The Definitive Guide to Treating Hair Loss

Part 1

Hair Loss Treatment Options

(Last Updated: November 2016)

WHY IS THIS THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE?

This guide discusses the different options patients have to treating hair loss, how to select appropriate treatment that will ensure the best possible results, and further recommendations of products duly approved by Global Hair Loss Association. The selection is a wide-range of available treatments and remedies that are known to be effective; however, do proceed with utmost diligence, careful consideration, and caution.

WHAT WILL THIS GUIDE COVER?

The first part of the Treatment Guide covers and expounds on hair loss treatment options, their respective pros and cons, and Global Hair Loss Association’s recommendations on which treatment to choose. Based on our thorough research, we have concluded that the use of oral supplements is proven to be the easiest, safest, and most natural approach to treating hair loss. On the second part, we will be examining the vital elements that you have to consider when selecting the right oral supplement, including the ingredients to look for, to ensure that you choose only the most effective product. To know more about product information, please visit our Medication Comparison page. On the third and final part of this guide, we will provide you with several helpful recommendations that you should do in able to successfully prevent and treat your hair loss.


Skip to: Prescription Pills, Topical Creams, Surgical Hair Transplantations, Oral Supplements

Prescription Pills

There is only one pill approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hair-loss treatment, and this medicine is suitable only to men as it affects the hormone testosterone. Launched by the pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. in 1997, this pill is marketed under the brand name Propecia and is available only by prescription.

Propecia’s main ingredient is a hormone-suppressing synthetic agent called finasteride. Merck, its manufacturer, originally developed this synthetic compound as a treatment for enlarged prostate gland and marketed it under the brand Proscar.

Later, the company discovered hair growth as a side effect in some prostate patients receiving 6 mg of finasteride treatment, and thus came Propecia as a hair-loss treatment.  In the hair-loss solution, however, Merck reduced the dosage to 1 mg taken daily.

Pros

    • Effective – This is a very effective hair loss treatment option, with a success rate for hair growth improvement of around 58 to 66%.
    • Convenient – This is only taken once daily and can be done with or without food. There’s no  reason to forget and intake can be done wherever you are.

Cons

    • Slow – Improvements will only be visible after 6 to 9 months of use. In some cases, people had to wait and take the medication longer.
    • Exclusivity – Only men are allowed to take this because the drug’s effects may pose risk to pregnant and lactating women, children, and women of childbearing age. It is advised that physical contact with this medicine be avoided by those enumerated because of the lasting damage it can cause. The skin can easily absorb the pigment inside the tablet if somehow the tablet gets damaged. Consult your doctor immediately if you come in contact with crushed or broken tablets.
    • Side Effects – Finastride increases the risk of depression due to neurosteroids, certain birth defects through abnormal genitalia formation, and some types of prostate cancer. It is known to decrease fertility, and often causes dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting. Another common disadvantage is a decrease in sexual desire, libido, and drive. This is because this drug inhibits the body’s production of the androgen hormone DHT that plays a vital role in sexuality and sexual development in males. You will also be restricted from donating blood for at least a month after your last dosage; this is to block women from contact through blood transfusion. Also, Finastride usually interferes with PSA and other certain types of lab test results.
    • No Other Medications – The continued use of topical treatments and other medications alongside prescription pills is not advised.

Recommendation

It is never a good thing when the cons outweigh the pros. Some physicians even consider these types of drugs too dangerous to prescribe. We, at the Global Hair Loss Organization, do not recommend a remedy that is not completely safe for public consumption.

 Topical Solutions

Credits to: Rejuvenate Hair Clinics

The only other hair-loss solution that has been approved by the FDA is the topically-applied minoxidil (with Rogaine as the most popular brand). Applied on the scalp, it can be used not only by balding men, but also by women with the same problem as well.

This product was first marketed in 1988 as a prescription-only solution solely for male patients. In 1992, a female Rogaine version was launched, and four years later, both brands were approved as over-the-counter medications.

Subsequent product innovations followed, first with the introduction of a higher-dose, extra-strength version in 1997. Johnson & Johnson acquired the brand in 2006, after which the company developed a Rogaine foam version for men. In 2010, an unscented men’s foam formula was introduced, which was followed by the launch of a women’s Rogaine foam in 2014.

This treatment is done by dispensing enough cream/foam to cover parts of the scalp with thinner hair, applying thoroughly and massaging the product onto the surface of the scalp, and letting your hair air-dry. The results are not immediate, however. It will take 4 months of daily use to see results and hair re-growth.

