Finasteride (Propecia), an oral medication for hair loss available by prescription only, has been introduced to the market in the past decade. Finasteride is approved only for use by men. Through scientific studies, it has been shown to regrow hair in some men and stop hair loss in an even higher percentage. Propecia works by decreasing the formation of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a hormone responsible in large for male pattern baldness while not reducing testosterone, the overall male hormone responsible for masculinity. Therefore, any side effects that may involve male sexual function are mild and occur in less than 2% of all patients. Finasteride has been available for over 10 years and has been shown to be somewhat safe and effective.
Finasteride (Propecia) works best for early and moderate hair loss, but it may also help patients with more advanced balding to preserve their remaining hair, and its use is suggested by hair restoration surgeons as an effective medication to slow down or reverse male pattern baldness in many men. It is often used as a complimentary treatment for hair transplant patients.
Topical minoxidil (Rogaine) has been around for over 15 years and is helpful in slowing down hair loss, but less effective in helping new hair to grow. A higher concentration (5% solution) of minoxidil is now available for men and has been shown to be more effective than the 2% solution. 5% minoxidil solution is generally not recommended for use by women because it may stimulate the growth of facial hair, and also because at least one study suggests that it is not more effective than the 2% in females.
Both finasteride and minoxidil must be used on a continual basis in order to sustain results, and if discontinued, the process of balding resumes. These hair loss treatments may not work for everyone, but they have a proven track record that shows some benefit to many people. In addition, combination treatment with minoxidil solution and finasteride may provide added benefit for men with androgenetic alopecia.
Laser treatments for hair loss are also available. It has been claimed that low level laser therapy increases the quality and health of growing hair. It increases blood lymph and circulation to the hair follicles, decreases inflammation and energizes the follicular cells, allowing the hair to grow thicker and fuller. They come in forms of either laser combs or oscillating hoods. It must be used up to three times a week, each time 20 minutes for about 6-12 months to see the results. They are more effective if used in conjunction with minoxidil or Propecia and are considered to be safe. However, the long term effectiveness and its safety need to be further investigated before the device is substantiated.
It is important to research these products thoroughly before using them. There are many undocumented “miracle cures” that have circulated the market since the 19th century. You can either blindly accept the claims these products make and purchase them or you can approach them with some skepticism to discern the products reliability. It is always good to look for documented proof on products such as FDA approval to discern whether the product has in fact stimulated hair growth in a majority of persons using it in a safe manner with minimal side effects.
Dr. Michael Meshkin
Technorati Tags: hair loss, Finasteride, regrow hair, stop hair loss, Propecia, DHT, dihydrotestosterone, balding, hair restoration, male pattern baldness, hair transplant, minoxidil, hair loss treatments, androgenetic alopecia, low level laser therapy, growing hair, laser combs, FDA, hair growth, side effects, Bill Seemiller