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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Loss Increase During First Four Months of Treatment with Propecia?

Q: I am a 22 yr. old male and have been on Propecia for exactly 4 months. When I started taking the medication, I was in the beginning stages of hair thinning/loss in the front and crown areas, with no change in my hair line. During the time I have taken Propecia, my hair loss has increased drastically. Is it that I just have to bite the bullet and am one of the few unlucky individuals that do not respond to Propecia? Could it be that I am taking the medication incorrectly? Wrong time of day? With or without food? Or, do I just need to give it more time? Is there still a chance I could at least regain the hair I’ve lost over these past 4 months? — A.B., St. Louis, Missouri

A: You are probably experiencing an accelerated phase of hair loss that is possibly made worse by the finasteride. The shedding from finasteride is common during the first few months of treatment and is temporary. The full effects of Propecia are not seen for 6 to 12 months.

I would continue to take the medication for at least a year before you judge if it is working. It does not matter the time of day or relationship to food.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Pulsing or Cycling Hair Loss Medication Dosage Effective?

Q: First off thank you for providing this Blog, it is extremely informative and gives people the opportunity to ask questions of one of the most knowledgeable hair transplant surgeons in the world. You are considered the consummate researcher in the field of hair loss, so I ask this question of you. It appears that all the current hair loss drugs, at one point or another, begin to lose their effectiveness. Have you ever entertained the idea of cycling these drugs, or reducing the dosage for a period of time, to prevent the body from becoming acclimated to these drugs and subsequently making adjustments to receptors causing this? This method is commonly used by bodybuilders and others in the sports profession to elicit the maximum effect from the drugs they employ. Though I have not found any studies along these lines, I believe there are valid reasons why this may work. I hope you may be able to share any information on this subject. — Z.Z., Chicago, I.L.

A: Excellent question. I can answer it only indirectly.

It has been our experience that when you discontinue finasteride (Propecia), or decrease the dose to a degree that it no longer works, the patient will begin to shed hair. When the drug is re-started or the dose increased again, the medications will begin working, but the patient now maintains his hair at a lower baseline. He doesn’t seem to regain the amount of hair he has before the medication was stopped. For this reason, we don’t stop and start finasteride. The same argument applies to dutasteride, although we have less experience with this medication. This experience would speak against using pulse therapy for hair loss.

On the other hand, the hair loss medications finasteride and dutasteride do not necessarily need to be used once a day. Although the serum half-life of finasteride is around 6 hours, the tissue half-life is felt to be around two days. Therefore, alternate day dosing with 2 mg of finasteride (or approx. 1/2 of a 5mg tablet) should work just as well as 1mg a day. An average daily dose of less than 1mg, however, does not seem to be as effective. Dutasteride has a half-life of 5 weeks and is found to bind to scalp tissue for many months, so with dutasteride, a dosing of even once a week will most likely be just as effective as once a day.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Instead of Hair Transplant, Can You Treat Early Hair Loss with Once a Day Minoxidil?

Q: I have some early thinning in my crown and the doctor said I am too early for a hair transplant. I don’t want to take Propecia, but using Rogaine twice a day is a big nuisance. Can I use Rogaine once a day? — L.B., Cleveland, Ohio

A: The tissue half-life of minoxidil is 22 hours.

This means that 22 hours after it is applied, about 1/2 of the compound is still bound to the skin and exerting some effect. Because of this, once a day dosing is probably OK.

Please note that this is hypothetical and that there have been no controlled studies to confirm this.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Transplant Thicken Thinning Hair in Person with Early Hair Loss?

Q: I am 22 and losing my hair all across the top of my head. How can I thicken my hair to its level a few years previously? — I.L., Kentfield, CA

A: If medication, such as finasteride, is successful it can thicken hair by increasing the diameter of the existing hair shafts. Although the cosmetic benefits can be dramatic in a person with significant hair loss, a hair transplant can not restore hair to its original density, since it only moves the existing hair around and does create new hair.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Transplant Treat Diffuse Hair Loss in Women?