Pros

    • No Scent – Most solutions are unscented and perfect for use even when you have to be somewhere.
    • Flexible – No need to change your usual morning routine with creams. Just make sure to apply topical medication first, and let it sit dry before applying other styling products.
    • Long Shelf Life – This is ideal for people who want to buy products in advance and have them stored for future use.
    • Worth The Money – Usually, a tube lasts up to a month of daily use.

Cons

    • Initial Increase in Hair Loss – It gets worse before it gets better. Increased hair loss occurs for the first two weeks of use and will subside thereafter. This is because the scalp is making way for new hair by pushing out old hairs. This is only temporary. However, the shedding may well affect a person’s confidence.
    • Side Effects – Some may experience irritation, a dry, itchy scalp, and development of unwanted facial hair during continued use.
    • Discontinued Use Will Cause Hair Loss – Consistent and continued use of topical treatment is necessary to keep and increase hair growth. Hair loss is guaranteed to take place if use is discontinued.

 Recommendation

Topical creams are a strong contender in hair loss treatment options. However, with the amount of cons and the effects these entail, it can be decided that there are better alternatives.

 Surgical Hair Procedures

Hair transplantation, however painful or invasive, has a 49% of success rate according to a survey reported by WebMD. This can be done in one of many ways, the top three being hair follicle replication, hair cloning, and hair grafting.

Hair follicle replication, also known as scalp micropigmentation, is used to replicate the appearance of hair. Using needles and specialized medical pigments, this involves a very detailed process wherein the shape, color, and size of a person’s follicle is replicated. The replication process is repeated tens of thousands of times. Although often confused with hair tattoo, this procedure is entirely different as it isn’t as invasive. Tattooing goes three layers deep while this process only goes for the first scalp layer. The tattoo ink also turns either green or blue overtime because of its undertones; this, however, produces a head full of hair that will fool even the cleverest of barbers as it uses a special pigment that paves way for the illusion. This does not really treat hair loss though as it does not facilitate hair regrowth nor does it halt hair shedding. It merely addresses the aesthetic concerns of those who are going through hair loss.

Hair multiplication, commonly known as hair cloning, is one of the newer techniques in the business. The patient is examined, and healthy hair follicles (called dermal papillae) that are found in the non-bald spots of his body are extracted. These are then cloned and injected back into the bald scalp. This would help them produce healthy, newly grown hair. Various culturing methods are used in follicle multiplication to ensure the best ones are produced in uniformity. This is the least known option out of the three because it is still in its research phase. Test subjects have proven how effective this method may be though, as results have been very promising right from its beginning stages.

Hair grafting or hair transplantation is the most accepted means of hair replication today; although, researchers argue it may not be the best. Not only is it the most invasive (out of the three), it is also the most painful (even with the use of anaesthetics). While it is naturally not as invasive as other options not mentioned, it is still considered risky because of its side effects like hair loss (shock loss) and bald patches. There may also be swelling involved. However, its efficiency and promising streak is impeccable. This surgical technique uses two parts of the body as its main sites, one being the donor, the other being the recipient. Grafts containing hair follicles are collected from the donor site. This can be a 6- to 10-inch skin strip from the back of a patient’s head, which is usually the part of the body genetically resistant to balding. The grafts extracted and used are the hair follicles genetically resistant to balding. This strip of scalp is then divided into 500 to 2,000 tiny grafts, each with a few hairs or just an individual hair. With the grafts prepared, the surgeon numbs and cleans the bald spot (the recipient site) where the hair will go. Each graft will be delicately placed on slits or holes prepared using a needle or scalpel. The procedure is simple and has a hundred percent chance of producing satisfying results if done correctly.

Pros

    • Success Rate – This procedure has high chances of producing satisfying results if done correctly.
    • Cost-Effective – Because of its long-term results, this is considered more cost-effective than prescription pills or topical creams which require continuous use. There are no recurring treatments necessary to maintain the appearance of fully re-grown hair
    • Natural Hair Re-growth – The procedure replicates existing hair follicles and allows for natural hair re-growth.

Cons

    • Invasive – It is a surgery, after all. This can be very painful even with the use of anaesthetic and can cause shock loss and bald spots.
    • Swelling – Usually, after surgery, there is swelling involved because of the amount of pressure inflicted on the patient’s scalp.
    • Scarring – The swelling will most likely result to scarring after a select period of time. This especially happens when hair follicles die before hair re-growth even occurs.
    • Costly – All the kinds of surgery discussed above are expensive. You will also probably have to undergo several sessions of transplantation before you achieve your desired result.
    • Possibility of Infection – Because there will be several hundreds or thousands of slits or holes created for the transplant, these open wounds are highly susceptible to infections.
    • Limited – Hair transplantation is not an appropriate treatment for some types of hair loss condition like Alopecia areata and those caused by psoriasis, skin infections, and lupus.
    • Slow Results – It may take 6 to 9 months before you see around 60% of new hair regrowth.
    • Additional Treatment Needed – After the surgery, your doctor would still prescribe drugs for inducing hair-growth.

