Medical Treatment for Hair Loss

What If You’re Not Ready For Surgical Hair Restoration?


Men and Women who begin to lose hair in their teen-age years or very early twenties finds themselves developing a “middle-age look”, twenty years too early. The change in appearance can be a cause of great concern, emotional distress, and even depression or anxiety disorders. The “youth appearance ” that a young person presents to friends, colleagues, business contacts and potential sexual partners can make or break success in the social and business world.

Hair transplantation may not be the appropriate first step for younger patients with early hair loss. What is current practice standards is a delayed approach to hair transplantation with medical stabilization as the initial therapy. Medical stabilization with DHT inhibitors such as Finasteride, Minoxidil, regenerative procedures, or laser systems provide greater hair density. Once the hair loss stabilized or an increase hair density with medical stabilization is realized, then hair transplant surgery can be done.

What issues affect the decision for early hair transplantation?

Patients with a strong family history of hair loss-are at an early age are at high risk for experiencing moderate to severe hair loss in their lifetime. Hair transplantation at an early age may have a negative effects of depleting the supply of donor hair, i.e., the hair at the back of the head that is used for transplantation grafts. Younger patients who undertake hair transplantation may have progressive miniaturization and hair loss over decades.

Hair loss that begins at an early age is not always predictive of how much hair will eventually be lost over decades, or the eventual Norwood pattern of hair loss. Hair transplantation started too early may eventually negate the long-term cosmetic benefit of hair transplantation. Hair transplantation before meaningful appreciation of how much donor demand and donor supply is available typically causes an unnatural appearance decades later. In transplanting hair in unstable balding regions of the scalp one can observe the presence of unnatural “islands” of hair follicles in the middle of balding scalp.

What Can You Do If You’re Not Ready For Hair Transplantation?

Young patients concerned about early hair loss will usually be offered alternative options for cosmetic improvement. Dr. Williams will advise our patients regarding the best options for retaining cosmetic appearance while awaiting hair transplantation.

Medical Treatments for Hair Loss

Hair loss may be slowed or even new hair growth stimulated by medical hair loss treatments. Two treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are finasteride (Propecia®) and minoxidil (Rogaine®). Minoxidil is topically applied and is available with out a prescription. Finasteride is a prescribed drug taken orally in pill form. The medical treatments may be used separately or in combination, as recommended by the physician hair restoration specialist.

Medical treatment may retard the rate of hair loss and preserve an acceptable appearance until the physician determines hair transplantation can be undertaken. Medical treatment is typically continued as a complement to hair transplantation. It is important to recall that hair loss is progressive and hair transplantation procedures may have to be continued for some years to keep pace with continuous hair loss.

Actual Patient 26 y/o male medical stabilization with Finasteride and Minoxidil

Cosmetic Cover Up or Camouflage Products

A number of non-prescription products offer “camouflage” for thinning hair. They are applied to the scalp and/or hair to give the appearance of “fullness” to thinning scalp hair. Some are applied directly to the scalp to disguise the appearance of bald scalp under thinning hair. Some are fibers that attach to hair to “bulk up” the appearance of thinning hair. All camouflage products are offered in a variety of colors to match natural hair color. Camouflage agents may be, for some young men, an acceptable short-term solution to improved cosmetic appearance while they wait for hair transplantation.

Hair Systems

A well-designed hairpiece/ hair system can provide an acceptable appearance for some patients with thinning hair. All surgical patients have the option of using a hair pieces rather than surgery. A hairpiece requires monthly maintenance and usually must be replaced regularly. The patient and physician hair restoration specialist can determine whether a hairpiece is an acceptable short-term alternative while the patient waits for hair transplantation.