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Medical Treatments for Male Hair Loss

  

These days, there's not as much of a negative stigma surrounding hair loss in men and many men are picking up the razor and going bald by choice. For some men, however, male pattern baldness and hair loss can be a devastating blow to self-esteem and confidence. Fortunately, there are more medical treatments for male hair loss available today than ever before.

Before I continue, it's important to note that there is no cure for baldness. By the age of 50 nearly half of all men experience male pattern baldness, which is an inherited condition caused by the body's excessive production of dihydrotestosterone (commonly called DHT). There's not much that can be done to reverse genetics, but options are available to compensate for the hair loss and slow down the rate of loss.

MEDICATIONS

Propecia

Propecia (finasteride) is a drug that works by helping prevent the body from converting testosterone into DHT. The drug can be an effective treatment for male pattern baldness on the front and center of the head, but appears to be ineffective for hair loss near the temples.

In a 5-year study of men with moderate to mild hair loss, about half experienced some re-growth, while 42% had no further loss. In order to maintain any hair that has been gained, Propecia must be taken continually. Most of the hair gained is lost within a year of ceasing therapy.

If you have a good relationship with your doctor, you may wish to ask about a prescription for Proscar (finasteride). Proscar is the same drug as Propecia, but tablets come in 5mg dose. It is cheaper than Propecia, but you will need to cut the pill in fifths (which can be tricky). If you're on a tight budget, this may be an option. Keep in mind that finasteride, even in small concentrations, can cause birth defects in a male fetus, so it should be avoided if there are pregnant women in the household. Consult your doctor before taking any medication for possible complications or side-effects.
 
Rogaine
Rogaine (minoxidil) is a cream or foam that is normally applied to the balding areas twice daily. Like Propecia, hair growth will only occur as long as the product is used and is effective in about 25% of men with male pattern baldness.

SURGERY

Tissue Expansion
During this procedure a device called a tissue expander is inserted under the scalp. Tiny balloons in the expander are gradually inflated over the period of a few months. This causes the skin to expand by up to one third. Another surgery is required to place the newly expanded skin over the bald area.

Plugs
During a transplant, very small plugs of hair and scalp are taken from the side or back and moved onto the bald areas. While this form of surgery has improved, it is still critical to find a good surgeon and get references from his patients before you agree to any treatment. One of the downsides to this form of surgery is that it can leave scarring in the areas where the hair plugs are removed, which will limit your options for shorter haircuts.

Scalp Reduction
This is like a face lift for the top of your head. A section of the bald scalp is removed and the scalp on the sides of the head are pulled together, filling in the bald area.

Flap Surgery
A portion of hair-bearing scalp is relocated to the bald area while still attached at one end to its original blood supply. The type of procedure typically can leave scarring under the hair where the flap was removed, making shorter hairstyles impossible.

The above treatments can help you replace some of the hair you've lost. Unfortunately, most hair loss remedies on the market are, in my opinion, not effective enough for most men to justify the cost. Cut it short and leave the pills and scalpel alone. If the medical options aren't right for you, please read my Non-Medical Treatments for Baldness.



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Men's Magazine: Medical Treatments for Male Hair Loss
Medical Treatments for Male Hair Loss
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