Encyclopedia / B / Baldness



Common baldness, sometimes called male- or female-pattern baldness, accounts for 99 percent of hair loss in men and women. Although its exact causes are unknown, heredity, hormones and age are contributing factors. Unlike hair loss resulting from disease or other non-hereditary factors, hair loss due to common baldness is permanent.

Male baldness usually begins with thinning at the hairline, followed by the appearance of a thinned or bald spot on the crown of the head.

Women with common baldness rarely develop bald patches. Instead, they experience a diffuse thinning of their hair.


Hair is a conspicuous element in many cultural definitions of fashion, youth and sexuality. So, it is not surprising that many cringe at the first sign of thinning hair.

Most people lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair daily, with little impact. As hairs fall out naturally, new hairs grow in. So there is no need to despair if you spot a hair or two in your sink. However, with age this natural regrowth process may slow or stop, and thinning and baldness may occur. If you are concerned about it, see your doctor for an evaluation to find out if your hair loss is due to an underlying medical disorder.

Like your skin and nails, your hair goes through a finely tuned cycle of growth and rest. Excessive hair loss can occur at any time this delicate cycle is upset.


Factors such as diet, medications, natural hormones, pregnancy, improper hair care and certain diseases can cause temporary hair loss. Once the underlying cause is pinpointed and eliminated, the hair may grow back. See the Hair Loss report for more detailed causes of temporary hair loss.


There is no cure for common baldness, but surgical hair replacement can give you back a head of your own hair. Available since the 1950s, surgical hair replacement is a low-risk procedure.

Surgeons remove tiny plugs (grafts) of your hair-bearing skin and transplant them into tiny holes made in your scalp. They take these plugs from the band of hair extending from above your ears around the back of your scalp.

During one session, your surgeon may transplant between 60 and 100 hair plugs, each about the diameter of a pencil eraser. Local anesthesia and mild sedation minimize discomfort during surgery.

Hospitalization usually is unnecessary. Within a few days after the operation, tiny scabs form around each hair graft. When the scabs disappear, the donor hairs usually fall out. New hairs generally start to grow within a few months.

If the baldness and thinning is extensive, one should not expect to walk out of the first surgery with a full, natural-looking head of hair. Even after the transplanted hairs begin growing, these widely scattered clumps may look conspicuous. Additional surgeries may be needed to fill the void. It may take a year or two before you will be pleased with your new appearance.

The quest for a new look may cost in the range of $2,000 for each round of surgery. Typically, it takes three or fours sessions to cover a bald area.


Is the baldness caused by a medical disorder rather that the regrowth process stopping?

If baldness runs in the family, will the male family members evidently start going bald?

Will certain kinds of medicine cause hair loss?

Do you recommend hair replacement? Is this procedure successful?

Do you recommend using Rogaine or Propecia?

What are the side effects of using these drugs?