Progressive Hair Loss Caused by Genes, Not Stress: Dr. Robert Leonard

Progressive Hair Loss Caused by Genes, Not Stress: Dr. Robert Leonard

Dr. Robert Leonard, chief surgeon and founder of Leonard Hair Transplant Associates, is in news again - this time for questioning the results of a recent study that states that stress caused by divorce or death of husband can induce hair loss in married women.

Dr. Leonard argues, the study, which focused only about 200 people, is better described as an "observational study rather than a true medical, double-blinded study, and while it is interesting, it is not at all conclusive.”

The study conducted by Dr. Bahman Guyuron, a plastic surgeon at Case Western Reserve University, studied 66 male and 84 female identical twin pairs. The preliminary study concluded that baldness in men is most likely due to genetic reasons, but in women, hair loss appears to be linked much more strongly to lifestyle factors like stress caused due to divorce or the death of a spouse.

The study also attributes other lifestyle factors like excessive sleeping patterns, having multiple children and smoking for hair loss in women. The study goes on to say it found women who protected their head from excessive sunlight by wearing a hat faced a lower overall risk of hair loss.

Dr. Leonard counters the findings of the study saying genetics and not stress is responsible for most long-term progressive hair loss. "The myth that stress can cause hair loss has existed for a long time, and while it is often perpetuated by medically trained doctors, it remains simply untrue,” Dr. Leonard said.

However, reactive hair loss (telogen effluvium) is self limiting and may be caused by stress inducing factors such as pregnancy, exposure to general anesthesia, and major trauma. This, according to Leonard, is not the progressive hair loss that is observed in the vast majority of men and women suffering from hair thinning and baldness.

According to Dr. Leonard, most people fail to realize they are suffering from clinical hair loss until they lose 50 percent of their hair. In most cases, people misconstrue that hair loss is stress induced. This is because people encounter one or other forms of stress in their life and they associate the trauma with causing their thinning hair, but the reality is that their hair had started thinning years before.

Continued Dr. Leonard, "50 million men and 30 million women suffer from clinical hair loss. That’s a large segment of the general population, and it’s no surprise that some of those people may have had a divorce, smoke, or spend time in the sun. Still, it’s not the major cause of their hair loss.”

Dr. Leonard says there are multiple treatments for people suffering from male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss. Most beneficial are non-surgical medical therapies such as Rogaine or Propecia, low level laser theory, or hair transplantation. He recommends patients should consult with a specialist who is an American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS) certified physician.

Dr. Leonard is licensed to perform hair transplant procedures for men and women. He is the Hair Loss Expert for Johnson & Johnson, makers of Rogaine, and is board certified and licensed to practice medicine in several states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida.

In July, Dr. Leonard launched a newly reformulated line of hair care products including shampoo, conditioner and hair spray to help maintain and restore healthy hair. Each product has been reinforced with a unique new blend of herbal extracts and copper/peptides that will revitalize hair in men and women. Copper/peptides are found to help stop the negative effects of hair loss as well as increase the size of hair follicles, leading to thicker, fuller and healthier hair.


Hair Loss Treatments Related Articles

Read All Hair Loss Treatment Articles


Find a Hair Surgeon


TOP Hair Care Apps