The first robot designed to help surgeons perform a portion of the hair transplant procedure recently became FDA approved. Called the ARTAS Robotic-Assisted FUE System by Restoration Robotics, it’s an image-guided robot with micron-level precision that harvests up to 1,000 hair grafts per hour – which has made hair transplant surgery even more accurate and efficient.
The follicles on the sides of the scalp are more genetically resistant to DHT, which is why male pattern baldness often results in a “crown” of hair. But its downsides are serious. “With women, finasteride is not an option,” says Dr. Wolfeld. “It’s not FDA-approved for women to take, so we don’t prescribe it.” In fact, due to the drug’s effect on hormone levels, pregnant women are advised to not even touch broken or crushed tablets.
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Men may also experience some sexual and emotional side effects while taking it: In a study published in the June 2011 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Michael Irwig of George Washington University found as many as 92 percent of test subjects reporting problems in the bedroom. The study also reported that “the mean duration of finasteride use was 28 months and the mean duration of persistent sexual side effects was 40 months,” meaning that side effects lingered long after subjects stopped taking the pill.
“I think their effectiveness is not as significant as finasteride or minoxidil,” says Dr. Wolfeld, “however, it’s something that can be used quite easily by patients at home. If they use it two or three times a week, I tell them it can help to thicken their hair.” Results can take up to 18 months to show up, so Dr. Wolfeld stresses that patience is a virtue.
Results from clinical studies of mostly white women ages 18 to 45 years with mild to moderate degrees of hair loss report that after using minoxidil for eight months, 19% of users had moderate regrowth and 40% had minimal regrowth. Of those using a liquid without active minoxidil (a placebo) during the same time period, 7% reported moderate hair regrowth while 33% had minimal regrowth.
Not surprisingly, treatments with 5 percent minoxidil work better than treatments with 2 percent minoxidil. A randomized clinical trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology in 2002 found that, in men with androgenetic alopecia, “5 percent topical minoxidil was clearly superior to 2 percent topical minoxidil and placebo in increasing hair growth.” The difference was actually pretty astounding — after 48 weeks, the men who used 5 percent minoxidil experienced 45 percent more hair growth than the men who used the 2 percent treatment.
Castor oil, as some might already know, is one of the most popular all-natural "panaceas." Go ahead, Google it: What you'll find is article after article about how the viscous oil can help with shedding, breakage, and regrowth. But unlike rosemary oil and vitamin B5, both of which have studies that back up their aid in hair growth, scientific evidence surrounding castor oil is lacking. (Any testimonials about castor oil for hair growth are anecdotal, coming mostly from blogs, Reddit, and YouTube.)
A clinician diagnoses female pattern hair loss by taking a medical history and examining the scalp. She or he will observe the pattern of hair loss, check for signs of inflammation or infection, and possibly order blood tests to investigate other possible causes of hair loss, including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and iron deficiency. Unless there are signs of excess androgen activity (such as menstrual irregularities, acne, and unwanted hair growth), a hormonal evaluation is usually unnecessary.
Some treatments in development hold particular promise for women. Angela Christiano, a hair geneticist and Columbia University professor of dermatology, is hoping to begin clinical trials in a year or two on a procedure in which she dissects hair-follicle stem cells, grows them in the lab until she has several million, then injects them into the scalp, where, a very small study done with a human skin model has shown, they induce new hairs.
The earlier you begin treating hair loss, the more effective the treatment will be. Androgenetic alopecia is a condition that gradually worsens over time, so the general rule is that the earlier you seek treatment, the better. “If you’re losing your hair and you have genetic hair loss, using medication such as Propecia or minoxidil is most effective when started early,” says Dr. Robert M. Bernstein, Dr. Wolfeld’s colleague at Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration. Because not everyone loses hair on the same timeline, you can’t rely on statistics to tell you when you should start treatment. Some men start to notice thinning in their early 20s, while others maintain a thick head of hair well into their 50s. If you suspect that you’re starting to lose your hair and want it to stop, act quickly.
The test involves plucking about 50 hairs from the head, typically at the back of the scalp, so your dermatologist can look at them under a microscope and determine how much of the hair is in the resting, growth, and fall-out phases. Next, a vial of blood is sent to a lab to check hormone and nutrient levels ($100 and up, depending on insurance). If low levels of iron, or high levels of male hormones, like androgens, are contributing to your hair loss, for example, both can be treated through oral supplements or medication.
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Nizoral should be used in conjunction with finasteride and minoxidil. Don’t use it on its own and expect to see immense results. In the “Nizoral studies”, men with MPB who were using Nizoral lost significantly fewer hairs over the months compared to those who weren’t. Don’t expect to regrow hair using it, but rest assured you hair loss progression is slowed down.
Men taking Propecia run the risk of sexual side effects, but most experts say that it only affects a small minority. The risks are greater for women, especially those who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Experts warn that so much as handling the tablets can lead to serious birth defects. Like minoxidil, Propecia use must be continued for as long as results are desired.
"Despite some of the claims, a shampoo or conditioner won’t be able to stop or slow hair loss, nor help with a receding hairline or thicken hair that’s becoming thinner," says trichologist Anabel Kingsley from The Philip Kingsley Trichology Clinic in London. "At best, a thickening shampoo will make hair temporarily thicker for a short period of time, but they certainly won’t help with hair loss or thinning."
Laser devices: Brushes, combs, and other hand-held devices that emit laser light might stimulate hair growth. These devices might make hair look more youthful in some people. Because the FDA classifies these products as medical devices, the products do not undergo the rigorous testing that medicines undergo. The long-term effectiveness and safety for these devices are not known.
Hair loss is part of the natural aging process but can also be genetic or caused by a medical condition. It’s crucial to choose a treatment that won’t dry out your hair, will give it volume, and will keep your scalp healthy. If hair loss is caused by hereditary baldness, the FDA has approved minoxidil (Rogaine) at 5%, which is available over the counter. Other hair loss treatments for women contain natural ingredients like tea tree oil and flower extracts. Some products need to be used daily, but others can be used less often. Some take weeks to show results while others help hair growth within days. Some hair loss treatments are more suitable for certain types of hair (dry, oily, combination, or colored).
If you’re a gentleman who’s been noticing a receding hairline or is worried about balding, the first step is to schedule a visit with a doctor or dermatologist and make sure your hair loss isn’t a sign of a more serious health issue. “Not all hair loss is male-pattern hair loss,” explains Dr. Marc Glashofer, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss and practicing in northern New Jersey. A thyroid disorder, an autoimmune disease, or even a scalp issue could be making you look like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2. But most hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness, and fortunately (or not, depending on your perspective), it’s just a symptom of getting older.
Propecia's 1 mg dose of finasteride can effectively lower DHT levels in the scalp by as much as 60% when taken daily. It is DHT that shrinks or miniaturizes the hair follicle, which eventually leads to baldness. This 60% reduction in DHT has proven to stop the progression of hair loss in 86% of men taking the drug during clinical trials. 65% of trial participants had what was considered a substantial increase of hair growth.
Thanks for your response and awesome article! Do you recommend sticking with minoxidil for a period of time (i.e. 6 months) before starting finasteride or do it all at once? I would be on finasteride now if I wasn’t nervous about the potential side effects so my plan was to wait to see if minoxidal does anything for me over the next 3 months or so (at that point I will have been on it ~ 6 months). My shedding has certainly reduced so hopefully it is starting to work. I’m in the very early stages of hair loss. No one would notice (except me and my wife). Just looks my hair part on the top of my head even though it really is thinning.