David Beckham, Jake Gyllenhaal, Orlando Bloom and Jared Leto have all played iconic roles in putting the dude-bun back on the cool-hunk look trend. The style is not only a quick and practical solution for the longer-haired set, it has also become a coveted and buzzed about panache on the red carpet; thank you Leto.
One coal and ice requirement to sport this desiderate look is a full set of hair with cascading locks. Male pattern androgenetic alopecia can throw a real monkey wrench into the budding hair-bun plans dreamt by any beau suffering from this hormonal hair tribulation. Follicularly challenged folks with thinned out crowns, I want your attention specifically today. We can part ways here and leave the cool hair-do out of our discussion and focus on what’s going on under the hormone ravaged pates of the hair challenged and what latest options modern medicine is promising to make dude-buns a free choice.
Many men who experience hair loss may feel emasculated by the thinning, but truth be told they are too sexy for their own hair. The pathogenesis behind androgenic alopecia is in fact, an overproduction of testosterone converters and an underproduction of estrogen converters.
Skin cells, brain cells, and yes hair, all have natural growth cycles. They grow, die and are frequently replaced by newer models. But in the case of the 80% of men who develop male pattern baldness at some point in their lives, the hair follicles just stop re-growing.
Androgenic alopecia does not cause the whole scalp full of hair to fall out at once, but rather causes hair follicles to shrink to near microscopic size after each shedding cycle. This happens under the influence of male hormone (testosterone) leading to the progressive shortening of the anagen phase, causing each hair follicle to become thinner and smaller during each cycle until no re-growth.
Women can also experience androgen alopecia; however, their thinning is typically well distributed throughout the scalp and they very rarely reach complete baldness.
Reversing Your Loss:
Currently the approved treatments of male pattern baldness are a lotion containing Minoxidil and a pill containing Finasteride. PRP, low level lasers and FU hair grafting are some of the other choices listed on get-your-hair-back treatment menu. But glabrous tellurians are still yearning for something more, a game changer perhaps to halt their hair affliction in its tracks and perhaps a miraculous way to repopulate a bald mane.
Hair Raising Research:
Research done at the University of Pennsylvania by Dr. Luis Garza, currently assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins, showed that during the natural cycle of hair growth, levels of a molecule called Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) increase around a hair follicle just before it gives up the ghost. This suggests that PGD2 naturally inhibits hair growth.
When those scientists turned their sights on bald men’s noggins, they found men with male pattern baldness had higher levels of PGD2 than their hirsute brethren and realized that the molecule, when told by bum genetics to overproduce, was most likely the cause of men’s receding hairlines.
To test their theory, the scientists isolated hair follicles from face and brow-lift tissue obtained from plastic surgeons and hit them with PGD2. The more PGD2 the follicles received, the balder the skin got. Luckily, these scientists were successful in identifing a receptor that triggers the molecule’s destructive habits. Now all the scientists would have to do is use this receptor to create a treatment that will allow men in the early stages of baldness to hold on to their proud manes.
A handful of treatments focusing on the receptor are already in clinical trials, like the drug Ramatroban. PGD2, seems to be a very busy nuisance in general, not only is it the enemy of hair, it causes the bronchial contractions experienced by asthmatics too. So chemists are now at work trying to figure out a way to turn oral and inhalable drugs into topical ones.
So, how long before bald men see some relief? Unfortunately, there’s no timetable. They have to figure out dosage and safety before clinical trials even begin — and those could take years.
Conjuring Mullets From the Backs of Mutant Mice:
Does anyone remember the episode of South Park from 2008 called "Eek, a Penis!" in which Mrs. Garrison, having had her gender reassigned, decides she doesn't want to be a woman after all, so a new penis is grown for her on the back of a mouse. Most people thought the whole premise of that episode was something the show's writers dreamt up. Apparently, they were wrong. It seems scientists really are growing human parts on the backs of mice. And in this case at hand, we have a mullet grown from human skin implanted on the back of the mice.
A joint team of scientists, from the University of Durham in the U.K and Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, took on the quest of growing new hair from scratch. Using cells from the base of a hair follicle, the scientists were able to create new hair follicles in human skin, essentially curing baldness. Hopefully in few years time we will be looking at this mullet on the mouse back as one small step for man, but one giant leap for the balding mankind. The success story was published in the September 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
With the success of this trials hope for a cure for baldness has been established, but it is still too soon for men to be tossing out their Rogaine, or planning Leto inspired hair-bun parties. On that note let’s just sit back and imagine how some of our fav celebs would look in their top-buns ;)