Q: My hair loss resembles the grade I female hair loss scale, but none of the male hair loss patterns. It has been relatively stable for the past five years and only recently has it begun to progress further. I began both Propecia and regain two months ago, but the hair loss still continues at the same pace. I’m really worried. Does a hair transplant work in such a diffuse hair loss? — D.D., Park Slope, Brooklyn

A: If your hair loss is diffuse only on top, then a hair transplant will be effective. This condition is called Diffuse Patterned Alopecia or DPA.

If the diffuse pattern of hair loss affects the back and sides as well, then surgical hair restoration should be avoided. In this case (called Diffuse Unpatterned Alopecia or DUPA) the donor area is not permanent and the transplanted hair will continue to thin over time.

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Hair Restoration Series in NY Japion Features Dr. Bernstein

NY Japion — a weekly newspaper in the Japanese language, published in the New York tri-state area, and distributed for free in the Japanese community — has featured Robert M. Bernstein, MD, in their series on hair loss in men and women.

In the series, TV producer, Hideo Nakamura, who is bald himself, goes on a mission on behalf of fellow bald men. His column hopes to help others with hair loss to have a more fulfilled, fun life and to raise their self-esteem.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Do You Treat Diffuse Hair Loss in Donor Area?

Q: I underwent hair transplant surgery several years ago and was pleased with the results. However, over the last 2-3 years I’ve lost hair in the donor area with subsequent loss of hair in the transplanted area. Is this type of hair loss especially difficult to treat? What accounts for hair loss from the back of the head that is typically considered “permanent”? — F.D., Laude, Missouri

A: Less than 5% of patients have unstable donor areas, i.e. where the back and sides thin along with the front and top. We call this condition Diffuse Unpatterned Alopecia or DUPA. It is best to identify this condition before hair transplant surgery is contemplated as people with DUPA are not good candidates for hair transplantation. The diagnosis is made using densitometry by noting high degrees of miniaturized hair in the donor area.

At this point, I would use medications such as finasteride. I would not do further hair restoration surgery.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Why is Propecia Not Stopping My Hair Loss?

Q: I have been on Propecia for a year and my hair loss has not stopped or slowed down. How much longer should I give the drug? Can Propecia speed up hair loss in some patients? — N.V., East Hills, N.Y.

A: If you have not responded to Propecia in one year, it is unlikely that you will.

Finasteride may cause shedding in the first 6 months of treatment, but should not accelerate hair loss long-term. It is most likely that you have progression of your hair loss.

In addition, be sure that you have a correct diagnosis i.e. that you actually have androgenetic alopecia.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Avodart Hair Loss Medication Safe for Male with Early Hair Loss?

Q: My query is prompted by your answer to another query “Is Avodart Safe?” My son, who is in his mid-20s, has been taking Dutasteride for hair loss for about two years now. He had tried Finasteride earlier but without much benefit. Medical supervision regarding Dutasteride is not available in Australia as the drug has not been released here yet. — N.V., Melbourne, Australia

I am concerned by your remarks that there is no biologic model to show the long-term safety of Dutasteride (as opposed to Finasteride). Would you suggest that he goes back to taking Finasteride? We would be grateful for your advice.

A: It is a tough call as I have never met or examined your son, so I can only offer an opinion based on limited information. If you feel your son will be emotionally or socially debilitated by the hair loss, then I think that it may be worth the risk (if there is any) of taking the medication; otherwise, I would use Finasteride.

Please keep in mind that you don’t need to make the final decision now. You may want to defer the decision until he is 28 or so, at time when he is more mature. It is a tough call. Please let me know what you decide.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Finpecia a Viable Hair Loss Medication?

Q: A friend of mine is taking Finpecia, is this the same as Propecia? — A.B., St. Louis, Missouri

A: Both Propecia and Finpecia contain the active ingredient Finasteride 1mg. Finpecia is manufactured in India by the company Cipla. It comes in packets of 10. Finpecia contains the same chemical ingredient as Propecia, i.e. 1mg of Finasteride, but it is manufactured differently and it is less expensive.

