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How is Your Hair Thinning?
As many men know, hair loss comes in different forms. In some men, it manifests in the formation of a shiny round bald patch and, for others, it results in a receding hairline.
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If you suffer from hair loss, you are not alone! Millions of men – men of all ages – have some degree of hair loss, and many of them as early as the age of 25.
This article about hair restoration options for men is one in a series of articles. Click these links to check out the other articles:
- What Are the Top Female Hair Restoration Options?
- Hair Restoration: Understanding Hair Loss and Treatment Options – Part 1
- Hair Restoration: Understanding Hair Loss and Treatment Options – Part 2
- Surgical Hair Restoration Options for Women
- Surgical Hair Restoration Options for Men
- Understanding Hair Loss and Causes for Hair Loss in Women
- Hair Loss: Thinning Hair in Men and Its Causes
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Though you may not be able to control whether you develop hair loss, you do have control over how you choose to treat it. There are a number of hair restoration methods out there and one of them just might work for you. In this article, you’ll receive an overview of the best hair loss treatments for men so you can make an educated decision.
Hair Restoration Solutions for Men
Hair loss is a common but still embarrassing issue for many men. Though it is commonly considered a natural consequence of getting older, that is not always the case. In many men, hair loss is the result of genetics, hormonal changes, medical conditions, or even stress. Identifying the cause and type of your hair loss is the first step you should take. After that, you can begin to think about which option is best for treating your hair loss.
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When it comes to male hair restoration, there are a number of options – here is a quick overview of the most common:
- Hairline grafting
- Surgical hair transplant
- Laser hair restoration
- Topical applications
The treatment you choose is completely up to you, but keep in mind that it is better to start treatment sooner rather than later. Some forms of treatment take a few months to work and they may not be effective on hair follicles that are already dead versus follicles that are dormant. To help you decide which treatment to try, keep reading to learn more about each option.
Understanding Hair Transplant Surgery
In cases of permanent or severe hair loss, natural hair replacement is a popular treatment. There are several surgical procedures using your own natural hair that can be performed to disguise or treat hair loss. Hair transplant, or hair plugs, is the most common. This treatment involves harvesting DHT-resistant hairs from the sides or back of the scalp and grafting them into the balding area. Generally fairly effective in men with androgenetic alopecia, hair plugs unfortunately won’t work if you have diffuse or widespread thinning or hair loss – you’ll just be moving DHT-sensitive hair from one part of the scalp to another.
Though surgical hair restoration is widely regarded as safe, any surgery comes with certain risks and the recovery process can be long and painful. For the best results, you’ll likely need multiple treatments and you’ll need to heal for 2 to 4 months between sessions. By the time all is said and done, you’ll have spent somewhere in the range of $4,000 to $15,000.
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The cost of hair transplants will depend to some degree on the exact procedure you choose. Follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) is a procedure in which the surgeon removes a 6-to-10-inch strip of donor skin from the back of your head and then divides it into 500 to 2,000 tiny grafts, each containing one or a few hairs which will then be implanted in your scalp. He’ll also need to stitch up the back of your head, though the incision will be covered by your existing hairline. The other option is follicular unit extraction (FUE hair restoration) which involves harvesting individual follicles.
In most cases, the entire hair transplantation surgery will take between 4 and 8 hours. In the days that follow, you should expect your scalp to feel very tender and you’ll need pain medications as well as anti-inflammatory or antibiotic drugs. You may be able to return to work between 2 and 5 days after the procedure, but you may not see noticeable new growth for another 6 to 9 months. Some doctors recommend using minoxidil to improve hair growth, but the effects are still being studied.
What is Laser Hair Restoration?
If surgery is too invasive for you, or if you aren’t a good candidate for the procedure, you still have options – one of them is laser hair therapy. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive procedure that could help to slow, stop, and even reverse your hair loss. How does it work?
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Low-level laser therapy involves targeting infrared light to dormant hair follicles. The light itself is a specific wavelength (between 630 and 670 nanometers) which can be easily absorbed by the hair follicles. By stimulating the follicles to shift from the dormant phase into the anagen, or growth phase, LLLT effectively reverses hair loss. As the damaged hair follicles grow stronger and thicker, increased blood flow to the area provides the nutrients needed to produce healthy hair growth.
The beauty of LLLT is that not only is it painless, but it is FDA-approved. You’ll need to undergo 2 to 3 sessions per week for two or three months before you really see the difference, but each session only takes about 10 to 15 minutes and they cost as low as $50 each. This form of therapy is most effective for androgenetic alopecia – it won’t work on hair follicles that are already dead. For this reason, you should start therapy as soon as you notice hair loss and you may want to combine it with a topical application that will boost circulation to the scalp.
Medical Treatments for Hair Loss
If you don’t want to deal with the pain of hair plugs or the cost of laser hair therapy, you still have some options available. There are two medications which have been proven effective for hair loss in men with excellent results. Minoxidil (more commonly known as Rogaine) is a topical application you can apply to your scalp to slow or even stop hair loss – it may also stimulate new growth. Finasteride (known by the brand name Propecia) is a prescription medication that blocks the conversion of testosterone into DHT, thus slowing hair loss and improving hair growth. The combination of these two medications is what has been proven one of the most effective treatments for men’s hair loss.
Originally developed as a blood pressure medication, minoxidil was found to stimulate hair growth on certain parts of the body. Eventually the formula was reworked and turned into a topical application that could be applied directly to the scalp to stimulate hair regrowth. This treatment is available in 2% and 5% concentrations – the former is designed for women and the latter for men. It is deemed most effective in younger men and in men who take it shortly after they start noticing hair loss. The results become compounded over time and will be maintained for as long as you use the product. A three-month’s worth of 5% minoxidil will cost you about $40.
If you want to maximize your hair loss restoration, combine 5% minoxidil with once-daily finasteride. This drug was originally developed as a treatment for enlarged prostate until it was discovered to have the side effect of hair growth. In 1997, the FDA approved a 1mg dosage for the treatment of male pattern baldness. The drug works by inhibiting the enzyme that concerts testosterone into DHT, thus stopping the miniaturization of hair follicles and restoring healthy growth. It does come with a risk for certain side effects such as impotence, erectile dysfunction, dizziness, and headaches, but there are risks for side effects with any medication. This drug is only available by prescription and will cost you somewhere around $30 to $80 for a one-month supply, depending whether you go generic or not.
In addition to the hair replacement procedures and medications discussed in this article, there are also some natural hair loss treatments out there. In another article, we’ll cover natural remedies and alternative treatments for hair loss.