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Causes of Hair Loss
Treatments for Hair Loss
There is no 'cure' for baldness. However, treatments are available to slow hair loss and promote hair growth. Medications available to treat hair loss have varying rates of success. As well, the success of any medication depends on many factors, including the cause of hair loss, how an individual responds to treatment and the extent to which hair loss has occurred. The less profound the degree of hair loss, the more likely an individual is to respond to hair loss medications.
Medications available to treat hair loss
Although there are many treatments on the market today, very few have clinically proven results. For this reason, only a handful of medications have been approved by the FDA. These FDA medications include:
1) Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar)
This medication is taken orally, in pill form, daily. The outcomes of this treatment include a slowing of hair loss and for many, new hair growth. Results often take several months to become apparent. Finasteride works by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a hormone that shrinks hair follicles and is an important variable in male hair loss. Potential side effects of finasteride include dimished sex drive. Finasteride is not recommended for women and dangers exist for women of childbearing age. The drug has been linked to birth defects in male fetuses. Women should not take finasteride under any circumstances.
2) Minoxidil (Rograine)
This non prescription medication is used for the treatment of both androgenic alopecia and alopecia areata. It comes in liquid form that is rubbed onto the scalp twice daily. It has been proven to promote hair regrowth and slow hair loss. Often, new hair growth shows an increased thinness and lightness than older hair. Potential side effects of minoxidil include irritation and dry scalp. Both Finasteride and Minoxidil quit working when an individual stops taking the medication. Neither product is recommended for children or teens, or for the treatment of nonhereditary baldness
3) Cortisone (Cortone)
In a typical year, over 1 million men undergo a vasectomy procedure. Of these men, 2-5% later decide to have a vasectomy reversal. Vasectomy reversal involves reconnecting the ducts that carry sperm from the testicles into the semen. A vasectomy reversal typically costs between $5-$10,000 and is not usually covered by most healthcare plans. It is important to note that the success rate of a vasectomy reversal declines sharply for those men who underwent the vasectomy more than 15 years in the past. A vasectomy is considered the most reliable form of male birth control. After vasectomy incidences of insemination are well below 1%.
Hair transplants and scalp reduction surgery are two surgical methods offered to treat androgenetic alopecia.
a) Hair Transplant
Hair transplants involve taking 'plugs' of skin from the back or side of the scalp, containing a number of hairs, and implanting the plugs into the bald sections of the scalp. Hair transplant usually requires several transplant sessions over time, as hair loss occurs.
b) Scalp reduction
Scalp reduction involves decreasing the area of bald skin on your head by removing a portion of it. This allows hair covered areas of the scalp to cover an increasingly large part of the scalp. Some of these methods create 'flaps', where parts of scalp with hair are folded over regions of bald areas. Often, scalp reduction is combined with hair transplants to achieve a more natural looking hairline. The downside of surgical procedures to treat hair loss include the costs and the potential pain involved. Potential side effects can occur, including infections and chronic head pain. Always choose surgical approaches carefully and consult with a number of doctors and patients for their recommendations.
For those who do not achieve any positive results using other treatment methods, wigs can be the most effective solution. Fortunately, wigs have come a long way over the past few decades. Excellent quality and very natural looking wigs are available today.
The American Academy of Dermatology offers excellent resources and articles concerning all types of hair loss, treatments and causes. For information about treating hair loss with Propecia, read about Propecia & Merck & Co., Inc.
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