To say that every person is a unique individual is somewhat trite, but it is a trite saying that is also true. We inherit genes from our parents that shape our physical selves and we live in social and cultural environments that influence the way we think and act. Yet, no matter how similar (or different) we may be in genetic and socio-cultural heritage, each of us is a one-time-only human being with a deeply-sensed feeling of individuality.
One of the consequences of our individuality is the way we see ourselves-our self-image, how we perceive ourselves and how we hope and strive to be perceived by other people. The "me" that I imagine myself to be, that I see in the mirror, and that I hope to present to others is greatly influenced by cosmetic features of my face and head. I style scalp hair to enhance my self-image and the "me" I present to others.
Hair loss can significantly disturb my self-image and make me be concerned about how I am perceived by others. Concern about hair loss may lead to a decision to consult a hair restoration specialist about medical or surgical hair restoration. Consultation with a hair restoration specialist may have been preceded by a self-help approach using an over-the-counter hair restoration medication.
When the "me" I perceive myself to be sits down with a hair restoration specialist to discuss hair loss and hair restoration, both of us should be aware that the basic issue is not hair loss but rather the consequences of hair loss to my self-image. What I want hair restoration to accomplish is restoration of a self-image that satisfies me and that I believe will present a satisfactory "me" to others.
What do I want the physician hair restoration specialist to accomplish? To arrive at that understanding with the physician, it is helpful if I can put into words what I perceive to be the negative effects of hair loss. This perception varies from person to person and is rarely just a concern about a bald spot or a receding hairline. It is most likely that a number of perceived negative effects are organized around a major concern about self-image-for example, loss of attractiveness, looking older than my years, embarrassment about "going bald", loss of self-confidence.
When the hair restoration specialist understands my over-arching concerns about hair loss, the next step is to determine (1) what I hope hair restoration to accomplish, (2) what is the best approach to realizing my goals, and (3) reach agreement on the most effective approach to hair restoration, the likely outcome of hair restoration, the amount of time I will have to commit to the procedure, and the cost.
Similarly to helping my doctor understand how I believe hair loss affects my self-image, I need to work with the doctor to be sure we both understand what I mean when I use broadly descriptive terms such as "full head of hair", "natural look", "too thin", "younger look", etc. Such terms may be very meaningful to me in terms of self-image, but they are not helpful to a hair restoration specialist who must plan hair restoration to meet specific aesthetic goals such as hairline placement and hair density. Reaching common semantic understanding-getting on the same page, so to speak-can also be important if we have to agree on some compromises. For example, if I insist on a "full head of hair", and the physician knows that I have an inadequate supply of donor hair to achieve that goal, we will need to work out an acceptable compromise that addresses my aesthetic concerns and is technically feasible.
It is helpful to remember that my concern regarding hair loss is really a concern about self-image. My concern about hair restoration is that my expectation for restoring self-image will be met. The physician`s concern is to understand my worries about hair loss and expectations for restoring self-image, and to successfully address them with the science and art of hair restoration.
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