Recommendation

It is wise to consult with your doctor before going under the knife and deciding on something life-changing. Surgical hair transplant can be effective, but also rather excruciating. It is not recommended for the fainthearted and those not willing to go through such length.

 Oral Supplements

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Certain vitamins and minerals naturally found in select food items prevent hair loss and promote healthy hair growth. More often than not though, you’re not getting enough of these nutrients in your diet needed to prevent or treat hair loss. In this case, it is wise to take effective and recommended oral supplements. Good oral supplements are those which are not only developed to strengthen hair from breakage, but also to prevent hair loss. Great food supplements include those rich in Vitamin A, B, C, E, Niacin, Iron, Zinc, and Biotin which protects and strengthens our hair. For more potency, the best hair loss oral supplements also contain herbal extracts from natural herbs that are targeted to preventing and treating hair loss — like horsetail, nettle leaf, pumpkin seed, and saw palmetto berry.

Pros

    • Fast – See visible results in as quick as two months.
    • Effective – It addresses nutritional deficiencies in the body that causes hair loss when you’re not getting enough from your daily diet and when you’re losing a lot of the essential nutrients because of stress, long hours of work, exhaustive physical activities, and medical conditions. The best brands also block the production of DHT (which is the cause of 95% of all hair loss cases).
    • Natural and Safe – Most oral supplements for hair loss are made from natural ingredients so you are guaranteed that you will not cause your body any harm due to chemicals, fillers, or binders.
    • Pain-Free – It is non-invasive. You would not undergo a painful operation. You would not have to go through a period where you have open wounds.
    • Convenient – No complicated procedures are necessary in this treatment. Just take your supplement once/twice daily (depending on your chosen supplement), and that’s it.
    • Cost-Efficient – It is far from being costly, and it doesn’t just address hair loss, it also nourishes the body with vitamins it needs for other functions. So you’re getting more than what you’re paying for in every tablet.
    • Stronger Nails – Because your supplements are overflowing with vitamins, it will make your nails grow stronger as well.
    • Clearer Skin – In terms of stretch marks and faded scars, supplements can help you have healthier, clearer skin since it also helps get rid of bad toxins.

Cons

    • Breakouts– Biotin oral supplements advertised to treat hair loss were reported to have the effects of causing acne. This only happens when there is excessive amounts of Biotin ingested in the body because it triggers a vitamin B5-deficiency. Vitamin B5 is responsible for regulating acne breakouts in the skin. However, the best kinds of oral supplements for treating hair loss do not actually have any known side-effect at all because of their precise formulation for each of their ingredient (Biotin and Vitamin B5 included). When choosing for an oral supplement, look for a formulation that has almost all of the vitamins discussed in our Education Page (and not just Biotin). This will guarantee a good balance of nutrients that will not cause any harm on the body.

Recommendation

This is the most effective way of treating hair loss. It is not invasive, and if chosen carefully, oral supplements will have no side effects, particularly those which are guaranteed to contain natural ingredients only. These vitamins can also be good for your skin and nails. If you do your due diligence in choosing the oral supplement you will take, you won’t encounter any problem at all and will work 100% of the time.

Remember:

It is important to choose the appropriate treatment for hair loss as this is a condition that affects not only your physical appearance, but more importantly, your psychological and emotional well-being. Some of the effects these treatments have may be irreversible and would ultimately impact your self-confidence, your social relationships, your career, and potentially every aspect of your life.

NEXT UP: How to Select the Most Effective Hair Loss Oral Supplement…

After analyzing the pros and cons of each treatment option, it is now clear that oral supplements offer a safe and effective means for treating hair loss. Pills, topical solutions, and surgical hair transplants might not always be the most appropriate treatment, as hair issues can generally be addressed successfully and naturally just with proper or adequate body nourishment.

It can therefore be concluded that the safest way to go about treating hair loss is by taking oral supplements. The con has very little effect on the overall health of the patient and may be avoided altogether if you choose your oral supplement very carefully.

To help you make the most informed decision in choosing what oral supplement to take, the second part of this Treatment Guide will guide you on what you should look for to ensure quality.