Indian patent law allows companies in India to make medications that are patented by drug companies in other countries, since Indian law protects only the processes by which drugs are made and not medication itself. Therefore, if an Indian company finds another way to make a drug, it can legally do so.

Cipla has not published any studies showing that their generic Finasteride is identical or as effective as Merck’s original product in treating hair loss. These alternative processes and drugs are not regulated by the FDA, so there is no assurance that the medication manufactured in India has the same biologic activity or potency as the FDA approved counterpart made in the United States.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Hair Loss Treatment with Avodart Safe?

Q: My friend is taking Avodart, he bought it over the internet. Is it safe to take? — T.G., Denver, Colorado

A: Avodart (dutasteride 0.5mg) was approved by the FDA for the treatment of prostate enlargement in men in 2002. Avodart has not been approved for the treatment of androgenetic hair loss, although physicians can use an approved medication in ways other than for which it was specifically approved. That said, the use of dutasteride certainly requires a doctor’s supervision.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Was Propecia Originally for Treatment of Prostate Enlargement?

Q: I heard that Propecia was being used originally for shrinking the prostate, is this true? — M.D., New Hyde Park, N.Y.

A: Propecia (finasteride 1mg) is not a prostate medication that was serendipitously noted to have a side effect of re-growing hair, it is a medication that was known all along that it might be able to slow hair loss and/or to grow hair.

Although finasteride was first approved for the treatment of prostate enlargement, the researchers at Merck knew, at the outset, that there were families whose members were deficient in the 5-alpha reductase Type II enzyme and that the men in these families neither developed prostate disease nor went bald. In addition they had no long-term problems from the lack of this enzyme.

Merck used this natural model to develop a medication that could block the 5-alpha reductase Type II enzyme – the result was finasteride. Because the only approved treatment for symptoms related to prostate enlargement at the time was surgery, Merck developed finasteride as a medical treatment for this condition prior to developing finasteride as a potential treatment for men with male pattern hair loss.

This also meant that Merck would understand the safety profile of finasteride, and have it approved for a medical disease (symptomatic prostate enlargement), before developing it for a cosmetic condition.

The drug was first submitted to the FDA for the treatment of prostate enlargement as Proscar (finasteride 5mg) in 1991 and it was approved for this use in 1992. The drug was submitted for the treatment of men with male pattern hair loss as Propecia (finasteride 1mg) in 1996 and was approved for this use in 1997.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Treat Hair Loss Using Rogaine and Propecia Together?

Q Do Rogaine and Propecia work synergistically? — N.W., Chappaqua, N.Y.

A: They are synergistic, since the mechanisms of action are different.

Rogaine directly stimulates hair growth, while Propecia is permissive for hair growth by blocking DHT, the byproduct of testosterone that causes hair to miniaturize and eventually disappear.

The important thing to remember, however, is that for most people, Propecia is far more effective.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Women Use Propecia to Treat Hair Loss and Does Their Age Matter?

Q: I have early thinning on the top of my scalp and I was told to use Propecia, but I heard that is was only for men. What do you think? — T.G., Staten Island, NY

A: Women can’t take Propecia during the child-bearing years because, if ingested, it can cause birth defects in male offspring.

In post-menopausal women, where we see the greatest frequency of hair loss, it doesn’t seem to be effective.

In pre-menopausal women who do not plan to become pregnant or who already have children, we are still cautious about using the medication, since there effectiveness has not been proven and its long-term safety in this population has not been tested.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Does Hair Transplant Prevent Hair Loss?

Q: How does a hair transplant prevent hair loss? — M.M., White Plains, N.Y.

A: It doesn’t. Surgical hair restoration does just what it says. It restores hair to an area where the hair has been lost (by borrowing it from an area of greater density that is less important cosmetically, such as the back of the scalp).

To prevent, or slow down, further balding one would need to receive treatment with hair loss medication such as finasteride (Propecia).

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Hair Restoration Answers

What Causes Common Hair Loss or Baldness?

