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Dr. Bernstein answers frequently asked questions about hair transplantation, hair loss, and medical treatment for hair loss.

Hair Restoration Answers

How Long After Hair Transplant Should I Wait Before Continuing Treatment with Rogaine?

Q: I stopped using Rogaine for my hair transplant, when can I start using it again? And would it be any different with the new Rogaine foam. — J.N., London, United Kingdom

A: I would wait at least 7 days to use Rogaine (minoxidil) in either liquid or foam.

The foam has less alcohol and can be irritating when applied to open wounds, but should be fine one week post-op.


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Hair Restoration Answers

Does Rogaine Only Work on Crown?

Q: I heard that Rogaine only works on the crown and not on the front or top of the scalp. Is this true? — D.D., New Haven, Connecticut

A: Rogaine (Minoxidil) has the potential to work where ever there is miniaturized hair, either the front, top or crown (however, it will not work in areas that are completely devoid of hair).

The reason for the misconception that it will not work in the front is because the clinical trial performed by Merck in the 1980’s, that led to FDA approval, only studied the vertex (crown) and thus the company was limited to this labeling. Several years later, Merck realized that this was a misjudgment in the design protocol and ran a new study (approximately one fifth the size of their Phase III vertex trial) to document effectiveness of the drug in the front of the scalp. This allowed them to avoid the vertex restriction in their label.

Another reason for the confusion is that since the hair in the crown seems to have a longer miniaturization phase than hair in the temples, there is a greater window of time in which the medication can act on these hairs. This goes for both minoxidil and finasteride (Propecia).


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Hair Restoration Answers

After a Hair Transplant When Can I Start Massaging My Scalp?

Q: I had a hair transplant 4 days ago and am feeling itchy in the area where I have my grafts. When can I start massaging the area? — N.D., Warwick, R.I.

A: You can massage at 10 days post-op, as the grafts are firmly in place by this time, but I would not scratch the area for several weeks more, if at all.

Itching can be lessened by applying hydrocortisone 1% ointment to the area twice a day and by taking Benadryl 25mg every 4 to 6 hours (may cause drowsiness). Both medications can be obtained over-the-counter without a prescription.


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Hair Restoration Answers

Dr. Bernstein’s Hair Loss: Would You Consider a Hair Transplant if You Were a Better Candidate?

Q: Dr. Bernstein, I saw you on TV where you explained why you haven’t had a hair transplant. If you had better donor hair and you could do the surgery on yourself, then would you consider having a hair transplant? — M.U., Westport, CT

A: Yes.


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Hair Restoration Answers

Laser Therapy: What is Revage Laser and How Does it Compare to Laser Comb?

Q: I heard that you could get a laser treatment for hair loss in a doctor’s office with a new laser called the Revage. What is this and how does it compare to the laser comb that I can buy myself?

A: The Revage Laser is a Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) treatment for thinning hair manufactured by the company Laser Hair Therapy of North America, LLC. It is FDA classified or permitted to be sold as a cosmetic device, but not as a medical device at this time.

The Revage system contains 30 laser diodes that rotate 180 degrees around the scalp. This dynamic process increases the contact of the laser energy with the hair follicles. It is available only through a physician’s office.

In contrast, the laser comb is available without a doctor’s prescription. It is a static device that depends upon the user to properly move it across his/her head in the time recommended for treatment, and at the correct angle, and thus may deliver significantly lower energy to the follicles.


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Hair Restoration Answers

What are Pros and Cons of Laser Therapy at Home vs. Doctor’s Office?

Q: I heard that you can buy a laser for hair loss and use it at home. What are the advantages or disadvantages of doing this?

A: The advantages of home use are convenience and that it is generally less expensive than going to a doctor’s office for treatment.

The main disadvantage of using laser treatments without a doctor’s supervision is that a more effective treatment for hair loss may be available and you may not know about it. By spending time using the laser, the window for a more effective treatment may be missed. A good example is the 20 year old male who has extensive hair loss in his family and is just starting to thin. It is very important for this person to start Propecia (finasteride) as soon as possible, since the long-term benefits of using this medication are well established.

Laser treatment at home, without a prior evaluation by a physician, also risks missing the diagnosis of an underlying medical condition. This can be a particular problem in women where hair loss tends to be diffuse and the cause may not be readily apparent. If the cause of the thinning was due to anemia, thyroid, or ovarian disease, the diagnoses of these treatable conditions might be missed.

Finally, the laser therapy available in a doctor’s office may be significantly more effective than a home unit.

Read more about Laser Therapy for Hair Loss


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Hair Restoration Answers

Could Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) Benefit Women?

Q: I am a 33 year old woman and have been told my hair is too thin on the sides for me to have a hair transplant. Could I benefit from laser treatments?

A: Although the long-term benefits on hair growth are not known, Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is able to stimulate hair to become fuller in appearance in the clinical trials that have been carried out for six month periods.

Since the laser light serves to thicken fine, miniaturized hair, it is particularly suitable to areas of diffuse thinning, rather than areas of complete baldness.

