Chemical treatments for men with thinning hair claim to stop and/or regrow hair and in many cases, they live up to the claim. But they are by no means a magic bullet for baldness. Once you stop using it, the hair falls out again and you are back to where you started… looking for a solution.
Rogaine and Propecia are common over-the-counter treatments for hair loss. Rogaine is available in normal strength 2 percent solution or extra strength 5 percent solution. The product is proven to re-energize shrunken hair follicles and increase blood flow to the scalp.
However, neither Rogaine nor Propecia can regrow hair on a totally bald pate nor can they repair a thinning frontal hairline like hair transplant surgery can. They seem to be most effective when used to treat hair loss on the crown, or vertex, of the scalp. Both products are also proven to slow hair loss but some men may eventually develop a tolerance for them, which reduces their usefulness.
The active ingredient in Rogaine is minoxidil. This is a solution which is applied to the scalp twice daily. It’s believed that Rogaine works by preventing the hair from thinning while also increasing protein blocks to promote new hair growth. While minoxidil has been shown to stimulate follicles, it is not free of side effects. Some men report rashes, rapid heartbeat, or dizziness after using minoxidil. Minoxidil may also increase bleeding in some men who use it. A number of cosmetic practitioners view minoxidil products as an adjunct following hair transplant surgery because it can prevent further hair loss as the grafted hair becomes established. Some grafts may not take root or they may be rejected, resulting in potential repetitive surgeries.
The active ingredient in Propecia is finasteride and this is taken once daily as a pill. Finasteride decreases the enzyme activity responsible for the creation of DHT which is the primary cause of male and female pattern baldness. This helps to maintain existing hair and even assist in re-grow of thinning hair. Propecia cannot be used by women.
While Propecia and Rogaine both have their advantages, hair transplant surgery is still your best bet for a more permanent treatment for thinning hair. Rogaine and Propecia are good temporary solutions for baldness but their results last only as long as their continued use.
To learn more about treatments for hair loss discuss your options with a qualified cosmetic physician or hair transplant specialist.
Dr. Kyle S. Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon and hair transplant specialist located in Virginia Beach. Contact The Choe Center for Hair Restoration at (757) 389-5850 for a personal consultation.