Watching your hairline recede or noticing bald spots on your scalp can feel like being stuck in a nightmare. But this scenario is all too real for millions of people around the world.
Coping with hair loss can be emotionally challenging and leave you wondering what can be done to stop or reverse it.
There are various treatment options available to people who are losing their locks. However, many of them work best when used in the early stages of hair loss.
If you’ve been avoiding treatment in the hopes that your condition will reverse on its own, you may want to reconsider. At some point, it could become too late for available treatment methods to work for you.
But how late is too late for hair restoration? Here’s what to know about hair loss treatments and signs you’ve reached the “point of no return” for hair restoration.
Understanding Your Hair Loss Treatment Options
As with any medical condition, seeking prompt care for your diminishing hairline is essential for a good outcome. Depending on the severity of your hair loss, early treatment might be as simple as applying topical foams or gels.
Or you might need to take more drastic action such as hair restoration surgery. If you wait too long to treat your condition, it could become too late for treatments to work.
Many factors can impact the effectiveness of hair restoration treatments, including your age, the extent of your hair loss, and chosen treatment method. Here are a few of the hair loss treatment options available to you.
Topical creams, shampoos, and foams are wildly popular for treating male- or female-pattern hair loss. Minoxidil and finasteride are two of the most popular treatments for early symptoms of hair thinning. Many users find that they slow the rate of hair loss or stop it completely. That said, finasteride is not typically recommended for women. It can cause birth defects, weight gain, depression, and other undesirable symptoms in women.
Low-level laser therapy uses low-level lasers to stimulate the hair follicles. When dormant or weak follicles absorb the laser light, they may activate and regenerate. LLLT shows promise for stopping baldness and regrowing lost locks, but more research is needed. The results of this treatment are inconsistent, with some people experiencing good outcomes while others do not.
A surgical hair transplant is often the last resort for people who haven’t experienced good outcomes from less invasive treatments. Follicular unit extraction (FUE) is one of the most popular hair transplant methods because it yields natural-looking results. You’ll need to schedule a consultation with a hair transplant surgeon to determine whether you’re a good candidate.
Your surgeon will likely use the Norwood scale to analyze the progression of your hair loss. Hair restoration treatments usually offer the best outcomes when used in the early stages of hair loss. The longer your hair follicles have been dormant and the more scarring you have on your scalp, the harder it is for hair restoration to be successful.
When Is Too Late for Hair Restoration?
The above hair restoration products and procedures work well for many people. But waiting too long to treat your condition could lead to a point of no return. The Norwood scale is a grading system used to rate male pattern hair loss. It can give some clues about how late is too late for hair restoration products or procedures. Here are the various stages and what they could mean for your hair restoration options.
This is the initial stage of hair loss. During this stage, there’s no visible hairline recession and most people don’t realize their locks are thinning.
During this stage, you may notice that the hair around your temples isn’t as thick as it used to be. However, your hairline still looks fairly normal besides that. It’s wise to begin hair restoration treatment as soon as possible.
This stage is marked by significant loss along the hairline. You may begin to notice a pattern of hair loss along the hairline that resembles the letters V, M, or U. You may also start to lose some strands on the crown of your head. This is when many people take action and start treating the problem.
During stage four, you lose most of the hair at the crown of your head. Usually, the hair on the sides of the head is still healthy and thick at this stage. Topical hair regrowth products may not work at this point, but you can still receive a hair transplant.
The remaining hair all around your head continues to thin during stage five. The band of hair that separates the crown of your head from your temples is much smaller now.
During this stage, the hair on the crown of your head is either completely gone or extremely sparse. This is what leads to the dreaded “ring” of hair around the head with a bald spot on top. Hair restoration surgery may still be possible, though there is less healthy hair to transplant to the balding areas.
During this final stage on the Norwood scale, you are completely bald up top and have a ring of hair around the back and sides of your head. This ring of hair may also be sparse.
At this point, it is likely too late for hair restoration surgery or any other type of hair regrowth treatment. There is limited donor area to draw from, and the skin of the scalp is typically thin and minimally elastic.
Scar tissue may also negatively impact skin quality and make a successful transplant less likely. Progression to total baldness is common beyond this point.
Whether you choose to start with topical medication or try surgical hair restoration, the sooner you get started, the better.
Waiting too long to address your thinning hair could lead you to the point of no return. Give yourself the best chance of regenerating your beautiful locks by taking hair restoration action today.