If you are experiencing hair loss, take hope. There are a number of FDA-approved medications that slow or halt hair loss in both men and women. Medications such as minoxidil (Rogaine®) and finasteride (Propecia®) are proven to slow the hair loss process, and have been prescribed for decades with very few side effects reported. These types of medications should be taken if someone is experiencing male or female pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
Once you begin a regimen of taking Rogaine, you will likely need to take it consistently over the course of your life. If you stop, your hair loss will progress to the point where it would have been had you never taken it in the first place. In other words, a dramatic and sudden loss of hair can result.
Hair loss treatments instead of hair transplant surgery
Perhaps you are not a good candidate for hair transplant surgery. This may be due to:
- Your age (you may be too young)
- Extent of hair loss
- Existing medical or scalp conditions
- Hormonal imbalances
- Personal choice (perhaps you simply don’t want surgery)
In the event that any of the above pertain to you, then the medications (finasteride and minoxidil) or treatments such as low level laser light may be your best option for treating hair loss.
Hair loss treatments in addition to hair transplant surgery
Any patient undergoing hair restoration surgery should either be on medications or at least consider them in combination with surgery. Some patients should not even consider hair transplant surgery if they are unwilling to use medications.
Here’s why: It is important to slow the formation of hair loss between the transplanted hair and the natural receding hairline. It simply needs to be as slow as possible. With medication slowing additional hair loss, a patient will not need follow up surgeries as often. In general, without medications patients may need follow-up hair transplant surgery every 3-5 years. With medications, follow-up hair transplant surgery may be needed only every 8-10 years.
The hair in the donor area is subject to thinning, especially if someone started losing their hair in their 20’s. This is the very hair that we are using to transplant into the bald or thin areas. We want to maintain the quality of the transplanted hair as long as possible, and we achieve this with the supportive use of medications.
In younger patients, with minimal loss, it is very difficult to project future loss. In order to slow the loss process, medications are extremely useful. In this population, if the patient refuses medical treatments it is better not to perform surgery.
If there is a risk of extreme baldness in any patient, this results in a very unfavorable graft supply-to-demand ratio. To stabilize the ratio in a more favorable way, medications are essential.
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