Q: I know that I am going to be bald because my father is bald and I am losing my hair just like him. What actually causes this kind of hair loss? — J.P., Paradise Valley, Arizona

A: Although there are many different causes, the overwhelming number of people that have hair loss have what is referred to as “patterned hair loss” or “androgenetic alopecia.”

In men, it is due to a hormone called DHT, which is a by-product of testosterone produced by the action of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme is inhibited by the hair loss medication Propecia. See the causes of hair loss in men page on the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website for more information.

In women, the mechanism is a little bit more complex as another enzyme, aromatase, is involved in the metabolic pathway. See the causes of hair loss in women page on the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website for more information.

We know that the inheritance comes from both the mother’s and father’s side, although the actual genes causing hair loss in men and women have not yet been identified. Statistically, the inheritance from the maternal side appears to be a bit stronger, but the reason for this is unknown.

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Hair Restoration Answers

When Will Propecia be Available in Generic Form?

Q: I heard that Proscar, the 5mg version of finasteride, is now generic. Is that correct and is Propecia going generic as well? — F.J., Red Hook, Brooklyn, NYC

A: Yes, Finasteride 5mg (Proscar) is now available in a generic formulation. It is my understanding that Finasteride 1mg (Propecia) will not be available generically until the year 2012.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Switch from Propecia to Generic Proscar?

Q: I am currently taking Propecia 1mg a day for hair loss and heard that Proscar 5mg now comes in a generic form. If I get that, how should I take it? — G.A., Fort Lauderdale, FL

A: If you are currently taking Propecia 1mg a day, and want to switch to Proscar (Finasteride 5mg), you can either take Proscar 5mg, 1/4 pill every day or 1/2 pill every other day.

If you break up the pills, be mindful of the potential risk to pregnant women from handling crushed tablets. You can purchase a pill cutter in any pharmacy.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Success of Hair Transplant Affected by Age or Scalp Fibrosis?

Q: It is my understanding that as a person loses his or her hair, the skin of the scalp undergoes a number of changes, namely there is a loss of fat, an increase in cellular atrophy, and of course the dreaded perifollicular fibrosis (now that’s a mouthful). It seems to me that these changes, in particular the fibrotic scarring, are the main obstacles in the way of regrowth, and the reason Propecia does not work for extensively bald men. What can be done about this demon we call fibrosis? Can it be slowed, stopped, prevented, reversed? If we could somehow counteract collagen formation, wouldn’t our baldness problems be solved for good? If a bald scalp is atrophic, how does it have the capacity to hold a whole new head of transplanted hair? Is there a limitation to the number of hairs we can transplant (outside of donor limitations)? — R.L., Rivington, C.T.

A: The findings that you are describing are well documented; however, it is not clear if these changes are the cause of the hair loss or are the result of having lost one’s hair. Most likely, the DHT causes the hair follicles to miniaturize and eventually disappear. This, in turn, causes the scalp to thin and lose its abundant blood supply (whose purpose is to nourish the follicles). The changes in the scalp are also affected by normal aging, which causes alterations in connective tissue including the breakdown of collagen and other components of the skin. The changes seen with aging are greatly accelerated by chronic sun exposure.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Propecia Necessary for Hair Transplant?

Q I am 35 years old and have been using Propecia for the last 3 years, waiting to save enough money for a hair transplant. I no longer feel comfortable using it due to side effects. Can hair transplantation still be effective even without continuing to take this drug afterwards? — Y.C., Matinecock, New York

A Many people choose not to take Propecia or choose not to take it due to side effects and the surgical hair restoration is just as effective. The only difference is that medications can prevent further hair loss whereas surgery cannot.

Medications are not needed for the hair transplant to be successful or the transplanted hair to grow and be permanent.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Do Propecia and Rogaine Act Synergistically?

Q: I have read on numerous websites that Propecia and Minoxidil work synergistically, and that a hair loss suffer will see better results using them together than either one alone. Do you believe this is the case, or do you think Propecia is enough treatment by itself for someone who just began to experience slight hair thinning and is too early for hair transplantation? — K.V., Hewlett Bay Park, New York

A: They may act synergistically since their mechanisms of action are different.

