CHENNAI : About two years ago, 24-year-old Kaarthik*, found himself at the doorstep of an Ayurveda clinic after he noticed a significant amount of hair loss. “Initially, I was diagnosed with hair loss due to dandruff and dust pollution. I was able to regenerate it with Ayurveda treatment. My hair was healthy and strong, but it didn’t last for long. I started experiencing hair fall again, and this time the doctor pointed out that it could be genes. In this case, hair fall is inevitable…I can only delay the process but I’ll have to face it one day,” he says worriedly.
Recent studies, including the ones by International Society for Hair Restoration Surgeons (ISHRS) and data from the Association of Hair Restoration Surgeons of India (AHRS India), have found that millennials, especially men, are rapidly losing hair than ever before and inching towards baldness. “The demand for both surgical and non-surgical procedures for hair replacement and transplant have strikingly shot up in the last decade. Most people who come forward with queries are men who are between 20-30 years. On an average, eight out of 10 patients are men,” says Kannan Prema, a plastic surgeon at Apollo Cosmetic Clinic.
Dr Gowthaman Krishnamoorthy from Shree Varma Ayurveda hospital concurs. “In recent years, we are seeing people as young as 18 coming to us for therapies for hair fall, dandruff, premature greying, hair thinning and frontal hair loss. It is alarming,” he shares. According to a 2011 Demographic study on Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) in India, about 46 per cent men between ages 21 and 31 suffered from MPB. “The younger generation has become more conscious about their looks. In most cases, alopecia (hair fall) occurs due to hormonal changes, genes, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, and stress. But, stress is the number one reason.
With millennials working for longer hours without proper nutrition, receding hairlines seem inevitable,” she says. Other reasons include hypo thyroiditis, vitamin D3 and vitamin B12 deficiency, reduced testosterone level (in men), allergic hair loss with IgE, IgA, IgG, alcohol, smoking and drug abuse. Hair fall and premature balding seem to have become a vicious cycle. “One generation suffers from it; it soon becomes a genetic factor.
For instance, about ten years ago, if a man started balding at the age of 40, now, his son starts balding at 20-25,” she explains. Raj Sajan who has been living his worst nightmare for the last two years concurs that genetic reasons could account for a quarter of baldness. “Hair fall might seem like a modern concern. Some may even think of it as a trivial issue…but, its impact on mental health is quite huge. Our generation thought that balding was something that comes with aging and that we would step into our late 50s with a nice voluminous crown before losing it to age.
But who knew we would have to face it so early in life. My grandfather started losing hair when he was 60, my father in his 40s and now, I am losing it in my prime 20s. I have been extremely stressed about it…I am worried it will take my youth out of my life! I am planning to get a hair replacement surgery done this year,” he says. It’s normal for someone to shed between 50 and 100 hairs every day but, if you end up with a fistful of hair every time you comb your hair (or not) heading to a dermatologist immediately would be the best thing to do. “There are so many people who come in to discuss hair restoration surgeries.
But, only a few are eligible. One needs to have at least 50 per cent of hair for us to go with a replantation, and hormones also need to be stabilised. If they are not eligible for hair replacement procedure, we look at other option like UV light, infrared light, and other special massages. Alternatively, hair weaving is also done…this is a very big industry,” explains Kannan Prema.
The evaluation is first done by a dermatologist to find the pathological cause for hair fall. “Once this is done, the patient is sent to us. Every procedure varies from person to person. Post-therapy/surgery procedure there are follow-ups too,” she says. While the demand for affordable hair replacement procedures is on a rise, the average cost of surgical procedures start at `75,000 and goes upto `1,50,000. Non-surgical procedures cost range from `50,000 to `1,00,000. “The overall transplant success rate is about 65 to 85 per cent,” shares Prema.