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How to Stop Hair Loss, by Dr. Shelly Friedman

How to Stop Hair Loss

how-to-stop-hair-lossAndrogenetic hair loss (pattern baldness) affects 40% of all women and 50% of all men. There are a multitude of products sold in salons, pharmacies, on television, radio or websites that promise to regrow your hair no matter how extensive the hair loss. They show amazing before and after photos which are nothing short of miraculous. Unfortunately, unscrupulous companies have found hair loss individuals willing to purchase any product that promises hair growth.

Most of the patients I see for a hair transplant consultation have tried several “bogus” products. These companies continue to operate under the government radar by promoting a money back guarantee. When the product doesn’t work and a demand for a refund is made, individuals discover the “small print” restrictions. My only suggestion regarding non-FDA products is caveat emptor or let the buyer beware.

There are only two FDA approved medications for hair loss: Rogaine (Minoxidil) and Propecia (Finasteride). Rogaine was approved for men by prescription in 1988, and women in 1991. It was the first topical medication to meet the rigorous research and efficacy testing required by the FDA. Rogaine for Men and Rogaine for Women were cleared for over-the-counter sale in February of 1996. Propecia was approved for male pattern hair loss (Androgenetic Alopecia) in men by prescription only in December, 1997. Propecia is the first oral medication approved for hair loss by the FDA. Since 1997 there have been no new approved medications.

Rogaine® (Minoxidil)
Rogaine is used to treat hereditary hair loss. Rogaine used at a 2% concentration for women and a 5% concentration for men is an over-the-counter medication that has research showing it to be effective for restoring hair growth. It may help hair to grow in approximately 20% to 25% of the female population and 80% of males, and in the majority it may slow or stop hair loss. Unfortunately, Rogaine does not regrow a significant amount of hair to alter the perception of thinning or baldness.

Rogaine Foam, Generic Minoxidil Foam, Rogaine for Women
Rogaine® Foam offers the best application method & a generic foam version is now available.

Rogaine is applied topically to the scalp twice daily every day. The checklist below will help you determine if Rogaine is right for you.

  • Members of your immediate family or extended family, male or female, have experienced hair loss.
  • You notice more hair than usual in the shower drain, on your pillow, or in your hairbrush.
  • The skin on your scalp, especially the crown of your head, is more visible.
  • You’ve changed your hairstyle to cover up your hair loss.

If two or more of these statements are true for you, you may be experiencing hereditary hair loss. Rogaine may be right for you. However, there are many conditions, diseases, and hair care practices that can result in excessive hair loss. If you have no family history of hair loss, your hair loss is sudden or patchy, or you do not know the reason for your hair loss, it’s important to talk to your dermatologist. While Rogaine may not be right for you, your doctor may offer other options.

Once Rogaine use is stopped, your hair loss will resume–so using it is a long-term commitment. There isn’t any reliable research showing vitamin intake helps hair loss. Hair-care products advertising miraculous hair-growth results are not telling the truth, and they definitely don’t have any published research proving otherwise.

Propecia® (Finasteride)
Propecia is the only once-a-day pill approved by the FDA for the treatment of certain types of male pattern hair loss in men. Propecia reduces Dihydrotestosterone or DHT, a key cause of hair loss. Propecia blocks 5 alpha reductase, thus stopping the conversion of Testosterone (the good hormone) to Dihydrotestosterone (the bad hormone).

Clinical studies of Propecia demonstrated visible and reproducible results. A 5-year clinical study demonstrated the effectiveness of Propecia.

  • 90% of men who took Propecia showed visible results—either regrowth of hair (48% [134 of 279]) or no further hair loss (42% [117 of 279])—vs 25% [4 of 16] who took a placebo (sugar pill), according to an assessment of photographs by an independent panel of dermatologists.
  • Propecia regrew hair in 3 out of 5 men, as measured by hair count. All of the men in the study who were taking a placebo lost hair.
  • A majority of men who took Propecia were rated as improved by doctors—77% (210 of 271) vs 15% (2 of 13) of men who took a placebo.
  • A majority of men who took Propecia reported that their bald spot became smaller, their hair loss slowed down, and the appearance of their hair improved.

For best results, take Propecia every day for 12 months. You may need to take Propecia daily for 6 months or more before you see any benefits. If you have not seen any improvement in your hair loss within 12 months, further treatment is unlikely to be of benefit. Propecia works over the long term if you continue taking it. If you stop taking Propecia, you will likely lose any hair you have gained or maintained within 12 months of stopping treatment.

Propecia was developed to treat mild to moderate male pattern hair loss on the vertex (top of head) and anterior mid-scalp area (middle front of head) in men. There is no sufficient evidence that Propecia works for receding hairlines or the temples. Propecia is for the treatment of male pattern hair loss in MEN ONLY and should NOT be used by women or children.

Although these two hair growth products may stabilize hair loss, they are often insufficient in satisfying those individuals who are seeking more hair to cover baldness or thinning areas. Hair transplants are the only reliable and permanent solution to regrowing your hair at this time. Don’t waste money or time on ‘guaranteed money back’ bogus products which are heavily advertised on radio or television. Be informed and educated in what works and what doesn’t work.

It is strongly encouraged to talk to a skilled hair surgeon or dermatologist to make sure there is no other possible cause for your hair loss (such as a hormonal imbalance) and to analyze whether or not you are a candidate for other oral medications (such as Finasteride).

If you are balding, or have experienced significant thinning, consider a hair transplant. Although you may think they are pricey, they actually are very reasonable when you think of all the expensive bogus products we try first. Hair transplantation with follicular unit grafting yields outstanding results, and last a lifetime with no telltale traces of visible hair plugs or “stitched” appearance. Hair transplants are the ONLY permanent solution for regrowing your hair.

If you are losing your hair, you would be wise to visit the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery’s website at www.ishrs.org to learn more about hair restoration surgery and to locate hair surgeons in your area. Another good source for locating experienced and skilled hair transplant surgeons in your area is visiting the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery’s website at www.abhrs.com.

Low Level Light Therapy
The use of low level light therapy, whether at home or in our office, can stop hair loss by improving cell structure and blood flow to the scalp. Click here to learn more about laser hair therapy.

See Also:
Intro to Hair Loss
Hair Loss, Self-Image, & Society
Hair Anatomy
How Hair Grows
How Hair is Lost
Hair Loss in Women
Traction Alopecia
Hair Loss in Men
Norwood Hair Loss Chart
Frontal Hair Loss
How to Stop Hair Loss