Shedding is one of the biggest concerns we hear about from people who start treating their hair loss. Shedding may occur when treatment begins with any of the three FDA approved/cleared products, such as the HairMax LaserComb®, Rogaine® (minoxidil) and Propecia®. However, it is important to know that shedding is NOT the same as “losing hair”. Since the concern about this occurrence is ‘real’, we will try to provide some important information on what exactly shedding is, why it occurs, and what it means in the usual course of treatment.
While you may think you are the only one experiencing it, shedding after starting a treatment is fairly common. Many users report increased loss a few weeks after starting the HairMax, Propecia or Rogaine. The amount of shedding is variable and for many people it is not even noticeable. However, for some people it can be to quite disconcerting if they don’t expect it, because now that they have finally decided to treat their hair loss; rather than hair growth, they experience hair loss. Instead of going forward, they feel like they are going backwards since they do not realize that this occurrence is temporary. They sometimes prematurely discontinue treatment without giving the treatment enough time to work. They incorrectly decide they are not “responders” to the treatment, that the treatment doesn’t work, and the product is not for them – but they’re wrong!!
What exactly is Shedding?
Although we do not know exactly why the shedding occurs at the start of treatment, the most likely explanation is that when that follicle gets exposed to a growth stimulant like the laser energy of the HairMax, it is given a very strong signal to enter the anagen phase and increase activity. The follicle must then stop the telogen phase, and start over into the anagen phase. When the laser energy of the HairMax is applied to stimulate hair follicles, the follicles must regress, shed the old hair, rearrange themselves into a more healthy hair follicle, and start making a new, thicker terminal hair. This process inevitably lead to the temporary shed phase you might experience. It’s unfortunate that the first stage of new hair growth sometimes seems like hair LOSS, but that is really shedding and that is the why it a positive sign that your hair is responding to treatment.In Conclusion – Don’t Count HairsIn terms of understanding hair loss, the nature of shed hair and the rate of shedding is not very important, although it may be disturbing to see. Shedding is natural, in that everyone sheds hair daily whether affected by hereditary hair loss or not. You can shed up to 100 scalp hairs a day without having any noticeable scalp hair loss. A few people may shed more than this but still not develop baldness. The problem comes when someone sheds hair at a faster rate than it is replaced and this is where baldness develops. If the hair is being shed faster than it regrows then alopecia will develop. Since you will always shed some hair, the amount of hair shed each day is a poor indicator as to the effectiveness of a hair loss treatment. Rather, to define how a treatment is working, you must judge overall results over time to see if more hair is growing than is lost which takes patience and perseverance to judge final results. Results of treatment takes many months, not days or weeks. Only when you know what to expect when you start treatment and understand that shedding can occur, can you deal with it and resolve to take the time necessary to achieve the results you are looking for.