FIRST NOTICING HIS MALE PATTERN BALDNESS MADE THIS PARTICULAR HALLOWEEN THE SCARIEST EVER.
I remember the day and date exactly: Halloween, 1996. I was a senior in college and was dressed up as Dracula for some ridiculous party. When I put the hair cream in to get the appropriate “slicked-backed” look, I noticed something as I swept my hair back. My temples. Well, not really my temples, but above them, I could see scalp that I swore hadn’t been there a year ago. What was this?
I put in my fangs and never gave it a second thought — well, maybe one or two — until I started checking on a regular basis. And, yes, those little recession areas were still there, and, was it my imagination, getting wider?
First, I went through denial, as in, “Well, my hairline has always been like that.” But as graduation day approached, I noticed more hair on my comb, on my pillow, and so forth. OK, I was losing my hair.
Now by this time, minoxidil had already hit the market. So I figured, well, OK, that’s an option. I put it in the back of my head. The idea, not the minoxidil. Then another year had gone by, my hair loss had gotten more visible, and I decided to finally visit a dermatologist.
A diagnosis: Male pattern baldness
He confirmed what I had thought all along, that I had male pattern baldness, not just some anomaly that would go away with a change in diet or shampoo. So I got the minoxidil and became good friends with the eyedropper.
I thought the hair loss might have stopped a little, but I really couldn’t be sure. Keep in mind that at this time I was losing hair only in the front, and I had heard that minoxidil works best in the crown.
Now, it’s generally at this point that most guys who are suffering from male pattern baldness decide to shave it all off or just get a really cropped haircut or wear a baseball cap. But I couldn’t go that route.
See, my deal was this: I was in my early twenties and I was going bald; none of my friends were. The other men at my new job who were my age weren’t losing hair. And I never looked good in hats. Really. You can’t wear one to work, either, so, what was the point?
I didn’t like the shaved look — I think only some guys can pull it off. And getting a crew cut? Although crew cuts were becoming more fashionable, well, you could still see that I was going bald.
The other problem is that I have strong features: a prominent nose, a large jaw and ears that slightly protrude. Hair acted as a frame to my face, such as it was. And I really didn’t look too bad, either. But without hair, my worst features grew more prominent.
So for me, baldness wasn’t an option. I would have hair again, somehow, someway. After the minoxidil, I tried some herbal remedies, with no success. I got a prescription for the oral drug finasteride, but it really didn’t work.
There exist few treatments for male pattern baldness
It was now time to see a transplant doctor. He was first-rate, and transplants today aren’t like they were years ago. None of those ugly “plugs” that made you look like you had corn growing on top of your head. These tiny grafts really can create a hairline, and it looks very good. I was even willing to pay the price, which the doctor estimated at a realistic $10,000-$15,000, but I really wanted to think about it.
I also went to see one of those nonsurgical hair replacement centers. No, no, it’s not a toupee — it doesn’t come off or anything — but still, it wasn’t my own hair. I saw some of the clients from these centers, and it was really incredible. I had no idea that these guys had hair replacement. Still, I wasn’t sold.
See, I just wanted my own hair growing back again. So I waited and waited, and then I realized that I had another problem. Male pattern baldness is progressive. My hair loss was increasing at a pretty good clip, and if I didn’t do something soon, it would be obvious that I was having something done.
I was already getting teased in a good-natured way about my hair loss by my friends. That didn’t bother me as much as when I would run into someone I hadn’t seen in a while and would get the old, “Gee, you look different,” or, “Wow, you used to have so much hair.” Finally, I realized that I had to stop worrying about what other people thought. The only thing that mattered was what I thought.
What I thought was that I had spent a lot of time, and effort, agonizing over my hair loss and that I should do what would make me feel good.
Plus, I was tired. Tired of checking out other men’s scalps to see if they were losing as much hair as me (they weren’t). Tired of scanning a crowd, such as at a ballpark, trying to discern how many men had hair versus how many were balding. Tired — and I hate to admit this — of checking out the girlfriends and wives of bald guys to see how attractive they were, or weren’t.
That was seven years ago. And I’ve never been happier than I am today. After weighing the pros and cons of the surgical and non-surgical routes, I opted for non-surgical.
For me, it was a good choice and the right choice. My hair looks great, I look pretty good, too, and if you saw me, you’d never know that I once had an issue with hair loss.
Would I recommend non-surgical hair replacement, or transplants for that matter, to anyone else? Losing your hair is such a personal issue that I’d feel funny doing so. Baldness either is an option or it’s not. Only you, not anyone else, can tell which it is.