What is hair regrowth treatment?
Hair loss is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. There are many different types of hair loss, but the most common is male pattern baldness. This is a type of genetic hair loss that affects men, usually in middle age. In fact, up to 50% of men over 50 experience this kind of hair loss. But with certain treatments, it can be reversed.
In this article we’ll look at what causes male pattern baldness and how you can treat it with so-called ‘hair regrowth’ treatments.
What is male pattern baldness?
Male pattern baldness occurs when the hormone testosterone is naturally converted into another hormone called 'DHT'. Certain men have a genetic sensitivity to DHT which weakens their hair follicles (or hair roots) and eventually leads to permanent hair loss. Hair regrowth, therefore, requires the reversal or suppression of DHT's effect on hair follicles.
How do I know if I have male pattern baldness?
Male pattern baldness is recognisable by the pattern of hair loss it creates. Men suffering from this condition lose the hair from the front and top of their head. This leaves a U-shape of hair around the sides to the crown of the head. It is less common for male pattern baldness to lead to hair loss at the back or sides of the head.
For this reason, it is easy to distinguish male pattern baldness from other types of hair loss. Some types of hair loss are temporary, and lead to hair regrowth on their own. Other types are permanent, and more severe than male pattern baldness. Alopecia universalis, for instance, is a type of hair loss that leads to the loss of all of the hair on the head and body.
Can hair loss be reversed?
Despite there being many lotions and pills, which make ludicrous claims about hair regrowth. There are only a handful of treatments that are scientifically proven to reverse the effects of DHT, slowing hair loss, and for some men, reversing it.
Hair regrowth treatments
Whilst this is the most expensive and invasive option, it can often be the most effective. By removing hair follicles from certain areas of the body, surgeons can identify hairs that are resistant to DHT and place them in areas of lost hair. In this way, your hair can regrow in thinning areas within nine months. Each surgery starts at around £6,000 and many men require two or more operations to achieve total regrowth.
Apart from the cost, the downside can be scarring in the areas from where the follicles are removed and the subsequent pain involved. Equally hair transplants are not normally recommended as a man's first option, as they tend to be very expensive and not always effective if further hair loss is expected. By implanting the wrong hairs to the wrong area, some men can be left with balding patches behind their newly regrown hair. It is advised to wait until the full extent of your hair loss is known.
Hair regrowth pills
Finasteride (sometimes referred to by the branded version, Propecia) is the most effective medical treatment for hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. It’s effective at stopping hair loss in 90% of men, and causes hair regrowth in up to 66% of men.
Finasteride is a prescription tablet that is taken once a day. It contains the active ingredient finasteride, a chemical that helps reduce the levels of - and therefore the effects of - DHT on the hair follicles.
To work properly, Finasteride/Propecia must be taken every day for as long as you wish to combat hair loss. Once you stop taking the treatment, your hair loss will start again.
Topical hair regrowth treatments
Minoxidil is the second most effective treatment for hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. Minoxidil is a lotion or foam that is available from high street pharmacies without a prescription. The most common brand in the UK is Regaine - you can order Regaine for Men, Regaine for Women or minoxidil solution from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.
To work properly, minoxidil must be rubbed into balding areas on the scalp every single day. As with Propecia, minoxidil is only effective for as long as you’re taking it. Once you stop using minoxidil, you can expect your hair loss to resume within a few months.
Like Propecia, minoxidil is also very effective at preventing hair loss and promoting regrowth. In one study, it was found that 60% of men who used Minoxidil every day experienced hair regrowth. Unlike Propecia, Minoxidil can be used by women suffering from genetic hair loss. Find out more about minoxidil here.
Unproven hair regrowth treatments
Because so many men are affected by male pattern baldness, there are a lot of so-called “hair loss treatments” available on the internet, and in pharmacies and health shops. These include:
Despite what you might read, there’s not lots of evidence to support these over the counter treatments helping your hair grow back. However, you’re unlikely to damage you/your hair’s health by using these options in moderation.
When to seek treatment for hair loss
If you’re experiencing hair loss, you can always speak to your GP, particularly if it’s sudden or it’s worrying you.
If you think your hair loss is down to male pattern baldness, you can use our online service. You can order Regaine extra strength foam for men or take a quick online consultation to see if you’re suitable for Finasteride/Propecia.