leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. However, any weight loss program needs to be based on the fundamentals of healthy nutrition and physical activity. So called “crash” diets are harmful, as well – to both hair and overall health.
A WebMD article points out the following: “Dramatically restricting your calorie intake means that you likely are not ingesting enough essential nutrients, like protein, fatty acids and zinc. These deficiencies, especially if maintained over a period of time, can lead to a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium. The good news is that this condition is generally reversible, so adopting healthier, less restrictive eating habits will allow your hair to grow back.”
Fad diets likewise tend to be imbalanced in food varieties and essential nutrients, and therefore also should be avoided. Any healthy weight loss program will be based upon gradual results – rather than a dramatic drop – and not be considered a “diet,” but a true long-term modification that becomes a way of life.
As for the question as to whether alcohol use causes hair loss, the answer is yes in the case of excessive alcohol use and alcohol addiction. Two of the main reasons are:
- Poor nutrition, or not eating the right nutrients.
- Inability to absorb the proper nutrients because of alcohol consumption.
How Steroid Use Affects Hair Loss
Bodybuilders and others looking to increase muscle mass and athletic performance have long turned to anabolic steroids, despite their dangerous side effects and risk of addiction being widely known. Add hair loss to the list. Although not life-threatening in and of itself, it’s an indication of the other negative conditions steroid use triggers. Those who are genetically predisposed to AGA can quickly accelerate its progression. Why? Because the Type II 5-alpha reductase enzyme transforms testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT clings to receptors on hair follicles and causes them to weaken. Hair loss accelerated by steroid use is permanent.
Good Health is the Foundation for Healthy Hair – and a Successful Hair Transplant Procedure
No matter how much of your hair you keep by living a healthy lifestyle, good health and the ability to enjoy life to its fullest are their own rewards! As mentioned earlier, being in good overall health will help set the stage for success should you decide to have a hair restoration procedure. Your scalp and hair follicles will receive an optimum supply of blood and oxygen so that the implanted grafts can take hold and thrive. Our blog post – “An Up-close Look at Hair Grafts” – explains the anatomy of a hair graft, as well as how grafts are harvested and implanted.
Of course, in order to achieve the best result possible from your hair transplant, choose your surgeon wisely – based on experience, results and integrity. Dr. Barusco’s long list of accomplishments, his notable artistic ability and his successful surgical team make Tempus Hair Restoration a renowned practice. Contact us to schedule your free virtual consultation. Dr. Barusco conducts every consultation himself, giving you the opportunity to learn your options in the comfort of your home – or any location, on any internet-enabled device.
Dr. Barusco conducts consultations in English, Spanish and Portuguese. For your greater convenience, Tempus Hair Restoration offers a two-night complimentary hotel stay to out-of-town clients who travel 100 miles or more to our Port Orange, Florida, surgical center. No matter how far the distance, we welcome the opportunity to help you on your hair restoration journey!