Rogaine (Minoxidil) stimulates the hair follicle directly, but Propecia (Finasteride 1 mg) permits hair growth by blocking the negative effects of DHT. Of the two, Propecia is far more effective. It is reasonable to use the two together as long as the medications are used regularly.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Should I Increase Dose of Propecia if Hair Loss Continues During Treatment?

Q: I recently turned 22 and have been on Propecia for about 2.5 years. The amount of hair that de-miniaturized with daily 1 mg peaked about a year ago and I have seen steady thinning since. I feel that I am too young for a hair transplant. My question is whether or not an increase in dosage of Propecia is indicated here or if I should seek other options entirely? — N.W., Portland, Oregon

A: At 22 years old, I would increase the dose of Propecia before considering hair restoration surgery. However, it is important to realize that there is no scientific evidence that increasing the dose will have any additional effects. There are published data by Roberts et al in the JAAD in 1999 demonstrating that 5 mg is no better than 1 mg from controlled clinical trials.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Before Hair Transplant, How Long Should I Use Propecia?

Q: I am 28 years old and was told that I have early Norwood Class 3 hair loss. I want to have a hair transplant but my doctor told me to use Propecia for 6 months and then come back to discuss surgery. I don’t want to wait that long, what should I do? — L.B., Oyster Bay Cove, NY

A: Actually, you should wait a full year.

If you are an Early Norwood Class 3, the Propecia can work so well (in actually growing hair back) that you may not even need a hair transplant.

The important point is that Propecia only starts working at 3-6 months and during this time there may actually be some shedding as the new growing hair literally pushes out the old.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Buy Propecia at a Discount?

Q: I am considering taking Propecia, but it I went to my local pharmacy in New York City and it is so expensive. Is there a way I can get it cheaper? — A.S.A., Midtown, Manhattan, NYC

A: The website www.drugstore.com sells Propecia online at a reasonable price. A doctor’s prescription is required.

Please note that Propecia is not yet available in generic form.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can I Vary Dosage of Propecia in Treatment of Hair Loss?

Q: I am not yet ready for a hair transplant but am considering Propecia. What is your opinion on the “optimal dose”? I know Merck recommends 1 mg, but could I get away with taking less? Or would I get a better result by taking more (2-3 mgs)? — V.B, Darien, CT

A: You may get away with 0.5 mg a day. However, there are published data by Roberts et. Al. in the JAAD in 1999 showing a dose-response between 0.2 and 1 mg/day, with the lower dose showing reduced efficacy, from controlled clinical trials.

There is little evidence that a higher dose helps, but I often double the dose if a patient has been on 1mg a day for 3-5 years and then stops responding. The hope is that this can postpone the need for surgical hair restoration, but there is no scientific data to support that it will.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Should I Take Propecia After a Hair Transplant?

Q: I have heard that you should take Propecia for 6 to 12 months following a hair transplant. Is this correct? — P.E., Dallas, TX

A: I would only use Propecia if you plan to continue the medication long-term. That said, Propecia — the brand name of the hair loss drug finasteride — is very helpful in preventing further hair loss. I do recommend that patients who have hair loss stay on the medicine for an extended period, regardless of whether or not they decide to have a hair transplant procedure.

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Hair Restoration Answers

What is "Shock Fall Out" After a Hair Transplant?

Q: What is “shock fall out”? – D.B., Chappaqua, N.Y.

A: Shedding after a hair transplant is also referred to by the very ominous sounding term “shock fall out.” The correct medical term is “effluvium” which literally means shedding. It is usually the miniaturized hair (i.e. the hair that is at the end of its lifespan due to genetic balding) that is most likely to be shed. Less likely, some healthy hair will be shed, but this should re-grow.

Interestingly, if transplants are spaced less than one year apart, one often notices some shedding of the hair from the first transplant, but this hair grows back completely. For most patients, effluvium is not a major issue and should not be a cause for concern.

