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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
Hair Restoration Answers

Are Lab Tests Required Before Starting Propecia?

Q: I had a good friend get a transplant at your practice and it seems that your practice is the industry leader in hair transplantation. I may one day be looking for one. That being said, my friend said I shouldn’t trust anyone else. I wanted to know if you may be able to tell me what tests/specific labs you have your patients do prior to starting Propecia. I am having my doctor put me on it but he does not recommend any labs but I don’t trust this. So I’m not looking for medical advice, just what your practice may advise a patient to get (in terms of labs/blood tests) prior to starting Propecia. I’m really hoping you can help as I have already contacted a number of other sources and can’t seem to get an answer. — M.B. ~ Upper East Side, N.Y.

A: Blood tests are not required before starting finasteride and we do not routinely perform them. If a patient requests test then Total and Free Testosterone, DHT, and Prolactin are reasonable to obtain, but there is no consensus on what the appropriate tests might be. If a patient requests tests because he has symptoms (i.e. such as lack of energy associated with low T), he should see his internist, urologist, or GP. That said, patients 50 and over (40 and over in patients with a high risk of developing prostate cancer) should have a PSA before starting finasteride.

Read more about Propecia (Finasteride)

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Hair Restoration Research

Androgen Treatment May Boost Hair Regrowth in Women

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology suggests that subcutaneous placement of testosterone pellets may boost hair regrowth in some women.

This retrospective analysis examined patients who had androgen deficiency. Of the 285 patients studied, seventy-six had some degree of hair loss prior to beginning treatment. At one year on testosterone replacement 63% reported an increase in hair regrowth on the scalp.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Does Finasteride Need to be Taken Every Day?

Q: Does finasteride need to be taken every day?

A: Finasteride (Propecia) is a competitive inhibitor of Type II, 5 alpha-reductase (5AR is the enzyme that converts Testosterone to DHT which then causes hair to miniaturize and eventually be lost). Finasteride is 100x times more selective in inhibiting the Type II enzyme (present in hair follicles) than the Type I enzyme (present in other body tissues). The turnover (T1/2) of the finasteride/5AR Type II complex is 30 days and the finasteride/5AR Type I complex is 15 days. This explains why finasteride does not need to be taken every day and why, after stopping finasteride, the effects may take a month or longer to begin to dissappear.

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Hair Restoration Research

Caffeine Reverses Androgenetic Alopecia, Promotes Hair Growth in Cell-Cultured Hair Follicles

Hair loss caused by androgenetic alopecia can be stopped by existing medications, but to date, only two FDA-approved drugs are available for treatment of AGA: finasteride (Proscar ®) and topical minoxidil (Rogaine®). Unfortunately, up to 3 out of 10 individuals will not respond to one or more of these drugs. Because of this, researchers have searched for alternate treatments, especially for women since finasteride is not approved for use in female patients.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Andro Gel Cause Hair Loss?

Q: The last few months my friend and I experimented with andro gel thinking it would make our T levels go up and make our work outs better. We got the andro gel online with no prescription (which I know is really stupid on our behalf). The past couple of months I have been experienced a lot of acne and hair loss. I went to the doctor and confessed and said what I did, and he was very disappointed and lectured me on how dangerous it was and stupid on my behalf – which I totally agree. He told me the rise in testosterone from andro gel contributed to the acceleration of hair thinning and acne. I had mild hair loss prior but the andro gel seem to have accelerated it. The doctor put me on Propecia and gave me some acne cream for the acne. He said the Propecia will undo some of the damage it did for the hair. In your experience, can Propecia reverse some of the damage? I am 28 years old.

A: Your doctor is giving you the right course of action. Testosterone supplements can accelerate hair loss, particularly in those with underlying genetic hair loss. Finasteride 1mg (Propecia) should help you to grow your hair back. You may also want to consider using minoxidil (Rogaine) in addition.

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Hair Restoration Research

Early Baldness May Suggest Prostate Cancer Risk

A study of Australian men between the ages of 40 and 69 suggests that men who were mostly bald by the age of 40 were more likely to develop prostate cancer in their 50s or 60s. The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort study of about 10,000 men showed that men who have high levels of testosterone may be more vulnerable to cancerous prostate tumors.

The team of scientists that conducted the long-term study, which was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, reported that both baldness and prostate cancer are age-related and androgen dependent conditions, so these findings are not surprising. The statement said, “We found that baldness at the age of 40 might be a marker of increased risk of prostate cancer.”

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Hair Restoration Answers

What Is Saw Palmetto And Does It Prevent Hair Loss?

Q: What is Saw Palmetto? — R.P., White Plains, NY

A: Saw Palmetto is a dwarf palm plant native to North America. The active ingredients can be found in the plant’s brown-black berries. It is proposed that it blocks the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). There is little scientific evidence that Saw Palmetto is actually effective for hair loss.

Read about the treatment of hair loss in men

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Hair Restoration Answers

Could Finasteride (Propecia) Remove Unwanted Body Hair?

