Restore your hair with nourishing herbs and scalp massages — does this messaging sound familiar in your search for a cure to your thinning hair? Perhaps, you even tried one of these typical hair loss treatments you saw on TV or in beauty salons, and its poor results left you wondering in despair if your hair would ever return to its former glory.
While there’s nothing wrong with getting some TLC for your crown, most hair loss treatment solutions are not scientifically proven; they merely nourish your hair without investigating the root cause of your hair loss, with a slim to none chance of actually stimulating hair growth. Some treatments such as Regenera Activa can even make matters worse by triggering an autoimmune response that causes more rapid hair loss. In a world of false advertising and upselling, it’s easy to fall prey to promises of “value-for-money” and “guaranteed results”.
Previously, my colleague Dr. Lena Fan wrote an article covering the types of medical hair loss treatments available in Singapore and Veritas Medical Aesthetics. In the article, she shared some non-invasive and relatively affordable treatments patients tend to consider first, such as oral medications and laser treatments.
While I don’t disagree with the use of medication, remember that they are just temporary solutions. As someone who has personally struggled with a receding hairline for years since my late 20s, I have experienced firsthand the emotional toll it can take on a person. My advice is this — If you seriously want to combat hair loss without being put on medications for life, or just want to enjoy life without worrying about the potential of being bald, opting for a hair transplant is the only permanent solution to hair loss.
How do I know if I need help for my hair loss? What can I do at home?
Hair loss is known as androgenic alopecia, a medical condition that affects your scalp and/or entire body. It is not the same as the occasional few strands of hair you drop in the shower (50-100 strands per day is normal); patients with androgenic alopecia usually experience more severe hair loss resulting in:
- Gradual thinning of hair at your crown, resulting in a receding hairline
- Circular/patchy bald spots
- Hair that drops easily even with gentle tugging
- Full body hair loss
Alopecia can occur in anyone, but it is more common in men and onsets earlier and more intensely. We usually refer to alopecia in males and females as:
Male pattern baldness
Male-pattern baldness is characterised by a well-defined M-shape, where hair loss starts from the temples and slowly recedes down as the patient gets older. Up to 50% of men experience significant hair loss from male-pattern baldness.
Female pattern baldness
Unlike male-pattern baldness where hair loss occurs all over the head, female-pattern baldness affects only a certain area. The hairline also does not recede as much. Up to 40% of women suffer from female-pattern baldness which usually occurs post-menopause or when a woman is in her 40s to 60s.
Other factors that contribute to hair loss include:
Side effects from medication
These include medication used for chemotherapy, depression, high blood pressure and heart problems.
A diet low in calories and protein can lead to hair loss.
Stress (physically or emotionally) can lead to hair loss that lasts for several months, but this is only temporary.
To effectively treat your hair loss, it is necessary to identify the cause of your hair loss — is it something that can easily be fixed, such as stress or diet? Or is it something that requires medical intervention like genetics (which, by the way, accounts for more than 95% of hair loss in Singaporean males)?
Knowing the cause of your hair loss can also help determine the severity and rate of progression of your hair loss — which will go a long way in choosing the appropriate treatment method.
What are the scientifically proven methods to treat hair loss in Singapore?
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved topical treatment that works by increasing the size of the blood vessels in the scalp, thereby improving blood flow to the area. For long term hair regrowth, Minoxidil should be used continuously.
Taken for male-pattern hair loss, Finasteride is an oral medication that blocks the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase, lowering DHT levels. However, once stopped, hair loss restarts after 6 months.
Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are used to transmit red light to the scalp, which increases collagen synthesis, cell metabolism and blood flow to the scalp. This activates resting hair follicles to enter anagen phase, resulting in increased hair coverage.
CG210 Hair Spray
CG210 is a topical botanical lotion that reduces hair shedding and promotes hair growth. It is usually used in combination with minoxidil lotion and finasteride.
Super-long pulsed laser beams are delivered to the scalp, resulting in more scalp blood vessels. The scalp’s cellular response is increased, and dormant hair follicles are stimulated to transition from telogen phase to anagen phase. I like to start patients on a programme of Fotona HairRestart prior to their hair transplant to prime their scalp for a successful transplant.
PDRN Scalp Infusion
PDRN is a powerful scalp healing treatment that contains anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties to treat hair loss from the inside. It regenerates cells and repairs scalp skin, thus activating growth factor and stem cells. Like Fotona HairRestart, I put patients on PDRN scalp infusion before their hair transplant to strengthen the foundation for healthy thick hair to grow.
