Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration - Rogaine (Minoxidil) - Page 2
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Q: How effective is the HairMax Laser Comb?

A: It is difficult to tell since there are no long-term studies using the LaserComb.

From the data we have available, it seems to be about as effective as Rogaine (Minoxidil). As most who have used Minoxidil know, it only works in areas where there is a fair amount of miniaturized hair and over time loses its effectiveness.

The HairMax LaserComb is not as effective as Propecia (Finasteride) and, of course, is not a substitute for surgical hair restoration.

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Q: Will Propecia and Minoxidil reverse some of the miniaturization going on with someone with thinning hair? If I do need a hair transplant will I have to stay on these medications? — C.C., — Fairfield County, Connecticut

A: Yes, both minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) affect the miniaturization of the hair follicles and help restore the shrunken follicles to cosmetically viable hair.

Minoxidil works by directly simulating miniaturized follicles to grow, whereas finasteride blocks DHT, the hormone that causes hair to miniaturize and eventually fall out.

Finasteride is much more effective than minoxidil in preventing or reversing the miniaturization process and it is so much more convenient to use that we generally suggest finasteride after a hair transplant procedure, but rarely recommend minoxidil.

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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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NY Japion - Dr. Robert M. 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.

Nakamura interviewed Dr. Bernstein for this weekly series that began in October 2006. In issues No. 1 and 2, Dr. Bernstein explained the basic mechanism of balding for both men and women which are quite different in its causes, balding types, and progression of hair loss. The NY Japion’s readers were all very surprised by the fact that balding for men is actually related to genes on both the mother’s side as well as the father’s side of the family. Dr. Bernstein also shared his unique theory of why Japan’s Samurai had the uniformed bald look.

The column discussed post-op care after hair restoration surgery and explained the drug Propecia, a men’s oral hair growth treatment, minoxidil and some cosmetic hair products.

Reporter Nakamura was also examined by Dr. Bernstein and with the patient’s permission was allowed to observe a hair transplant surgery. Issues No. 3, 4, 5 are about the surgical hair restoration procedure known as Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation (FUT), a method that Dr. Bernstein helped to pioneer. By using the patient’s own hair, FUT can give totally natural looking results. The patient’s own hair starts growing where there was no hair before.

You can download a PDF version of the original series (in Japanese) at the link below:


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Q: Over the past three months, my hair seems to be thinning more on one side. Is it common in male pattern hair loss for it to be more on one side? I had a lot of stress about three months ago and have heard that this could be the cause. Is this possible? Should I use Rogaine to treat it? — B.R., Landover, MD

A: Regardless of the cause, hair loss is usually not perfectly symmetric. This applies to male pattern hair loss as well.

In your case, it is important to distinguish between telogen effluvium (shedding that can be due to stress) and hereditary or common baldness. The three month interval from the stressful period to the onset of hair loss is characteristic telogen effluvium, but you may have androgenetic alopecia as an underlying problem.

The two conditions are differentiated by identifying club hairs in telogen effluvium and miniaturized hair in androgenetic alopecia. In addition, a hair pull will be positive in telogen effluvium (when a clump of hair is grasped with the fingers, more than five hairs pull out of the scalp at one time) and will be negative in common baldness. The hair loss diagnosis can be made by a dermatologist.

Hair cuts do not affect either condition.

Rogaine (Minoxidil) is only effective in androgenetic hair loss and only marginally so. Finasteride is the preferred treatment if your hair loss is genetic when it is early and a hair transplant may be indicated if the hair loss progresses.

Shedding from telogen effluvium is reversible and does not require specific treatment.

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Q: What is the difference between Rogaine for men and Rogaine for women? — G.K., Hawthorne, N.Y.

A: Rogaine, the brand name of generic minoxidil, comes in formulations for both men and women. The men’s versions come in a 5% solution and a 5% foam while women’s products are the 5% foam and 2% solution. Of these, the strongest and most effective is the 5% men’s solution. This is due to the inclusion of propylene glycol, which is a vehicle that helps the active ingredient, minoxidil, to more readily penetrate the scalp. As the other products do not contain propylene glycol, they may be slightly less effective.

