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 50% of men over 50 suffer from this kind of hair loss. But with certain treatments, it can be reversed.
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.
Despite there being many lotions and pills which make ludicrous claims about hair regrowth. There are only three treatments that are scientifically proven to reverse the effects of DHT and regrow your hair. As a doctor, sometimes I get frustrated by the lack of clarity around hair loss treatments, so I’d like to take this opportunity to list the treatments that actually work.
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 9 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 - Propecia - “Effective in 66% of men”
Propecia is the most effective medical treatment for hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. Propecia 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, Propecia must be taken every day for as long as you wish to combat hair loss. Once you stop taking Propecia, your hair will start to fall out again within a few months.
The good news is Propecia is very effective at stopping hair loss (in 90% of men), and causes hair regrowth in up to 66% of men. It is available on private prescription for approximately £380 per year. You can order Propecia online here and, if it's medically appropriate for you, one of our doctors will make it available either for delivery or free in-store collection.
Hair Regrowth Cream - Minoxidil - “Effective in 60% of men”
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, which is available for around £180 per year.
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.
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.
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:
- caffeine shampoos
- hair loss vitamins and supplements
- saw palmetto
Despite what you might read, there is no independent scientific evidence to suggest that any of these methods actually cause hair regrowth. You are unlikely to damage your health by using these options in moderation, however you are also unlikely to see your hair grow back.
If you want your hair to grow back then you can either order minoxidil from our online store, or for the prescription treatment Propecia take a quick online consultation and if appropriate receive your treatment via next day delivery or same-day click and collect.