Healthy hair growth begins in the follicles, which are living sacs of skin tissue in the surface of your scalp out of which hair starts to grow in groupings of 1 to 4 hairs. For 2-8 years at a time, your follicles are working continuously, growing hair and pushing it up and through your scalp at a growth rate of about a half-inch per month. Eventually, each follicle enters a resting stage and its hair stops growing. Finally, the hair is shed from the follicle, allowing a new one to spring up in its place and start the cycle all over again.
Like the rest of the body, hair is made of cells. New cells form at the root and the hair is gradually pushed further and further out of the follicle. Cells at the base of each hair are close to the blood capillaries and are still living. As they get pushed further away from the base of the follicle, they no longer have any nourishment. As a result, they die and are transformed into a hard protein called keratin, the same material that makes up your fingernails and toenails.
In short, each hair we see above the skin is basically dead protein. It is the follicle, which lies in the skin that is the essential living and growing part of the hair.
At any given time, 85% to 90% of your hair is in the first of these phases, actively growing. The remaining 10% to 15% is transitioning or resting in the other two phases. If a follicle is destroyed for any reason, no new hair will grow from it. A normal, healthy head of hair has approximately 100,000 hairs growing.
More specifically, baldness occurs when testosterone combines with an enzyme known as Alpha reductase, which transforms testosterone to DHT. DHT attacks and shrinks the papilla and in time the hair suffocates and the anagen phase of the lifecycle gradually becomes shorter and shorter. Eventually these follicles stop producing hair altogether.
Hair transplantation surgery works by placing healthy follicles that are more resistant to DHT from the back and sides of the head into thinning or balding areas. Nourished by the scalp’s rich system of capillaries, the follicles take root and re-start the hair cycle, beginning with the telogen phase.
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