A hair transplant is the only permanent solution for male and female pattern hair loss and delivers dramatically better results out of all the options above. It involves harvesting healthy hair follicles from donor sites and implanting the follicles on areas of hair loss.
What are the differences between FUE vs. FUT hair transplant?
There are two types of hair transplant in Singapore: Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
FUE takes individual hair follicles from the back of the head and moves them to another part of the head where hair is thinner or absent. This is done through small incisions. The FUE process is more delicate and time consuming, but there is no linear scar and wound care; hence post-surgery discomfort and downtime is significantly reduced.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
FUT takes a strip of skin with hair follicles from the head and separates them into smaller tissues called hair grafts. These hair grafts are then individually placed into small holes made on balding areas. Unlike FUE, FUT leaves a long horizontal scar across the back of the head and requires more intensive aftercare.
FUE or FUT: Which is better?
Although FUT has the potential to yield more grafts for extensive transplants as compared to FUE, it also leaves a large, nasty scar that may be permanent. Especially for Asian skin that is thicker and more prone to poor wound healing, such a wound may cause complications that can otherwise be avoided with FUE.
What can I expect during the procedure?
Briefly, there are 4 main steps during a FUE hair transplant:
To prepare for the extraction of hair follicles, your donor site is first cleansed with an antiseptic solution and numbed with anaesthesia. Depending on what is appropriate, your donor site can range from the back of your head to your body and underarm. Each hair follicle is extracted individually using a micropunch tool and then preserved in a special solution to prepare for implantation.
2. Hair graft inspection
Every single hair graft goes through an intensive selection process where they are inspected under a microscope. We do this to ensure only the best and highest quality hair grafts are used.
3. Planning and implantation
After choosing the hair grafts, I then personally plan the angle, direction and distribution of the grafts to make the transplant look as natural as possible. Once that is done, we go ahead and implant the extracted hair grafts on the selected areas.
You may experience some swelling at the donor side and across your forehead for a few days post-surgery; it is important you take the greatest care during this period to increase the survivability of your transplant.
What happens after the procedure?
Hair transplant by FUE is an extremely safe procedure in Singapore that is in high demand. When performed well, it should look totally natural. You emerge from the surgery with tiny incisions that quickly heal. The implanted hairs typically fall out first before they regrow, and it may take up to a year for the full, permanent results to take place.t While adverse effects are extremely few and far apart, there are instances where patients experience hair transplant failure in first failing to choose the right clinic, and/or neglecting post-procedure care.
I strongly advise avoiding these activities within the 1st month after the procedure:
- Excessive sun exposure
- Washing your scalp with strong water pressure — use a cup to gently rinse instead
- Scratching your scalp
- Dyeing your hair
- Drinking alcohol and smoking
- Being in unsanitary environments
For my patients at Veritas, I also invite them back to the clinic regularly after the procedure in order to review the progress of their hair transplants and ensure the success of each graft.
How much does a hair transplant cost in Singapore?
In Singapore, a typical FUE hair transplant can cost from $6,000 to $15,000, depending on:
- The condition of your hair loss
- Number of hair grafts needed
- Procedure chosen (manual/ARTAS)
- Area of transplant (Head/Eyebrow/Beard)
At Veritas, FUE hair transplant starts at S$5 per graft.
What is the best age for hair transplant?
Often, patients would delay their hair transplant. Despite being bothered by their thinning hair, they turn to their busy schedules or convince themselves that they are too young to consider such a procedure. “It may all grow back one day”, they look into the mirror and think to themselves with false optimism mingled with paralysing dread, while their hair continues to retreat. I do not encourage that at all.
Remember — the amount and survival rate of your hair grafts play a huge part in the overall success and cost of the treatment. To qualify as a suitable candidate for FUE hair transplant, you need to have enough hair grafts to begin with.
As such, the best age for a hair transplant is before alopecia hits — that’s typically before age 40 or as early as 30 for males and females.
Should I go for a FUE hair transplant?
To me, a hair transplant is a long term investment that carries more rewards than risks. For both myself and my patients, it has made a world of difference to our self-confidence. I urge you to seriously consider it before it’s too late.
Do you have a question for me?
I am more than happy to answer them at email@example.com and +65 6283 3885
- Phillips, T. G., Slomiany, W. P., & Allison, R. (2017). Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatment. American family physician, 96(6), 371–378.
- Wolff, H., Fischer, T. W., & Blume-Peytavi, U. (2016). The Diagnosis and Treatment of Hair and Scalp Diseases. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 113(21), 377–386. https://doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2016.0377
- Rashid R. M. (2014). Follicular unit extraction with the Artas robotic hair transplant system system: an evaluation of FUE yield. Dermatology online journal, 20(4), 22341.