Prior to Your Visit
Prior to your first consultation with an alopecia specialist at MGH, you will be asked to complete a patient intake form (available on Patient Gateway) regarding the history of your hair loss. It is very important that this form is completed thoughtfully and completely since this information is central to helping your dermatologist understand your hair loss condition. This intake form should be mailed or emailed to you prior to your appointment. If you do not receive this packet prior to your appointment please call us at 617-726-2914.
Preparing for Your Visit
- Ensure your hair is washed, dry and free of product.
- Wash your hair the night before your appointment. Do not wash your hair the day of the appointment as this can affect some of the tests that are performed in the office.
- Bring all reports that you have, if any, of blood work and/or scalp biopsy results done in the recent past.
- Have a list of your current medications and approximate start dates (month and year suffice).
- Have a list of the hair loss treatments you have tried and for how long.
During Your Visit
The dermatologist will review your completed intake form; any recent lab results (blood work), and/or biopsy results that you may have; a list of your recent medications; and any hair loss treatments that you have tried. Additionally, the dermatologist will ask follow up questions during your visit.
The dermatologist will then examine your scalp and hair, and may perform tests, including a hair pull test, in which a handful of hair is grasped and gently pulled to evaluate for over-shedding. If needed, further blood work or a scalp biopsy might be recommended.
Photographs will be taken and uploaded directly into your medical record for comparison purposes. Baseline photographs are taken for your medical record. These are an important part of the periodic evaluation process as they provide an objective way of measuring your progress.
Your dermatologist will review the diagnosis and cause for the hair loss condition with you and provide recommendations for the best-individualized treatment, and answer any questions you may have.
Based on the patient's history and overall condition, a personalized treatment plan is recommended based on:
- Manifestations of disease in hair or nails
- Results of skin biopsy and blood analysis
- The patient's overall health and lifestyle
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- Why Is My Hair Falling Out?
- How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
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- The Emotional Toll of Hair Loss That No One Talks About
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take for me to see results?
Hair growth TAKES TIME. First, it takes time to stimulate follicles to regrow hair. Then, once the hair starts to grow, it grows at a rate of about 1 centimeter a month. Changes to hair are gradual. It is like watching grass grow. Looking in the mirror every day patients often do not notice the slow, but consistent improvement. Be consistent about treatment for at least a year. You cannot expect any treatment to show improvement in a month or two. Being able to really tell if a treatment is making a noticeable difference takes time. Hair is very different this way than other condition.
If I am started on treatment for my hair loss, how long do I have to be on it?
Any treatment that you start for a hair loss condition often needs to be continued long term. Any hair that you have not shed and held onto as a result of treatment and any hair grown as a result of treatment will be lost if treatment is stopped. This is important when considering the best treatment regimen, and is why in some patients one or two treatments are recommended over diving in and doing every possible treatment all at once. If you start a number of treatments all at once, you won’t know if just one or two treatments might have helped just as much, and then you’re stuck doing all of them long term.
Is it safe to color my hair?
TLC or tender loving care is something that all hair needs. Perming, coloring, heat styling can all damage hair and make it more difficult to obtain the results that you want. For more tips on how to care for your hair, please visit the American Academy of Dermatology’s tips for healthy hair.
There are many products that promise to grow hair and reverse hair loss. Should I try them?
Many products do not have the scientific research to back up their claims. Before spending lots of money on a treatment that is not known to be effective, ask your dermatologist.