Hair Loss Evaluation

Written by Dr. Griffin

Dr. Thomas Griffin Diagnoses and Assesses Thinning and Balding in Philadelphia

Hair loss, which is medically referred to as alopecia, often causes stress and frustration for people experiencing the problem. Although a range of elements—such as the aging process, diet, stress levels, and medications—can cause thinning and balding, the strongest contributing factor is genetics. Looking into the patient’s family history on either side can lead to conclusions about the cause of the condition and can thereby greatly assist in the diagnosis of pattern hair loss in both men and women. Physiological conditions, whether hereditary or not, have a direct impact on how the loss develops. For hair loss evaluation in Philadelphia, it is important to tell Dr. Thomas Griffin of all past medical conditions and associated medications, including over-the-counter meds that you have taken.

Since certain illnesses are directly linked to thinning hair, and specific medical treatments can cause hair to shed, it is important for Dr. Griffin to get as complete a picture as possible in order to diagnose the problem and provide the ideal solution to restore a full head of hair, whether a male hair transplant, female hair transplant, or non-surgical solution.

Real Patient Before & After Photos

before and  12 months after procedure - photos of real patient

12 Months
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Hair Loss Evaluation: How Do Genetics Impact Hair Loss?

We know that when genetics cause hair to shed in a predictable pattern, this is what is called male pattern baldness (MPB) or female pattern baldness (FPB). The genes for this condition are inherited from both sides of the family.

Patients who have MPB usually have male family members with similar patterns of hair shedding. This is because high levels of male hormones called androgens not only cause the hairs to become thinner and shorter, but they also reduce hair growth overall.

Unfortunately, the genetic factors that cause balding can’t be reversed. Patients can, however, take steps to delay thinning hair and enhance their hair’s growth potential as much as possible. People who notice early symptoms of balding—such as thinning areas on the front of their head or excess shedding—can consider getting early treatment, as this increases their chances of preserving their hair as long as possible.

Like MPB, FPB is also a hereditary condition. It tends to become more pronounced after menopause, though the role of androgens in this type of hair condition is not yet fully understood.

Physical Examination

Dr. Griffin can diagnose what is causing any thinning by examining the scalp and determining the pattern and degree of loss. There are a few physical examinations used in order to help in the diagnosis. Such tests include:

Scalp and Hair Shaft Exam
It is important to assess the health of the scalp, since scarring, redness, and scaling are signs of particular hair thinning disorders. Any unusual signs or an otherwise unhealthy scalp can help point Dr. Griffin to the cause of balding. The appearance of the hair shaft can also point to possible hair breakage conditions.

Tug Test/Pull Test
In this test, a section of hair is gently “pulled,” and the amount of hair that subsequently comes out as a result is evaluated. If hairs come out easily, the presence of a hair thinning disease is typically validated. The hair that comes out due to this test can be further analyzed more directly under a microscope.

Thyroid Assessment
Thyroid disease is a medical condition that may be associated with alopecia. Low thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause thinning on the scalp, as well as a loss of eyebrows. Hyperthyroidism caused by various diseases may be associated with alopecia areata.

Hair Density
For a more visible interpretation of hair health, Dr. Griffin may use a densitometer to assess changes in hair density. It can also be beneficial to compare the density of the hair on the top of the scalp with hair on the sides and back of the scalp.

Real Patient Before & After Photos

before and  9 months after procedure - photos of real patient

9 Months
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Diagnostic Procedures

Lab tests may be helpful when it comes to understanding the cause of a patient’s baldness. Moreover, Dr. Griffin may advise a scalp biopsy to assess the pathology of a scalp disease in question. The biopsy involves taking a small sample of tissue—roughly 4 mm, about the size of a pencil eraser—and is performed in the office with local anesthesia.

Hair Loss Evaluation Grading Scale

There are several different types of classifications scales used to diagnose the extent of a person’s baldness. The two most referenced grading scales for loss of hair are the “Norwood” scale for men and the “Ludwig” scale for women. These scales allow Dr. Griffin to determine the severity of the thinning and find the best possible treatment during a consultation at the Griffin Hair Restoration Center of Philadelphia. The Ludwig Scale for identifying female pattern baldness consists of three stages, with Type 1 showing the earliest signs of balding and Type 3 being the most severe.

Norwood grading scale - left side view and top view, imagesFig 1. As seen in this image, the Norwood grading scale for men ranges from 1, which shows no sign of balding, to 7, which is the most severe form of balding. In the most dramatic form of pattern baldness, the scalp is nearly completely bald and is lined by hair on the sides and back of the scalp.

Find out more about hair loss evaluations from the Philadelphia-based team at The Griffin Hair Restoration Center of Philadelphia. Call (215) 561-9100 or submit a contact form to request a consultation.