Typically, when shedding occurs, a patient looks a little thinner during the several month period following the transplant, before the transplanted hair has started to grow. The thinning is often more noticeable to the patient than to others. Shedding is generally noted as a thinning, rather than of “masses of hair falling out,” as the term “shock fall out” erroneously suggests.

In general, the more miniaturization one has and the more rapid the hair loss, the more likely shedding will be from the hair restoration surgery. Young, actively balding patients would be at the greatest risk. Older patients with stable hair loss would have the least risk. In either situation, since miniaturized hair is eventually going to be lost, the effluvium has no long-term effect on the outcome of the procedure.

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Hair Restoration Research

The Effect of Propecia (Finasteride 1mg) on Hair Transplants

The progressive decrease in hair shaft diameter that causes thinning (also called miniaturization) characteristic of male pattern baldness, can be decreased by the use of the DHT blocker Propecia (chemical name finasteride). Most men undergoing hair restoration surgery have some existing hair in the area that is to be transplanted that will thin over time and, in fact, may thin a bit more quickly as a result of the surgery. For men undergoing surgical hair restoration, the thinning of the surrounding hair can diminish the overall impact of the hair transplant. Even though Propecia has no effect on the transplanted hair, it can help to maintain the patient’s surrounding hair and is, therefore, useful as an adjunct to hair transplant surgery, to enable the patient to obtain a better overall result.

The present study looks to see if Propecia given from one month before surgical hair restoration until eleven months after, can increase hair growth in the area surrounding the hair transplant. In the study, consisting of almost eighty men divided into two groups in a double-blind fashion were either given Propecia or a placebo. Growth was recorded by hair counts and by photos.

The study showed that Propecia was substantially better than the control group in increasing hair counts and in increasing visible fullness when patients started Propecia a month before their hair transplant and were on the medication for one year.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Does Hair Grow More Slowly After a Second or After a First Hair Transplant?

Q: This is my second hair transplant and is seems like it is growing more slowly than my first. Is this normal? – J.D., Port Washington, N.Y.

A: It is common for a second hair transplant to take a bit longer to grow than the first, so this should be expected. It is also possible that there is some shedding from the procedure, or a continuation of your genetic hair loss.

Propecia may be helpful in this regard. It is important to wait at least a year for the transplant to grow in fully and to give a chance for any hair that was shed to regrow.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Hair Transplant for Thinning Hair on a Crown?

Q: Should you perform a hair transplant on a crown that is just starting to thin? — R.R. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A: A “thin” crown should first be treated with Propecia, as it may thicken the hair to a cosmetically acceptable degree without the need for surgery. If Propecia is ineffective in restoring enough hair, then surgical hair restoration can be considered.

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Hair Restoration Research

5 alpha-Reductase Inhibition in Hair Growth

SUMMARY of Dr. Epstein’s Abstract from his presentation at the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, 2005 – Sydney, Australia

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is known to be the more potent androgen in both Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and in Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA). Testosterone is converted to DHT by the enzyme 5-α reductase in several organs including the prostate, hair follicles, skin, liver and sebaceous glands. 5-α reductase exists in two isoforms: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 is the predominant enzyme in prostate and hair follicles. Finasteride, approved in 1992, inhibits the type 2 isoenzyme, and is available in two doses: 1mg dose for AGA, and 5mg for BPH. Dutasteride, approved in January 2003 to treat BPH, is a dual inhibitor of both isoenzymes.

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Hair Restoration Answers

How Do You Recommend Treating Early Hair Loss?

Q: I am 27 years old and have a Class 3 degree of hair loss. Should I do a hair transplant or consider non-surgical methods of hair restoration? — Y.B., Lake Forest Illinois

A: At age 27 with early hair loss, you should consider non-surgical options first.

Propecia is the most important medication, but you need to be on it for one year at the full dose of 1mg a day to assess its benefits.

If you have done this and other parameters are OK for a hair transplant, such as adequate donor hair density and scalp laxity and you have little evidence that you will become extensively bald (i.e. no donor miniaturization and no family history of extensive baldness), then hair transplantation can be considered.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Should I Consider Hair Transplant if I Have Early Hair Loss in Crown and Donor Area?

