Hair Loss Treatments
Many people suffering from hair loss seek out treatments to regrow their hair or preserve the hair they have. Effective and efficient treatment begins with defining the underlying cause. An accurate diagnosis leads to the appropriate treatment choice.
Treatment options vary from homeopathic remedies to surgical procedures of hair transplantation. Sometimes, treating the underlying disease or cessation of some treatments causing hair loss is enough. Although some of the treatments fail to meet the patients’ expectations, some of the hair loss treatments are actually very successful in stopping or reversing hair loss. However, this is highly dependent on the cause and, more importantly, the patient.
Can hair loss really be treated?
In the wide variety of treatment options, you may ask yourself: will any of these treatments really help?
Any successful treatment begins with defining the cause, but the treatment success also differs between the different treatment types. For example, there is a higher chance that hair transplant surgery will give you a better result than shampoo promoting hair growth. Also, if some disease causes hair loss, you will likely reverse the hair loss. By treating the underlying disease, you will treat the symptom – hair loss. Furthermore, if the cause of hair thinning or balding is temporary, the hair loss will also be temporary.
There are many things you should consider when deciding on the treatment. Firstly, you should discuss the options with your doctor. However, you should consider the costs as well. Surgical – hair transplant options, although more successful, are more expensive than non-surgical treatments. Keep in mind that hair transplant procedures are also not covered by NHS, as these are the esthetic procedures.
Furthermore, the surgical techniques evolved over time. Hair transplant surgery has advanced pretty much since its beginnings in the early 1950s. The unnatural “doll’s” or “corn row” hair looks that were associated with hair transplants have evolved into follicular unit procedures we know today, resulting in natural-looking results. Moreover, when the procedure is done well, it is almost undetectable. Besides surgical techniques, many pharmacologic options developed over time. So, suppose you experience hair loss nowadays. In that case, you will have many options to slow or reverse the hair loss process and to regrow the lost hairs, not only on the scalp but also the beard, eyebrows, mustache, eyelashes, or elsewhere on the body. The options can also be adjusted to your expectations.
No treatment is 100% effective, but if chosen carefully and used appropriately, most treatments will give some results, especially the surgical ones.
Pharmacological options are also available for hair loss treatment. However, these are primarily applied to treat hereditary hair loss – male- or female-pattern hair loss.
The most common medications are minidoxil (Rogaine®) and finasteride (Propecia®).
Minidoxil (Rogaine®) is over-the-counter medicine for hair loss treatment. It comes in various forms – as a shampoo, liquid, or foam. Minidoxil is applied to the scalp skin as directed, once or twice daily. If used appropriately, minidoxil may stimulate hair growth, slow the rate of hair loss, or prevent further hair loss. It takes approximately six months of everyday minidoxil treatment to see the results. Sometimes, it takes even longer. However, if you notice that minidoxil is helping, you will need to keep using it on a daily basis. Once you stop applying minidoxil, hair loss will return. Furthermore, it is important to know that minidoxil may help in the early stages of hair loss. Once you lose all the hair, it cannot help.
Finasteride (Propecia®) is a prescription medicine used in male-pattern hair loss treatment. If the therapy with finasteride is applied as directed, it can slow the hair loss and stimulate new hair growth in some individuals. You will need to take finasteride once a day, on a daily basis. As with minidoxil, it may take several – approximately four months, to see the results and is more effective if taken when you first notice the hair loss. Furthermore, if you have more than 60 years of age, finasteride may not work for you.
Other medications are also used to treat hair loss, including spironolactone and oral dutasteride, mostly in female-pattern hair loss. Finasteride may also be prescribed for women experiencing the pattern hair loss, which cannot get pregnant.
Before starting any pharmacological treatment, consult your doctor for the possible side effects. Keep in mind that these medications can be expensive and do not work for everyone.
In most instances, the surgical treatments provide best results. Hair transplantation represents the hair restoration surgery in which the surgeon removes, or harvests hair from one part of the scalp, or body, and transfers it to the bald spot. The most common donor areas are the back and the sides of the scalp, although body-to hair transfer is not unusual anymore. Hair transplantation is performed as a one-day surgery, under local anesthesia.
Several types of the hair transplant procedures exist nowadays and they differ primarily in the harvesting technique. These include follicular unit transplantation (FUT), follicular unit extraction (FUE), and direct hair implantation (DHI). Hair plugs, as an early type of hair transplantation surgery are used rarely nowadays, when the new techniques developed.
Hair transplantation is also mostly used in the treatment of the male- and female-pattern hair loss. However, it can be applied to any other hair loss on the scalp or face, including the crown, beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, or mustache area.
The hair transplantation procedures represent effective and permanent options for hair loss treatment. As the surgical techniques advanced, the surgery provides natural-looking results. Of course, it is best to perform the surgery at earlier stages for better results, but you can undergo hair transplantation as long as you have enough donor hair to cover the bald spots.
These procedures are not covered by insurance, and usually are very expensive.