Since hair loss in women commonly has a diffuse pattern, because women can’t take Propecia (finasteride), and the fact that women are less often candidates for surgery (as compared to men), laser therapy in females is particularly appealing.


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Hair Restoration Answers

How Does the Laser Therapy (LLLT) Hair Loss Treatment Work?

Q: I heard about the laser comb and other lasers for hair loss, how do they work?

A: Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is based on the scientific principle of photobiotherapy. Photobiotherapy occurs when laser light, absorbed by cells, causes stimulation of cell metabolism and improved blood flow.

Although the exact mechanism by which lasers promote hair growth is still unknown, they appear to stimulate the follicles on the scalp by increasing energy production and partially reversing the miniaturization process leading to thicker hair shafts and a fuller look.

Read more about Laser Therapy for Hair Loss


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Hair Restoration Answers

What is Origin of Laser Therapy for Hair Loss?

Q: Is the use of Low Level Light Laser Therapy (LLLT) for hair loss new?

A: These lasers have been used for hair loss in Europe for almost ten years. Classified as a cosmetic laser, they are safe for human cosmetic use.

The original research in this technology was carried out at the Wellman Labs for Photomedicine at Harvard University.


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Hair Restoration Answers

What Are “Cold Lasers” in Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)?

Q: I have heard the term “cold lasers,” what exactly are they?

A: The lasers used in Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) are referred to as “cold lasers” because they are able to alter tissue function without having to raise the temperature of the target tissue above 37 degrees C (body temp).


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Hair Restoration Answers

When Can I Resume Smoking After a Hair Transplant?

Q: I had my hair transplant done 10 days back, I was a regular smoker (8-10) cigarettes every day from last 10 years. I have stopped smoking from the day of my surgery, how long should I stop smoking after surgery? — E.D., Glendale, N.Y.

A: I would wait a minimum of 10 days, but the longer the better. The nicotine in the smoke constricts blood vessels and decreases the oxygen to the tissues and the carbon dioxide in smoke displaces the oxygen. Both chemicals retard healing.


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Hair Restoration Answers

Will Hair Cut Affect Hair Growth?

Q: Will cutting my hair short – skin level – adversely affect it? — M.H., Larchmont, NY

A: Hair shafts are not alive (only the follicle is), so cutting the hair will not affect its growth. Read about the Causes of Hair Loss in Men.


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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Propecia Cause Hair Thinning?

Q: I am 22 yrs old and I started shedding hair in a very limited form since I was 20. I have now been on Propecia for nearly 8 months. To date I have not experienced any benefit. In fact, I have seen my hair continue to thin. Is it possible that this thinning is a result of Propecia? — M.M., Boston, Massachussetts

A: Usually the shedding associated with finasteride will subside by 6 months.

If you are still losing hair at 8 months, most likely the medication is not working. Unfortunately, it is not effective in about 15% of patients.


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Hair Restoration Answers

Is it Possible to Lose Hair Transplant Grafts Without Bleeding?

Q: Five days after my hair transplant I shampooed, rubbing the transplanted area vigorously using my finger tips and all the scabs fell off. Is it possible I have dislodged some of the grafts even though they didn’t bleed? If there was no bleeding, is it enough to assume all the new transplanted follicles stayed in place? — N.D., Redding, C.T.

A: At five days after a hair transplant the grafts are pretty secure, but still can be dislodged.

However, if there was no bleeding, it is unlikely that you lost any grafts.


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Hair Restoration Answers

Can a Hair Transplant Treat Hair Loss that begins in the Early 20s?

Q: I am in my early 20’s and I was told my hair loss pattern is a Norwood Class 6, on its way to becoming a Class 7. My hair is brown in color and medium to coarse and I was told I have high density in my donor area. Although I was told I could have hair transplants, do you think that I should based upon what I have told you? — D.W., Pleasantville, N.Y.

A: The main concern I would have is that when someone is already a Class 6 by their early 20’s, he may eventually be left with only a very thin see-through fringe as he ages. A high donor density now does not ensure that this will not occur – and coarse donor hair at age 22 does not ensure that it will not become fine over time. In fact, there is a significant chance that it will.

Since the hair restoration would require one or more large sessions, there is a risk that the donor scar(s) will not be hidden over time. If you had a widened linear donor scar from an FUE-strip procedure, you would need to grow your hair longer on the back and sides to cover it (if that is even possible). And this look of longer hair on the back and sides would not be a good one for a young person, especially if there was not enough donor hair to fill in the crown.

On the other hand, large FUE sessions leave a very wide band of small round scars in the back and sides of the scalp that can become visible if the anticipated permanent donor zone was not truly permanent and narrowed over time.

When we are younger, our decisions are often more emotion-based and impulsive. When one is older, and our tastes change, we may change our mind about having had surgical hair restoration, but the hair transplant, once performed, is not reversible.

Read about the Candidacy for a Hair Transplant


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Updated: 2019-11-15 | Published: 2009-07-02


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