Instructions for use also differ on the label between the men’s and women’s products. All products (5% men’s solution, 5% men’s foam, 2% women’s solution) recommend twice daily use, except for the 5% women’s foam which recommends once daily application. In reality, a thorough once daily application seems to be nearly as effective as twice daily for all version of topical minoxidil.

While the 5% solution may be stronger, it is more irritating to the scalp and more difficult for some to tolerate. Some people have a sensitivity to the added propylene glycol and will experience redness, burning, itching, and irritation. If this occurs, patients should switch to the 5% foam or 2% solution. We also recommend that patients use enough of the medication when they apply to adequately cover the treatment area of the scalp. Often, this means using 2 or 3 capfuls of foam or 2-3 droppers full of the solution (2-3mL).

It is important to understand, that contrary to the more restrictive package indications, it works in all areas of the scalp where there is thinning. It is not only for use in the crown. Many patients find that evening application allows the full 4-6 hours of contact time necessary for absorption and that the product will dry overnight and no longer look greasy in the morning. Results can appear as early as 3-6 months, but we often advise using minoxidil for a full year before judging its efficacy. As the hair is always cycling and growing, the product will need to be continued daily for ongoing benefit.

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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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Q: If Rogaine is used only once a day will it still be effective? — I.P., Hempstead, Long Island, NY

A: Once a day topical use of Rogaine (topical minoxidil 2% and 5%) is probably almost as effective as using it twice a day. The reason is, although minoxidil has a relatively short half-life of several hours when given orally, when topically applied, it has a half-life of 22 hours in the skin.

This suggests that once-a-day dosing is a reasonable option. It is important to realize that Pfizer, the company that now makes Rogaine, specifically states that it will be less effective if used only once a day.

Read about Rogaine (minoxidil)
Read Tips on Using Rogaine

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Q: I have read on numerous websites that Propecia and Minoxidil work synergistically, and that a hair loss sufferer 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.

For patients contemplating surgical hair restoration, we generally have them continue Propecia only, since applying Minoxidil is too fussy and offers only incremental benefit.

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The highly-rated CBS television program “The Early Show” interviewed Dr. Bernstein as part of a three-part series on hair loss in women. View a clip of the video here:

Watch the video at YouTube or go to the Bernstein Medical YouTube Channel to see more videos on hair loss in women and other hair restoration topics.

Read the full transcript here:

Julie Chen: There are many treatments available for serious hair loss including surgical options like hair transplants. That may sound scary, but for one woman, it was the answer she’d been waiting for.

Narrator: Marian Malloy is used to being in control. As the duty manager for an international terminal at Newark Airport, it’s her job. But Marian wasn’t always so self-confident. Due to a condition called alopecia areata, Marian began losing her hair back in college.

Marian Malloy: I was on my own for the very first time and I was learning about life and learning about my hair loss. And it just devastated me. So I started out picking out methods to improve my hairline. Initially, I went to a dermatologists who put me on a prescription of injections, actually. I would go over weekly and he injected my head, and I got results, but I also started growing facial hair, which wasn’t something that I wanted. After that, I decided to start with the Rogaine and once again I saw results, but Rogaine was something that I had to do every day for the rest of my life, and I just didn’t want to be that dependent on a medication.

Narrator: Marian continued to search for an acceptable treatment to her condition, even trying hair plugs, until she heard about Dr. Robert Bernstein’s new method of Follicular Unit Transplantation, or in layman’s terms, a hair transplant.

Marian Malloy: I wasn’t scared at all. I was desperate, so that overrode everything.

Julie Chen: Marian Malloy is here along with her hair transplant surgeon, Dr. Robert Bernstein, to help us look at some of the medical options that are available to women suffering from this affliction.

Good morning to both of you.

Dr. Bernstein: Good morning.

Marian Malloy: Good morning.

Julie Chen: Marian, thank you for speaking out about this very private problem. How has your life changed since getting the hair transplant?

Marian Malloy: Well, I just feel better about my appearance, and appearance is very important to me in my line of work. I just feel a lot better and I think I look better. My hairline looks better.

Julie Chen: Boost in the self-confidence department?

Marian Malloy: Actually, yes.

Julie Chen: And your friends and family see a difference in it?

