- Men's Health & Wellness
Hair Loss Treatment Options
If you're a man approaching middle age like I am then you might be looking around for hair loss treatments. But men aren't the only ones that suffer from hair loss. Although it's more common in men women can also have problems with hair loss, usually from a medical conditions usually alopecia. Did you know that humans aren't the only ones that suffer from baldness? Some rimates can also lose hair and are used in laboratories to study the effects of hair growth products.
It's easier to prevent the hair that you have from falling out, than replacing hair that you've already lost, so a lot of treatments focus on that aspect. There are different causes of hair loss, some are genetic, some from disease, some are environmental. There are many different treatments, some will work for only certain types of baldness. Some work to prevent hair loss other will replace lost hair or cover up or medically replace hair. Not all treatments can be used for both men and women, some are actually very dangerous for women to use. You can basically break down hair loss treatments into 4 categories, those that stop hair loss, those that grow hair, those that artificially replace hair, and those that surgically replace hair. Some of the treatments have been medically tested an recognized to work in certain cases. Some are used topically (rubbed on the area) some are taken internally (swallow a pill) We'll take a look at all those types so you can see which is for you.
Treatment for Hair Loss
Lets take a look at the artificial hair replacement systems first. The most obvious thing is a wig. Now the word wig or toupee has a certain connotation, but in recent years, the "rug" has been replaced with a system that is almost indistinguishable from real hair. The best wig option is a lace front wig. These wigs have an almost invisible mesh near the hairline (the most obvious wig give away). The hairs are placed onto the mesh in such a way that they mimic the natural growth of hair. These type of wigs are used in movies, many times you've seen bald actors with a natural looking head of hair. They're using a lace front wig more than likely. These wigs will cover the whole head and some of them have a mesh base, so that your real hair can be pulled through to make it look all the more natural. They can be glued on so that you don't have to worry about them coming off when you swim or do sports. Hair Club is an example of one of those types of hair replacement systems, they offer systems for both men and women. Costs of these replacement systems can range from $200 to $1200, and will need to be replaced yearly, with adjustments in between.
Hair Loss Treatment Products
Hair Growth Products.
Let's take a look at two products one topical, one internal. The two clinically tested products that are on the market are Propecia and Rogaine. Rogaine first came to prominence as Minoxidil a heart drug. It was used for people with narrowed blood vessels, it actually expanded blood vessels so that blood could flow more freely. People using the drug noticed that they had hair growing in thicker and some people with hair loss noticed that some hair was regrowing. Some of the side effects are hair growing where you don't want it to, not a huge problem for men, but not so great for women. Rogaine basically has gotten rid of those side effects because you use it topically, instead of taking a pill. Because it increases blood flow in the affected area you hair follicles are kick started. It worked best for people with less than a 4 inch bald spot, and people who had been losing hair for less than 10 years. It can be used for men and as a hair loss treatment for women, it costs about $30 for one month of treatment.
Propecia is a male hair loss treatment but this one is taken internally. It was initially used to treat prostate problems in men. Here's how it worked. When testostorone is metabolized it's converted to a chemical called DHT. DHT works like a signal to shut of hair follicles for men who are genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness. With the DHT reduced the hair follicles don't shut off. The side of effect of no DHT is there's nothing to counteract estrogen, and enlarged breasts and sexual function could be affected. There are also some other drugs for prostate problems that do the same thing that are being tested as a new hair loss treatment, but they haven't been approved for that yet. Propecia is also absolutely not a female hair loss treatment. In fact in the commercials they say pregnant women should not even touch a pill. It's pretty scary stuff and something you should definitely see your doctor about. The costs are $45 to $55 a month.
Medical Hair Restoration
The other alternative is restoring hair medically. Hair is actually transplanted from one place to another on your head. This works in cases of pattern baldness, that is baldness on the crown. The reason is that hair follicles on the sides and back of the head are not genetically programmed to shut off, they keep growing hair. So doctors can take those and transplant them to the top of the head. Of course it spreads the hair around so it's not as thick, but it's real and it grows. Micrografts of one or two follicles are done at the hairline so it looks natural not like a plug. This option is only available if you have certain types of baldness. Costs are $3 per graft on the low end, $8 per graft on the high end, the average $5-6 dollars per graft. Figure on grafting at least 1000 hairs - you can see how it adds up.
There are some other things out there that kind of border on the strange like laser treatment for hair loss. Interestingly enough certain types of laser combs have been approved by the FDA, and have clinical trials published in peer reviewed articles. It's been cleared for marketing as a hair loss device by the FDA, but they haven't made any statements as to whether or not it works. That probably just means that it won't do you any harm, but I'm no doctor, so ask yours first. There are also some herbal hair loss treatments that propose to do what Propecia does. Revivogen is one that is marketed as a DHT inhibitor, but they say it's safe to use for women. Common sense will tell you two things about that: if it does what Propecia does then it isn't safe for women - if it doesn't do what Propecia does, then it won't work. Neither option seems good. And remember things that are natural aren't necessarily safe. Poisonous mushrooms are all natural - but they aren't safe.
I hope this has given you a quick overview to some of the most common treatments for hair loss that are out there. You should always consult your doctor before using any of these, don't just take my word for it. Your doctor might also know more about how well they really work, and if they are right for you.