Q: I’m concerned that finasteride might result in unwanted body hair on the arms, back, etc. Is there any truth to this? My thinking is that since finasteride blocks the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase which converts testosterone to its more active form, DHT (dihydrotestosterone), is it possible that it might actually have some effectiveness in ameliorating unwanted hair? — P.P., Stamford, CT

A: Yes, finasteride does have some ability to decrease body hair, since growth of body hair is stimulated by DHT. However, the effects of finasteride are mild and not observed by everyone, so if you have unwanted body hair you will probably need some other means to remove it such as waxing, laser hair removal or electrolysis. The important thing is that finasteride doesn’t increase body hair.

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Hair Restoration Answers

After a Hair Transplant What are the Effects of DHT on Donor Hair?

Q: Hi! I wanted to ask if after a hair restoration surgery the transplanted hair will eventually fall out? Because the surgery is to restore hair mainly for people with genetic hair loss which results from DHT, won’t the DHT make the new follicles implanted fall out as well? — B.C., Stamford, C.T.

A: Hair loss is due to the action of DHT (a byproduct of testosterone) on hair follicles that cause them to shrink and eventually disappear (the process is called miniaturization). The follicles on the back and sides of the scalp are not sensitive to DHT and therefore don’t bald (miniaturize).

When you transplant hair from the back and sides to the bald area on the front or top of the scalp the hair follicles maintain their original characteristics (their resistance to DHT) and therefore they will continue to grow.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Loss be Caused by Weight Lifting and Increase in Testosterone Levels?

Q: My son, 25 years old, is seeing hair loss around the hairline. According to your website, he is probably a stage II. He may have a little hair loss at the vertex; right now it is hard to tell. He is very muscular and loves weight lifting, but no drug enhancement. Is there a relationship between weight lifting and hair loss, since I have read that weight lifting increases testosterone levels? — G.S., Pleasantville, NY

A: Yes, weight lifting does increase testosterone, which in turn increases DHT. This can accelerate hair loss, although the effect is generally very slight.

Rather than modify his exercise program, your son may want to consider taking finasteride (Propecia). This requires a doctor’s prescription.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Does Propecia Affect Beard Growth?

Q: I am a 21 yrs old male having serious hair loss over the last few years. I also have very little facial hair. Since Propecia is a DHT blocker can it inhibit beard growth? — E.M., Astoria, N.Y.

A: As you suggest, it would be reasonable to assume that since DHT stimulates beard growth, blocking DHT (with finasteride) would tend to inhibit its growth. In practice, this does not seem to be the case, i.e. we don’t find that Propecia has any effect on facial hair. The reason is not clear.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Should I Use Multiple Hair Loss Medications, Such as Both Avodart and Propecia?

Q: I’m 52 years old and have been taking Propecia (finasteride) for two years. It seems to maintain the status quo with no apparent regrowth. I am considering adding a dose of Avodart (dutasteride) once a week in conjunction with the daily Propecia. My question is twofold: (1) Since dutasteride blocks production of both enzymes (type I and II) that produce DHT from testosterone, is it redundant to take the finasteride that only blocks the type I enzyme? — Y.B., Orlando, Florida

A: It is redundant to take both.

However, you may not be taking the optimal dose of dutasteride which seems to be at least 0.5mg a day for hair loss.

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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

Is Hair Loss in Men Caused by Elevated Testosterone Levels?

Q: I was told that if men have a lot of testosterone that that’s when they lose hair. Is this true? — Y.B., Lake Forest, Illinois

A: Although androgenetic hair loss is dependent upon normal levels of testosterone, it is not due to increased testosterone. It is caused by a sensitivity of the follicles to normal levels of testosterone.

So someone that is bald doesn’t have extra levels of male hormones and is not necessarily over-sexed.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Women Experience Hair Loss from Hormone Replacement Therapy with Testosterone?

Q: Dr. Bernstein, a lot of older women are taking testosterone to restore libido, but are they going to suffer hair loss as a consequence?

A: They can. In women there is a delicate balance between the androgens, i.e. testosterone and estrogens. Estrogen is protective to some degree against hair loss in women, which is why most women don’t experience such severe hair loss as do men.

When a woman takes testosterone supplements it upsets that balance and can cause hair loss. However, hair loss in post-menopausal women is usually due to age related changes. Typically, the hair decreases in size in a genetically determined progression that seems not to be directly related to changes in the levels of hormones.

For more information, please see the Causes of Hair Loss in Women page on the Bernstein Medical – Center for Hair Restoration website.

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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

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

How Does Hair Transplantation Work?

Q: Why does a hair transplant work? – L.L., Salem, Massachusetts

A: Hair transplantation works because hair taken from the permanent zone in the back and sides of the scalp maintains its original characteristics when transplanted to a new place in the balding area in the top of the head. This property of hair is called “donor dominance” and is the reason why hair transplants are possible.

The hair follicles in areas that go bald are genetically susceptible to DHT, a breakdown product of testosterone. In response to DHT, these hair follicles miniaturize (decrease in size) until they eventually disappear. When follicles from the permanent zone, that are resistant to the effects of DHT, are moved to a balding area, they maintain this property and continue to grow.

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