August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month, when an increase in stories about the condition is accompanied by a spike in the number of men and women who use online forums to get answers once they decide to take an active role in preventing their own hair loss.
Online research is often the first step people take when considering any cosmetic procedure. But the Internet can be a source of conflicting information, especially when browsing question-and-answer forums. At my hair transplant practice near San Diego, patients often arrive for consultations with questions about hair loss that they couldn’t find answers for online.
To help patients get the most out of their research, I’ve compiled 4 tips to follow when using online forums:
- Know your vocabulary. In medicine, as in many fields, there is a lot of jargon. Sometimes it can seem like you’re sifting through alphabet soup when reading about hair loss techniques. So here’s a brief glossary of terms you are likely to encounter:
- Follicular unit: A group of hair follicles. Adult human hair typically grows in follicular units consisting of 1 to 4 follicles.
- Follicular unit extraction (FUE): A method of extracting single follicular units at a time.
- Follicular unit transplant (FUT): A hair transplant technique that involves surgically extracting a strip of scalp with hair from the back of the head. This is commonly called the “strip” method.
- NeoGraft®: An automated hair transplant system that uses the follicular unit extraction method.
- Hair grafts: The units used in hair transplants. A micro-graft contains only 1 or 2 hairs per graft. A strip graft contains up to 40 hairs.
- Male pattern baldness: This is the most common reason for hair loss, affecting 2 out of every 3 men.
- Use the best resources. Search for board-certified surgeons who are active on RealSelf, an online forum where patients can ask qualified physicians questions about cosmetic procedures. Browse the answers a doctor provides to various questions. Find surgeons who provide honest answers, even when it may not be the answer a patient necessarily wants to hear.
- Use photo evidence. Find a surgeon who provides a range of before-and-after photos online. When you’re browsing surgeons’ websites, make sure they offer before-and-after photos of real patients. You’ll be able to see for yourself the quality of their work.
- Schedule an in-person consultation. Sound medical advice for any cosmetic procedure requires a physical examination and detailed medical history. Photos alone are a starting point for getting general advice through online forums. There are multiple medical causes for hair loss, which should be evaluated prior to considering hair transplants. Talk in person with a surgeon to find out what may be causing your hair loss and to find the best solution for you.