There are many non-surgical hair loss treatments advertised today, and those concerned with any level of hair loss have likely tried at least one of them. When it comes to at-home treatments and procedures, it’s important to understand how each of them works and to determine, with the help of Dr. Thompson, which treatment or combination of treatments will be right for you.
Medications for hair loss can slow the process of thinning and increase coverage of the scalp by mainly by enlarging existing hair to increase volume and hair quality. Medications can be taken with or without hair transplant surgery and other hair loss treatment options depending on the needs and goals of the patient. Dr. Thompson recommends the use of medication for most patients receiving hair transplant surgery to maximize results and prevent further hair loss following surgery.
The two most commonly used and effective medications include Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil). Propecia is significantly more effective than Rogaine in treating hair loss, but greater results can be expected when both products are used together. Studies show when these two medications are used together, over 90% of patients show significant reduction in the rate of hair loss.
Propecia (finasteride) is an FDA-approved prescription medication used to treat hair loss (and prostate enlargement). It prevents hair loss by blocking the production of a male hormone in the scalp called androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes hair follicles to miniaturize (shrink) in individuals susceptible to male pattern baldness resulting in hair thinning and loss.
Propecia works effectively for 90 percent of men who suffer from male pattern baldness. Propecia allows the hair follicles to enlarge and return to their healthy size which in turn allows thicker, stronger hair to grow into the scalp. DHT levels are reduced quickly after starting treatment, but it typically takes approximately three months for the follicles to recover and begin new growth. Propecia is a long-term commitment meaning that in order to maintain results the medication must be taken regularly. Discontinuing the medication will typically result in further hair loss within 3-8 months.
Side effects such as decreased libido and erectile dysfunction have been reported but are uncommon. Clinical trials of men 18-41 indicate that side effects were less than 2% and slightly higher in men older than 41 who often have other conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and peripheral vascular disease. It is important to note that the incidence of erectile dysfunction in the normal adult population is 20-30% in men under 40 and increased about 10% each year. Propecia can also alter one’s PSA level, thus affecting the PSA blood test.
Propecia is not indicated for use in women because there are no studies showing definitive improvement in women taking finasteride. There is also evidence that this medication can cause damage to a developing fetus in women who are or may become pregnant.
Rogaine (minoxidil) is the other FDA-approved drug for hair loss. It helps slow the process of male or female pattern baldness and is a great solution for men and women looking maintain the hair they have. It works by strengthening and thickening existing hair follicles. It doesn’t typically cause regrowth of lost hair, but strengthens and thickens existing hair. If hair growth does occur, it is typically fine, thin regrowth.
Rogaine also requires consistent use to maintain results. When stopped, hair loss can be expected shortly thereafter.
Rogaine can be purchased over-the-counter and is a foam used topically (twice per day) to treat areas where male or female pattern baldness occurs. It comes in two different strengths; regular and extra strength. Extra strength is intended for male pattern baldness only, while the regular strength is recommended for women.
Rogaine is safe, effective, and has been used for a number of years. Side-effects are uncommon but may include itchiness and/or chest pain.
Low Level Laser Therapy
There are many in-office or at-home laser light treatments that can also improve hair quality, slow down hair loss, and stimulate new hair growth to varying degrees. These treatments are essentially a step above hair care products and are often used in combination with other treatments, such as medication and/or hair transplant surgery. As a stand alone hair loss treatment, they are not recommended for patients who have already lost a considerable amount of hair and are interested in hair restoration.
The laser comb emits gentle, red beams of light which make contact with your scalp to stimulate the growth of new hair. The technology was developed in the 1980’s, and in the late 1990’s the device was first approved by the FDA to improve the cosmetic appearance of hair.
For optimal results, the HairMax LaserComb must be used to comb the hair 10 to 15 minutes in one treatment. Treatments are done three days per week on non-consecutive days. It typically takes at least 8 weeks to start seeing improvement in the thickness and quality of your hair. Some patients report an increase in hair volume by as much as 20% with long-term consistent use but this product does not work for everyone.
Capillus272 is also an FDA approved low level laser device designed to energize hair follicles for new, natural hair growth. Under the direction of a hair restoration physician, Capillus may be used as a stand alone treatment option for patients with minimal hair loss or in conjunction with other methods, such as medications, hair care products and hair transplant surgery. It’s important to consult with Dr. Scott Thompson to determine what combination of procedures will be best for you.
If Dr. Thompson recommends Capillus at your personal consultation, our office staff will help get you started. The use of capillus is much easier than the HairMax LaserComb as it can be worn at home or on the go conspicuously placed underneath your favorite hat. There is no manual effort on your end required. It is battery powered for convenient portability and easy to use.
Hair Care Products
Nioxin® offers a number of hair care products for men and women with thinning hair. While no shampoo or hair product on the market can stop hair loss or stimulate new growth, Nioxin products do help keep your scalp in good shape to improve the quality of the hair you currently have. Utilizing quality hair care products in conjunction with more advanced options results in better outcomes. Learn more at www.nioxin.com.
Certain lifestyle changes can help strengthen the quality of your hair such as consuming a protein diet rich in healthy fats to make the hair look thicker and shinier. B vitamins are also very particularly important in aiding hair growth. Great sources include chicken, fish, eggs, pork, and leafy greens, such as spinach.