The prospect of going bald can be a nightmare, and so you can figure out what to do about it. How do you know which treatment is right for you or what will work for you? If you have ever worried about the side effects, or wondered if there is a natural solution before jumping to the medication, read this. We sat down with a doctor to get the truth about what to baldness, and if you can ever get back the hair you already lost.
LOW-LEVEL TREATMENT: COMBINES
The lowest level treatment is light. If you’ve done any research on baldness, you’ve probably been subject to advertisements for laser combs like this one. They emit a low intensity beam intended to stimulate the follicles and get them ripped off the hair in the way they are meant to.
Do they work? In some way. The red light has proven to be anti-inflammatory, which takes care of one of the scalp problems that can contribute to hair loss. It also promotes healthy hair growth. But as for turning around baldness in a remarkable way, the results may be limited.
NATURAL TREATMENT: SUPPLEMENTS
Before jumping from combs to medication, there are supplements that can help keep hair healthy.
“There are two brands that have emerged as leaders in nutraceuticals,” says Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “Number one is Nutrafol: it helps provide the building blocks needed for healthy hair growth and the second is Viviscal.”
These supplements combine drug-free ingredients to combat the causes of hair loss, such as inflammation, and strengthen hair with vitamins. Nutrafol aims to block dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the byproduct of testosterone believed to be related to male pattern baldness. Viviscal encourages users to both take supplements and use their cosmetic products for hair and scalp. Finding out if it works for you can take time, and it has not even been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss.
TOPICAL TREATMENT: ROGAINE
The most well-known form approved by the FDA to combat hair loss is Rogaine.
“Rogaine is the gold standard in terms of topical treatments,” says Zeichner. “It’s approved by the FDA to treat thinning at the apex, or at the top of the head, but I recommend my patients wear it on the front hairline, too, where hair is receding.”
The active ingredient in Rogaine, Minoxidil, has been clinically proven to slow hair loss and regenerate some hair, although the American Hair Loss Association warns that long-term results can be disappointing.
A reason? To achieve a perfect treatment, Rogaine should be applied twice a day. No matter how scared hair loss you are, it can be a high order.
“In the real world, it’s very difficult to get someone to apply something twice a day,” says Zeichner. “Do the best you can.”
There is another FDA approved treatment: finasteride, which is sold under the brand Propecia.
This prescription medication for the body to convert testosterone into DHT. Although the exact causes of male pattern baldness are still being studied, lowering levels of DHT has been shown to aid.
“One-third of the patients keep the hair they have,” says Zeichner, “one-third grow back hair, and a third still see thinning hair, although often the loss rate is less than they saw before. Look at that, at least two-thirds of patients see improvement. ”
Unfortunately, if you’ve heard of Propecia, you’ve probably heard of the side effects. And those who talk are sexual.
“The number one risk is erectile dysfunction,” says Zeichner. “For most patients, if this happens, it’s temporary, although there have been a handful of reports of guys who have it after stopping the drug.”
However, Propecia is recommended as the first line of attack of the American Hair Loss Association, which states that it is the first drug in history to effectively treat baldness in most men who take it.
SURGERY: HAIR TRANSPLANTATION
Finally, there is surgery. What we used to call “hair plugs” is now described as “hair transplant”. Gone are the days when the surgery spawned clumps of what looked like wrist hair protruding from the front of the head. Now the hairs move individually from the back of your head to the areas that need them.
“We do not understand why, but men do not lose their hair in the back of the head,” says Zeichner. “In a transplant, those hairs move individually or in small groups to other areas of the scalp to recreate a line of hair that appears naturally.”
Newer techniques can mix hair grafts seamlessly into your natural hair. And, yes, they will grow once they are established.
The bad news: the surgery is painful and costly – think $ 10,000 and more. In addition, it takes time for the transplanted follicles to become active.
So while there is no perfect option, there are proven ways to curb hair loss, and for many men, you can get your hair back. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Or, if getting to medicine is not your style, there is always time to talk to your hairdresser.