Medical Treatment of Hair Loss
Hair Loss Medications
Medications serve an important role in both the prevention and treatment of hair loss. They are particularly useful in the early stages of the balding process. There are two FDA-approved medications for common baldness in men (androgenetic alopecia); the oral medication Propecia (that contains finasteride 1mg) and the topical medication Rogaine (that contains minoxidil).
Because medical therapies work to thicken hair in areas that are thinning (miniaturized), rather than grow hair once it has been lost, medical treatments are best started as soon as genetic hair loss is diagnosed. Propecia is significantly more effective than Rogaine in treating hair loss, but they have additive effects when used together.
This section focuses on FDA-approved medications, although only two, finasteride and minoxidil, are actually approved to treat androgenetic alopecia. The other drugs commonly used to treat hair loss are approved for other purposes. Avodart (dutasteride) is only approved to treat prostate enlargement (BPH); and Aldactone (spironolactone), a diuretic, is approved for the treatment of high blood pressure. In this section you will learn how these medications — and several others commonly used for hair loss — work, how they should be used, and their potential problems. Read more about Propecia, Rogaine, Avodart, Aldactone, and other Hair Loss Medications »»
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is a treatment for hair loss based on the principle of photo-biotherapy. This involves the use of laser light to stimulate cell growth. The laser stimulates hair follicles on the scalp producing thicker hair shafts and a fuller appearance.
LLLT is, perhaps, more useful in patients with diffuse hair loss (the most common pattern seen in women). As with drug treatments, patients who seem to respond to this form of therapy have areas of thinning, rather than areas of the scalp that are completely bald. However, clear cut responses to laser therapy are often hard to document.
Laser therapy for hair loss can be administered in a doctor’s office and is also available in a smaller home version. More powerful laser systems that utilize a rotational therapy process are available for use under a doctor’s supervision. The home version works like a comb to spread the hair so the laser light can more easily reach the scalp. Read more about Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) »»
Using cosmetic camouflage is a common way of hiding ones hair loss and is often used by persons who are just starting to thin, especially in the crown. A number of over the counter products are now available that can make the hair look thicker. They come primarily in powders, sprays and creams such as Toppik and Dermatch. The main limitation of these products is that, unless the person has a significant amount of hair to hold the cosmetics in place, it doesn’t look natural.
Wigs, hats (particularly baseball caps), and scarves are all used to hide one’s balding. In recent years, elaborate hair systems, attached by glue or sewn to the patient’s existing hair, have evolved into a major industry. The problem with these systems is that they must be periodically adjusted, requiring repeated visits to the salon and significant expense. Because they can’t be removed at night, they cause traction hair loss, making the user even more dependent on the hair piece. They are also difficult to clean and often give the wearer the appearance of having too much hair. Read more about Cosmetic Camouflage products »»
In the case of unwanted body or facial hair, as well as the elimination of hairs in awkward or undesirable places from improperly done hair transplants, Dr. Bernstein’s wife, owner of Shizuka New York celebrity day spa offers electrolysis and IPL (Intense Pulsed Light Hair Removal) as well as skin and hair care products and services. The Spa is located adjacent to Rockefeller Center.
Herbal Hair Loss Treatments
The most common herb that has been claimed to grow hair is Saw Palmetto. This is a small plant that contains two types of oils, fatty acids and sterols. It has also been marketed as an aphrodisiac, a steroid to help build muscle tissue, a treatment for natural breast enlargement, and as an aid in the treatment of prostate enlargement.
The exact mechanism of action is unknown. Saw Palmetto appears to be somewhat effective in alleviating the symptoms of prostate enlargement and is commonly recommended for this condition. However, there have not been any controlled, scientific studies to show that it can re-grow a person’s hair and it has been the experience of physicians who treat hair loss that it is not effective for the treatment of this condition. Many other herbal remedies have been used for hair loss over the years, but none seem to have any substantial benefit in growing hair.