Q: I’m currently 24 years old. Ever since turning 20, my hair on top began to thin little by little. I have noticeable thinning on the top part of my scalp and on my crown, but have no recession at the temples. My hairline looks amazingly young and hair on the donor areas seems quite thick. Am I in the early stages of male patterned baldness? I cannot place myself in the Norwood scale since my thinning doesn’t seem to follow the classic pattern. I just started on Propecia. Should I be considering a hair transplant? — B.R., Landover, MD

A: From the description, it sounds like you have typical Diffuse Patterned Hair Loss or Diffuse Patterned Alopecia (DPA). In this condition, the top of the scalp thins evenly, the donor area remains stable, and the hairline is preserved for a considerable period of time. Please see: Classification of Hair Loss in Men for more information.

Propecia would be the best treatment at the outset. When the hair loss becomes more significant, patients with DPA are generally good candidates for surgical hair restoration. It is important, however, that your donor area is checked for miniaturization to be sure that it is stable before a hair transplant is considered.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Will Increased Propecia Dosage Improve Hair Growth?

Q: I have been taking Propecia for three months. Would it help to up my dose? — F.J., Red Hook, Brooklyn, NYC

A: For most people (of average body weight of approximately 150 pounds) 1 mg is the ideal dose.

This is a statistical statement, however. There are some people who fall outside the bell curve. As we don’t know who these people are, we occasionally increase the dose on non-responders after 1-2 years, particularly for those who weigh significantly more than 150 pounds.

Remember, an increased dose also results in an increased risk of side effects and most people experience no additional benefit. There have been no scientific studies to support this regimen.

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Hair Restoration Answers

When Can I Judge the Effectiveness of Treatment with Propecia?

Q: I was wondering why you chose two years as the amount of time one should wait to judge the effectiveness of Propecia. Have you had patients who only saw results after that long? Why does Merck say 3-6 months and Dr. Rassman at New Hair say 6-8 months? I know these numbers aren’t arbitrary, but I’m just wondering what the logic is behind this and how does this relate to planning a hair transplant? — I.P., Hempstead, Long Island, NY

A: The Merck data showed that over 90% of patients had peak response at 1 year and this has been my experience as well.

Most patients show the most dramatic response between 6 to 12 months with some getting additional benefit up to two years. Prior to 6 months, the results are quite variable and there may even be a net loss due to shedding during this period, as the Propecia stimulates a new anagen cycle…

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Hair Restoration Answers

In Early Hair Loss, Can Scalp Tingling and Hair Thinning be Related?

Q: I am twenty and think that I am starting to thin. I am also experiencing a slight tingling in my scalp. Are these related? — T.N., Philadelphia, PA

A: Most likely. Early androgenetic alopecia can be associated with a slight tingling or slight tenderness of the scalp.

You should see a dermatologist for evaluation and, if you have early male pattern baldness, consider starting finasteride (Propecia).

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Hair Loss in Women the Topic in Dr. Bernstein ‘Early Show’ Interview

Excerpt from the interview:

Julie Chen: Dr. Bernstein, I want to go through all the options that are available for women, but what is the difference between female and male hair loss option-wise. What can we do to treat it?
Dr. Bernstein: The main difference medically is that women have hair loss often from hormonal changes and it’s due to an imbalance between progesterones and estrogens. That equilibrium can be reestablished with medication. Often birth control pills can do that.

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Bernstein Medical In The News

Dr. Bernstein Discusses Hair Transplant Repair In Discovery Channel Interview

The Discovery Channel interviewed Dr. Bernstein for a piece on hair transplant repair. Below is an excerpt from the interview:

Dr. Bernstein: When I first saw Ken in 1995. He still had the traditional plugs, and I would say on a scale of one to ten, he was maybe a seven, with ten being the worst. We performed a procedure called follicular unit transplantation where hair is transplanted in exactly the way it grows in nature, which are little tiny groups of one to four hairs.

Ken Gold: After the first surgery I was just ecstatic because I was actually able to look at myself in the mirror.

Watch the full interview.

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