Marian Malloy: You know, my friends and family really didn’t notice a difference before, and they thought I was crazy for harping on it the way that I did.

Julie Chen: But if you see it, that’s all that —

Marian Malloy: And it was all about me. It’s not about my family and friends. It’s about how I feel.

Julie Chen: Right.

Marian Malloy: Yes.

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.

Julie Chen: So that’s one option.

Dr. Bernstein: One option. For the most common cause of hair loss, genetic hair loss, Minoxidil can be used for both men and women, but the most effective medication for men, Propecia, can’t be used in women. And the reason –

Julie Chen: Why not?

Dr. Bernstein: The reason is that it causes birth defects if taken during pregnancy and postmenopausally it doesn’t seem to work.

Julie Chen: Oh, okay. So talk to me about Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine .Just as successful for women as in men?

Dr. Bernstein: It seems to be similarly successful, but the success rate is not very good, and one of the problems with its use in women is that you can get hair at the hairline on the forehead. So the usefulness is a little bit limited.

Julie Chen: So is it promoting hair growth if it does work, the Rogaine, or is it just making your existing hair grow in thicker? I’ve heard both.

Dr. Bernstein: It actually stimulates the growth of existing hair.

Julie Chen: Okay so you got to be really careful topically what you touch after you’re rubbing it into your scalp.

Dr. Bernstein: Yes.

Julie Chen: Another option is topical Cortisone and Cortisone injection.

Dr. Bernstein: Yes many people think that Cortisone can be used for genetic hair loss or common hair loss and it really can’t. It’s a good treatment for specific types of diseases, the most common one is alopecia areata. In that condition, the body actually fights off its own hair follicles. And then the Cortisone is used to suppress the immune system and actually allows the body to permit the hair to grow back.

Julie Chen: Now, Marian tried these options that we’re talking about. You weren’t satisfied, so you had a hair transplant.

Marian Malloy: Yes.

Julie Chen: Describe exactly what you did for Marian.

Dr. Bernstein: In the past, hair transplantation was not a good option for women because hair was transplanted in little clumps. With Follicular Unit Transplantation, we can now transplant hair exactly the way it grows, which is in little tiny bundles of one to four hairs. With Marian we took a strip from the back of her head, in other words, right from the back of the scalp where you can’t see it.

Julie Chen: Where there’s more hair?

Dr. Bernstein: Yes, we remove that strip and place it under a microscope and dissect out the individual follicular units – the hair is transplanted exactly the way it grows in nature. And that hair is then put in needle-poke incisions all along the hairline, and because the grafts are so small, you can actually mimic the swirls and the change in hair direction exactly the way the hair grows naturally.

Julie Chen: And it stays?

Dr. Bernstein: Yes, it stays. We make a very snug fit between the graft and the needle-poke incision. And so it really holds on to the grafts well. In fact, the patients can shower the next morning.

Julie Chen: The next morning? Marian, what was your experience like having this hair transplant? No problems since?

Marian Malloy: No problems, absolutely no problems.

Julie Chen: Did insurance cover any of this?

Marian Malloy: No, absolutely not.

Julie Chen: How costly is this?

Dr. Bernstein: The average procedure is about $7,000.

Julie Chen: And it’s one procedure and you’re done?

Dr. Bernstein: Usually one to two procedures.

Julie Chen: $7,000 a pop. Well, you found it was worth your money, is that right, Marian?

Marian Malloy: Absolutely, yes.

Julie Chen: Dr. Bernstein, Marian Malloy, thank you both for coming on the show talking about this.

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Dr. Bernstein was interviewed by New York Newsday in their article, “It’s a Hairy Decision Picking a Treatment for Baldness.” The complete article is below:

HEALTH MATTERS COLUMN

Even IF they don’t talk much about it, just about all the guys he knows are taking medication for their thinning hair, said Steve, a retail manager in his early 30s from Suffolk County, NY. He would be too, but he had side effects right away. He’s had consultations for hair transplants, but that won’t work either because of the pattern of his balding.

So he’s using a protein product that makes his hair look fuller, changed his diet to include leafy green vegetables, gone to two psychics for help. And, he said, he’s biding his time, waiting for new hair restoration medications or for hair cloning to hit the marketplace.