Other common procedures
Besides pharmacological and surgical treatments for hair loss, there are other possible options. You can even apply some of them at home.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections can be considered in the treatment of hair loss. Studies have shown that these injections are safe and effective in treating hair loss. PRP promotes hair growth as it contains an increased concentration of growth factors. In this process, the doctor injects the plasma into the areas of hair thinning or baldness. PRP administration represents a simple procedure, which needs to be repeated.
Microneedling is also one of the treatment options, as it stimulates hair growth. You can buy a microneedling device without a prescription. This device has hundreds of tiny needles. However, studies have shown that microneedling gives the best results in combination with other treatments, such as PRP or corticosteroid injections.
Some studies have shown improvements in hair density when using laser therapy. You can buy low-level laser devices – caps and combs for at-home treatments. It has shown some benefits in treating hereditary hair loss, alopecia areata, hair loss caused by chemotherapy in both men and women. Laser therapy also requires repeated sessions. However, more studies are needed to evaluate the long-term effects.
Corticosteroid injections are applied into the areas of baldness or hair thinning to help the hair regrowth. Your doctor will give you corticosteroid injections every 4 to 8 weeks. These injections are considered the most effective in treating alopecia areata.
In some cases, hairline reduction surgery can be performed. This surgical procedure can be done to balance the overall face structure proportions. If you have a high hairline, a large forehead, thick hair disproportionate to the hairline height, low or heavy eyebrows or you simply want to increase your hairline or bring it forward, you might be the candidate.
Home- and natural remedies
In addition to the available medical and surgical options, some people opt for home and natural remedies, as they are cheaper, easy to find and use, or are more convenient for them in any way. Of course, increased intake of biotin, zinc, iron, or protein may help, as the deficiencies of these nutrients may cause hair loss. Some patients decide to eat more food containing these nutrients, or take supplements, to increase their hair growth. However, if their levels are normal, taking the supplements will not help – it could even be harmful.
Additionally, several natural remedies are used among people suffering from hair loss. They use jojoba oil, for example, to moisturize the hair follicles and make new, growing hair stronger and healthier. Although some believe that jojoba oil helps hair cells to reproduce faster, this is not proven. Aloe vera is also one of the remedies used to treat hair loss. There is a belief that aloe vera stops hair from falling out. Other natural remedies include garlic, onion juice, licorice root, rosemary oil, coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, safflower oil, eggs, and others.
Unfortunately, none of these options is proven to be effective in hair loss treatment.
Generally speaking, hair loss affects men more often than women. However, hair loss is a universal condition, meaning that it affects persons of both genders, of all ages, races, and nationalities.
Gender considerations and differences regarding hair loss and hair restoration could be manifestly evident. Firstly, hair characteristics are different for men and women. Other differences may not be that apparent. For example, the difference exists between the cultural expectations of hair appearance in women than in men. However, these differences could be addressed adequately when discussing everything thoroughly with your doctor or hair restoration specialist.
Both men and women most commonly lose their hair as they age, as a part of the male- or female-pattern hair loss. Men are more likely to lose hair from the front of the scalp, while women usually experience hair thinning or loss on the top of the head. Moreover, complete baldness is more common in men than women.
When evaluating the severity of hair loss, there are classification systems. They differ as well between men and women. Norwood classification scale is utilized for the hair loss evaluation in men, while the Ludwig classification scale is used to evaluate the hair loss in women.
Due to the different hair loss patterns, the hair restoration techniques and surgeries also differ. Additionally, many pharmacological treatments for male-pattern hair loss affect hormones and therefore are not appropriate for women.
Choosing a hair loss clinic
Choosing the doctor who will treat the hair loss and choosing the clinic where you will be treated is one of the first and most important steps in managing hair loss.
This decision means that you will put your trust and appearance in the hands of some doctor or. So, you probably want to feel confident and at ease in your choices, as this choice can be crucial in determining the end results. Furthermore, inexperienced doctors or unsuitable clinics could do more harm. Therefore, thorough research is recommended. Comparing hair transplant clinics is also advised.
What are the factors to think about? Primarily, you should find a specialized medical doctor, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon, who is experienced in hair loss treatment. It is advised that you perform small research to find the articles, reviews, or any other published information about the doctor. Most of your interaction will be with your doctor, and much of the treatment depends on them. Therefore, you should feel comfortable in their abilities. Of course, choosing a reputable clinic is also important. Research the patients’ reviews for the clinics, seek the recommendations, or visit the clinics you consider.
Last but not least consideration should be the price. If you require hair transplantation, you probably know this is an expensive procedure. Think about all the costs.
The UK or abroad
Many hair loss clinics exist both in the United Kingdom and abroad. Turkey, for example, is known to have numerous clinics for hair transplantation, which offer affordable prices.
However, you should think about more factors than the price only. Even when considering the costs, it is not only about the surgery costs. There are also travel costs, accommodation costs, sick leave, insurance, traveling for follow-ups, and other expenses you will have if you choose the clinic abroad. Undergoing any surgery, including hair transplantation, carries certain risks. Therefore, you would probably want to have your surgeon close anytime.