More commonly known by the brand name Rogaine, minoxidil has been used for decades to help treat hair loss in both men and women. Since minoxidil is available over-the-counter and does actually help hair grow, you might wonder why you would ever consider a hair transplant when you can simply use an easily available, topical medication.
When deciding whether to start using it and keep using it, or to undergo hair restoration instead, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of the medicine.
Pro: Easy to Get
One of the big pros of minoxidil is that it’s easy to get. You don’t have to see a doctor for a prescription, you can buy it over-the-counter. But, that advantage can also be a disadvantage if it keeps a patient from seeing his or her doctor. Minoxidil helps treat hair loss due to male or female pattern baldness. It’s important to find out the cause of your hair loss before treating it to make sure the treatment is actually going to help and to make sure you’re not missing a health condition that can be contributing to your hair loss.
Con: You Need to Be Consistent
You can’t slack off if you’re using minoxidil to regrow your hair. The treatment only works if you apply it as directed. That means using the product twice a day, every day. Once you stop using it, the hair will stop growing and new growth will fall out.
Pro: Relatively Simple to Use
Another benefit of minoxidil is that it is pretty easy to use. It comes either as a foam or a liquid, which you put directly on the scalp. Once you get in the habit of using it twice a day, the application process isn’t too precise or demanding.
Con: Not As Effective for Advanced Hair Loss
Minoxidil might be more effective when used by younger people, such as those who are under age 30. It’s also usually more effective if you’ve only been losing your hair for a few years. If you have an area that’s completely bald, minoxidil might not help restore lost hair in that area at all.
The treatment works differently on different patients, whether male or female. Some only experience a mild amount of hair growth or notice that the newly grown hair is very fine.
Con: Doesn’t Work Right Away
Like a hair transplant, the results from using minoxidil aren’t instantaneous. You might shed some hair in the first two weeks after you start using the medication. The shedding occurs because the newly growing follicles push out the older hairs.
Once the shedding stops, it can take another few months for you to notice any new growth. Some people have to use the medicine twice a day everyday for at least a year before they notice any changes. It’s also possible that the treatment won’t help your hair grow back at all, but will simply make your existing hair grow more thickly.
Pro: Can Boost the Results of Hair Restoration
While some people try using minoxidil on its own, others find that it is helpful to use it after a hair transplant. If you are considering using minoxidil after hair restoration surgery, it’s important to talk to your surgeon first. Minoxidil was originally marketed as a drug to help patients with high blood pressure. Using it immediately after surgery can cause a drop in blood pressure and dizziness.
Con: Concerns for Women
The 2 percent solution of minoxidil is approved by the FDA for use by women who are experiencing hair loss. The 5 percent solution isn’t FDA approved for women, for a few reasons. The 5 percent solution contains more ingredients that can trigger skin irritation or an allergic reaction. The stronger concentration also puts women at an increased risk for hypotension, or low blood pressure, which can cause dizziness and fainting.
Minoxidil can also cause unwanted hair growth in women. The solution can migrate from the scalp to another area of the body, such as the face. If left on the face, it can cause facial hair to grow.
Medications like Rogaine and the generic form of Minoxidil can seem like a quick fix for hair loss. But, it turns out that the treatment isn’t quick nor does it necessarily fix the problem. The only permanent way to treat hair loss that’s due to male or female pattern baldness is with a hair transplant.
Dr. Kyle Choe is a hair restoration specialist in Virginia Beach. He’s available to answer any questions you have about the surgery or about the benefits and drawbacks of minoxidil. You can reach Dr. Choe at the Choe Center for Hair Restoration. Call (757) 389-5850 for a consultation today.