Hair restoration surgery might be the most effective and permanent way to treat male or female pattern baldness. But surgery isn’t for everyone. You might have a medical condition that prevents you from undergoing an elective procedure. Or, you might not want to have to go under the knife unless it’s absolutely necessary. For some patients, budget considerations or the time it takes to recover from the surgery stands in the way of them getting a hair transplant.
Just because surgery isn’t the right choice for you right now, that doesn’t mean you have to live with your hair loss or resign yourself to a lifetime of toupee wearing. A number of non-surgical treatments are available. They might not be as effective or as a long-lasting as surgery, but they can work for the time being.
Two medications are available on the market that effectively treat hair loss. Interestingly enough, the initial purpose of each medication wasn’t to treat hair loss. Minoxidil, more commonly known by the brand name Rogaine, was first marketed as a medicine to treat hypertension. Finasteride, known by the brand name Propecia, was originally meant to treat enlarged prostate glands. Both have demonstrated the ability to treat hair loss in men. Minoxidil can also help women with hair loss.
Finasteride is a prescription medicine that is taken orally, once a day. The drug works by blocking the enzyme type II 5-alpha-reductase, which is responsible for turning testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the androgen responsible for male pattern baldness. In clinical trials, the medicine stopped hair loss in 86 percent of men. 65 percent experienced an increase in hair growth, too.
Minoxidil might not be as effective at treating hair loss as finasteride. But, it is approved for use by both men and women. It can be an effective option for patients who didn’t respond to finasteride.
The medicine is applied topically to the scalp, twice daily. It’s available in two concentrations, 2 percent or 5 percent. It doesn’t help hair loss in all patients and is often recommended for people who are younger and who are just starting to lose their hair. To maintain the results from Minoxidil, you need to keep using the medicine, twice a day, every day.
Platelet Rich Plasma
Another potential hair-loss treatment involves the use of the patient’s own blood, specifically the platelets found in the blood. A small amount of blood is taken from a patient, then spun in a centrifuge. The speed of a centrifuge separates growth factors and platelets from the blood. Once isolated, these can be used to help restore hair related to male or female pattern baldness.
The growth factors are thought to improve the health and stability of the hair follicles and to increase hair growth. Platelet rich plasma is still in the early stages, but it is expected to be an effective treatment when used on its own and when used along with a hair transplant.
You might think of laser treatment as something that removes hair. But in certain cases, laser light therapy can be an effective way to improve hair growth. There are different forms of laser hair loss treatments available, from in-office helmets to combs meant for use at home.
The laser treatment works by stimulating blood flow in the scalp. It’s important to note that the laser itself is a cool laser, so it doesn’t burn the scalp or cause discomfort. During treatment, the light stimulates the mitochondria in the cells on the scalp. The cells metabolize more quickly and increase blood flow to the scalp.
Studies of laser light therapy have shown it to be effective. For example, the Revage 670 Laser, an in-office treatment, was shown to stop hair loss in 85 percent of patients. 40 percent of patients had thicker hair after 16 weeks.
Depending on the type of therapy a patient chooses, treatment can take about 48 weeks. Treatments with the Revage 670 laser are performed in three stages. During stage 1, the patient is seen twice a week for 12 weeks, with each session lasting 40 minutes. During the second stage, treatments are once a week, for 12 weeks. In the last stage, treatments are every other week for 24 weeks.
Hair transplants might still be the gold standard treatment when it comes to hair loss in both men and women. But, other treatment options means that people who can’t or don’t want surgery have the chance to have a thicker, fuller head of a hair without needing to resort to a wig.
To learn more about your hair loss treatment options, contact Dr. Jeffrey Epstein at the Foundation for Hair Restoration in New York City or Miami. Dr. Epstein can recommend the most appropriate treatment for you based on the extent of your hair loss, the type of hair loss and your particular needs. Call (305) 666-1774 for an appointment at the Miami office or (212) 759-3484 to schedule an appointment at the New York office.