Au Naturel, Surgery, or the Dreaded Comb-Over: What to Do When Your Hair Falls Out

So the possibility of hair loss is looming over you. What do you do? First up, you don’t put a vacuum on your head…

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There are a number of reasons why hair loss strikes. It could be in your genes, the stress in your lifestyle, or for the ponytail wearers out there a lifetime of tight hairstyles can leave your follicles taxed. Plus, it can simply be down to aging.

Having your hair start to thin can be a mixed bag. On the one hand you could stumble into a look that works great for you, like Walter White; on the other hand you could feel uncomfortable living life as someone you’re not used to being. Like Walter White.

Fortunately, with all the technology gained from years of human achievement, there is a plethora of treatments available for baldness. It’s just a case of figuring out what exactly you want for your head and how you’re comfortable doing it.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at a few treatments on the market:



Surgeries such as hair plugs and transplants are the flashiest, most expensive treatments around. The technology has been around since at least the 1930s, but progressed towards its current level of sophistication in the 1980s as the surgery became less intrusive and the recovery time less of an issue.

It involves transplanting hair follicles from another part of the patient’s body onto their head. For this reason it’s got an advantage over toupees and other substitutes in that it’s actual hair – 60% of men can’t accurately spot a transplant on another man. The downside is that it’s expensive and still intrusive, sometimes taking multiple sessions and with several factors that could compromise graft survival. Also, although it’s real hair, it’s not head hair, and some people will notice, namely the other 40% of men.

Medicines and Supplements
Medicinal treatments tend to come and go and the real challenge is having the street smarts to tell the helpful products from the snake-oil. Often the products are just about thickening what hair you do have rather than growing more and so are short-term oriented, enough to get you past whatever ‘this many months or your money back’ period, but not much longer. Of course, by that time the people who sold you it could be laughing all the way to the bank, as women fondle their glorious, silky head carpet. Oh well.

Be even more wary of dietary supplements that say they can help. The difference between a dietary supplement and a medicine is that medicines have to pass through more testing and obey more regulations, whereas if you’re manufacturing a dietary supplement you can slap words like ‘guaranteed’ and ‘accentuates hair growth’ all across the label and let the small print pick up the slack.

The key when shopping for these aids is to avoid packaging with words like ‘helps’, ‘assists’ and ‘contributes to’ – words which make no indication of their effectiveness, only that they can try or help. In theory, I can try to lift a mountain, or help in doing so. It doesn’t mean I’m actually Hercules.

In terms of adapting to baldness, there’s the comb-over, the skullet or the standard-issue border of hair around the top of your head. The skullet is a no-go unless you’re a spandex clad professional wrestler, the frontman of an industrial metal band or a methamphetamine dealer, and my bosses assured me that I wouldn’t be writing for any of those demographics any time soon. Having hair bordering your head is fine for some, but it’s not really a fix. Plus if you can’t pull it off it just makes the top of your head look like a scalpy peninsula.

The comb-over is a high-risk, high-payoff hairstyle. Get it right and it can look great, but get it wrong… Really the only solution is to keep on the lookout for comb-overs you see on other people, and imagine if they’d suit your head.

Long discredited, but actually not a bad option. The modern toupée has come a long way from its humble beginnings as an easily-spotted head rug. Thanks in part to innovations that have trickled down from Hollywood costume designers, the hair strands and attachment glues are less irritating, and more importantly, less visible. The really good ones will set you back within the triple digits, but when you have the option of hair or no hair depending on the day, it’s a worthwhile purchase.

Just Be Bald
It’s one of the weirdest cultural stigmas, and it’s arbitrary. Not all of us get to live a full 40 years of having hair; some lose it in their teens. For some it’s just hair, but for others it’s a challenge to their male identity, or their self-esteem. If the latter two of these affect you, hopefully this article has given you some ideas on how to combat nature.

If they don’t, you might not really need treatment at all. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with looking into remedies or alternatives to going full-dome. But make sure that if you’re agonising over a cure for baldness you’re doing it for you, not due to someone else’s social pressure. After all, being bald really suits some men!

Have you had any particular luck with treating baldness, or have a hair-related story that others should hear? If so, why not leave us a comment?

Johann is a health writer who collaborated on the Dr Fox Guide to Hair Loss, and who is currently the proud owner of a full head of hair – but let’s see what happens a decade down the line!

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