Competitive bodybuilders have a laser-like focus and fierce determination to achieve their goals. If you are among those dedicated to chiseling yourself to perfection, that moment on the competition stage in front of the judges is the most important. During this critical time, showing your confidence is the direct result of your success in all aspects of your training – as well as your attitude about yourself during your daily life.
If you’ve been experiencing hair loss, your self-image could be negatively impacted. Let’s face the truth – in our society, the progression of hair loss signals the loss of youth and vitality, no matter how sculpted you are. Some men embrace their baldness, but not everyone has the shape of head that looks good completely bereft of hair. Although judges don’t award points for hair, they do take into account the amount of self-confidence you project.
You also might be wondering if all that’s involved in striving to be the best in this demanding sport that’s actually a way of life is causing your hairline to recede. It’s time to learn what you need to know about this complex issue so you can make informed decisions.
Does Bodybuilding Cause Hair Loss?
Hair loss is a common issue among bodybuilders, but is the process itself the cause? As you probably already know, androgenetic alopecia (AGA) – otherwise known as male pattern hair loss (although it also occurs in women) – is in the genetic hand you’ve been dealt. However, as our blog post – “How Lifestyle Affects Hair Loss” – covers, lifestyle can trigger hair loss, or accelerate it in those genetically predisposed.
But first, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. Those looking to increase muscle mass and athletic performance have long turned to anabolic steroids, despite their dangerous side effects. Add hair loss to the list. Although not life-threatening, it’s indicative of the other negative conditions steroid use triggers. Those who are genetically predisposed to AGA can quickly accelerate its progression. This is 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.
Assuming you avoid anabolic steroids use, other factors can account for hair loss. Look at it this way. As a competitive bodybuilder, you push your body to the extreme for prolonged periods – far beyond what most others are willing or able to do. According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, intense resistance exercise itself can cause increases in androgenic hormones (testosterone for males). Our next section will cover the findings of this important study in further detail.
How Diet and Nutrition Can Affect Hair Loss for Bodybuilders – Facts and Myths
You may have read some conflicting reports on the effects of workout supplements and hair loss. Here is what we know for certain. Following a strict diet to maintain your physique may mean you’re not getting enough nutrients – such as vitamins and minerals – which are essential for healthy hair growth. 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), leading to hair loss. However, such hair loss is temporary, and (in healthy individuals) hair resumes normal growth when nutritional balance is restored.
Creatine supplements have gained popularity as a means of enhancing stamina, developing strength and increasing muscle mass. However, creatine has a reputation for hair loss as a side effect. Although creatine may indirectly increase the level of DHT, no definitive link between creatine and balding has been established. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition study cited earlier, this belief is based upon a single study in which college-aged male rugby players who supplemented with creatine experienced an increase in DHT concentrations over time.
“Given that changes in these hormones, particularly DHT, have been linked to some (but not all) occurrences of hair loss/baldness, the theory that creatine supplementation leads to hair loss / baldness gained some momentum and this potential link continues to be a common question / myth today. It is important to note that the results of [the study] have not been replicated, and that intense resistance exercise itself can cause increases in these androgenic hormones.”
So while creatine may not cause hair loss, keep in mind that maintaining a balance of nutrients is imperative in giving your body what it needs to be healthy, as well as to achieve optimum performance.
Making the Decision to Get a Hair Transplant
As a competitive bodybuilder, you know that appearances count! While most say they believe that people shouldn’t be judged on the basis of their appearance, you actually are, in every competition! For whatever reason you’re experiencing hair loss, a hair transplant procedure can help you get the psychological boost that gives you that all-important competitive edge. When you take the stage looking and feeling your very best, the judges will take notice!
Dr. Marco Barusco – Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Tempus Hair Restoration – counts many competitive bodybuilders among his patients, achieving the desirable look of healthy natural growth. He understands their concerns and recommends the most appropriate procedure for each individual’s situation.
In addition to the popular Follicular Unit Excision (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) procedures, Dr. Barusco offers two advanced – yet proven – procedures that can help those who are in the public eye and need to present a particular image to their audience. He developed the groundbreaking No-Shave FUE, which completely conceals harvested donor sites of the scalp immediately, allowing the patient to resume regular activities with virtually no evidence of the procedure.
The Combination FUE and FUT covers large areas of baldness in a single surgery. Patients with advanced hair loss are typically required to undergo multiple hair transplant procedures to obtain coverage of their entire bald scalp – having to wait one year or more between procedures. This allows patients to achieve their ultimate goal sooner, with one procedure versus many.
While each procedure provides an advantage to bodybuilders in regard to a reduction in aesthetic downtime that could affect your ability to compete, Dr. Barusco will base his recommendation on his determination as to whether you’re an appropriate candidate.
Regardless of which procedure is right for you, post-surgery care is crucial. You may have had a procedure that doesn’t look as if you’ve just received a hair transplant, but the surgical site needs sufficient time to heal. To give your hair grafts the best possible opportunity to heal and establish themselves, you should wait at least one month after a hair transplant before going to the gym, lifting weights or doing other strenuous exercise. This also will decrease the possibility of bleeding or trauma, which could affect the grafts. Your surgeon should take your lifestyle into account when giving post-op care instructions.
Choose Your Surgeon Wisely to Be Your Best
The path you’ve chosen as a competitive bodybuilder is demanding. As high as your standards of physical excellence are, you’re always striving to meet those of the judges. Your standards of a hair restoration surgeon should be just as high.
Choose your surgeon 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!