“In the ’90s, everything’s about looks,” said Steve, who asked that his last name be kept confidential. “No one wants to give up their youth.” All the effort to find a hair restoration solution is worth it, he said, “because losing my hair bothers me a lot.”

Sure, hair loss isn’t crippling or life-threatening. But to hear people’s tales, it’s traumatic, depressing and embarrassing.

Yet, you’re more likely to get a snicker than a hug for your pains, said Spencer Kobren, 34, a Manhattan consumer activist and author of “The Bald Truth,” (Pocket Books, 1998, $6.99.) There may be few open arms to comfort you, he said, but there are plenty of extended hands to take your trust and your money.

Kobren should know. He has spent several years testing out hair loss products and talking to the experts about his own hair loss, which began at 22. Now he serves as a sounding board and clearinghouse for the good news and the bad about hair loss and its treatments on a syndicated radio show, aired locally on WEVD /1050 AM on Sunday nights.

“You feel like you’re losing a part of yourself. You see your appearance deteriorate, often rapidly and drastically,” he said. You become vulnerable to promises and pitches, but don’t be swayed by them, said Kobren, who now has a full head of hair. Instead, do a lot of research. The wrong hair restoration products or treatments may not only fail to grow hair, they can make matters a lot worse. For example, he said he gets thousands of letters and e-mails about botched hair transplants that leave men scarred, poorer and balder.

According to Kobren, about $7 billion is spent by consumers annually on finding solutions to hair loss. There are about 50 million men who are balding, with at least 20 percent starting in their 20s. Most have male-pattern baldness, genetically linked and triggered by the action of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Hair loss is not just a guy thing, though. Plenty of women — about 20 million — have varying degrees of it too. Hair loss is finally getting recognition as a women’s health problem, said Maggie Greenwood- Robinson, whose book, “Hair Savers for Women” (Three Rivers), is due next spring. Kobren’s “The Truth About Women’s Hair Loss,” (Contemporary) will be out in January. “There are more options than ever before for women with hair loss,” said Greenwood-Robinson, and they shouldn’t give up.

But they do have to be cautious. The diagnosis and treatment for men and women is very different, said Dr. Robert M. Bernstein, assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia College of Physicians arid Surgeons and medical director of the New Hair Institute in Manhattan and Fort Lee, N.J.

“Women usually have a diffuse type of hair loss with thinning all over,” he said, “while men generally lose hair on the front and top and keep a permanent zone on the back and sides.” Female baldness can also be due to DHT, but many women lose hair because of anemia, gynecological issues, thyroid disorders or stress, among other reasons. You don’t want to waste your efforts on hair restoration products when what you need is more iron or different birth control pills. “A medical evaluation is extremely important to rule out underlying medical conditions,” said Bernstein.

The treatment of hair loss is an increasingly complicated decision for both men arid women, but at least there is more information than ever to help you ask the right questions. Web sites include www. thebaldtruth.org and www.regrowth.com. Bernstein’s practice has a Web site at www. newhair.com and a detailed book called “The Patient’s Guide to Hair Restoration.”

Your hair restoration options include:

Medication: Finasteride (brand name Propecia), taken orally by prescription. Available for under two years, Propecia is for men only and causes side effects in about 2 percent of them. It has been shown to stop hair loss in about 87 percent of users and new growth in about half. It’s not for women, because it can cause birth defects if a woman is pregnant, and if she’s past child-bearing age, it doesn’t seem to work.

Minoxidil: (brand name Rogaine), used topically. It can be used by both men and women and appears to slow down the rate of hair loss, but not to prevent balding in the long haul. Any effect from either of these hair restoration medications stops when you no longer use them.

Hair transplant surgery: for men and women. Bernstein has pioneered a state-of-the-art technique called follicular unit transplantation, a precise method using hair-follicle groupings that result in a more natural growth of hair and doesn’t leave scars.

Removing grafts of skin from your head and placing them in balding spots is clearly an art as well as a science. Besides being a good candidate for surgical hair restoration, you need to find a dermatologist with a lot of experience performing hair transplant surgery. Expect to ask many questions, learn the risks, see pictures of other patients and meet them in person.

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