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Hair Treatment Options – Replacement, OTC Drugs and Prescription Drugs

Hair Treatment Options

If you are facing severe hair loss problems and natural hair loss remedies not worked for you, than you can try one or more of these treatment options by consulting with an expert.

While a new hairstyle, a wig or a hairpiece may help to hide hair loss, many would also prefer effective treatments to stop hair loss. Page has in-depth details on multiple hair loss treatment options available.

Word of Caution on Hair-loss Treatment

Hair is the fastest growing tissue of the body, made up of proteins called keratins. Every strand of hair is made up of three layers: the inner layer or medulla (only present in thick hairs); the middle layer or cortex, which determines the strength, texture, and color of hair; and the cuticle, which protects the cortex.

Hair grows from roots, which are enclosed in follicles. Below this is a layer of skin called the dermal papilla, which is fed by the bloodstream carrying nourishment vital to the growth of hair. Only the roots of hair are actually alive, while the visible part of hair is dead tissue, and therefore unable to heal itself. It is vital then to take care of the scalp and body in order to perpetuate hair growth and maintenance.

Expensive treatments that claim to treat the visible hair and nourish it therefore are usually no more than bogus claims made to sell products.

Hair Replacement and Restoration Techniques

There has been a great deal of progress in the field of hair replacement and restoration in the past few years. Surgical techniques have improved greatly from the days when hair replacement first began.

All hair replacement techniques involve the use of your own hair; therefore, hair replacement candidates must have some healthy hair, usually at the back and sides of the head. The process is a relatively safe procedure when performed by a qualified surgeon, however as with any surgery there are risks.

Types of hair replacement grafts

Small pieces of hair growing scalp grafts are removed from areas of the scalp with healthy hair and are placed where hair is thinning. There are three major types of grafts:

  1. punch grafts
  2. mini-grafts
  3. micro-grafts

Punch grafting takes about 10-15 hairs and places them in the scalp. This was the first type of technique to be developed, and when first developed caused a patchy look in many candidates. The technique has been improved since the first days of being developed, and the new mini-graft technique has also been added as an option.

Mini-grafts contain only 2-4 hairs per graft, and therefore look much more natural.

Micro-grafts are still smaller grafts that contain one to two hairs each. To maintain healthy circulation of the scalp, grafts are placed 1/8th of an inch apart.

Local anesthesia is usually sufficient for these procedures, and several procedures are usually required to achieve the desired result. Post-surgery, a period of approximately 10 days of no sexual or strenuous activity is recommended, as strenuous activity may cause bleeding from the graft areas.

Risks associated with hair replacement

Candidates must be checked for uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood-clotting problems, or skin that scars excessively, as these conditions may make healing difficult.

Of course surgery is a serious option, and often an expensive one as well. For those not wishing to undergo surgery for either reason, the option of non-surgical hair additions is often explored. Many professionals have developed techniques to add hair to existing hair on your scalp that look very natural. Weaves, fusions, bonding, cabling and
micro linking are some of the techniques used to bond hair to the existing hair or scalp non-surgically.

Wigs and toupees as alternatives

Many jokes were made in the past about wigs and toupees, and they have gained an unfavorable light amongst many people because they were so obvious on the wearer.

Colorful hair wigs

However, today’s toupees and wigs are often made of real hair and are very well styled, causing them to look more natural on the wearer. These hairpieces are held in place by affixing adhesive to the scalp and stay in place through vigorous exercise. Of course you will need to seek a professionally made toupee in order to make it worth your while, and you should purchase at least two so that you can maintain them properly, servicing one while wearing the other.

A professionally styled and fitted toupee is expected to cost upward of $600 to $1000 in today’s market. Of course no one wants to go through the embarrassment of wearing the obvious “rug” on top of your head, so if you are not willing to spend the money it takes to purchase a professional toupee then it is probably best to not wear any hairpiece at all.

Structured hairpieces

Structured hairpieces as they are called are a semi-surgical approach that permanently attaches hair to the scalp by stitching the hair to the bald scalp. This procedure is not recommended, as it is a process that involves introducing a foreign material to the scalp. Most ethical surgeons do not perform this procedure any longer as they are generally deemed to be ethically inappropriate. If this procedure is recommended to you, get a second opinion from a trusted physician.

Hair weaving (hair intensification or hair integration)

A much safer procedure is hair weaving, yet this can only be used if hair is thinning and large balding areas are not present. The process is also called hair intensification or hair integration. Strands of synthetic or real hair are braided or weaved into your own existing hair giving an appearance of a full head of hair.

This procedure does have its drawbacks, because it can make the scalp difficult to access, interfering with proper hair and scalp maintenance necessary for the health of your remaining natural hair, and this method can also stress existing hair since the artificial hair introduced through weaving is attached to it. This method is usually expensive, costing several thousand dollars per application, and being that because of the aforementioned drawbacks it can only be left in for a few weeks at a time it is usually impractical for the average person.

Tips while choosing your hairpiece

  • It is highly recommended that one seek professional assistance with these procedures from licensed beauticians or barbers, and have a patch test done to the skin if using adhesives to test for skin sensitivities.
  • Extra care must be taken to maintain cleanliness of the hair and scalp when wearing added hair in order to maintain the health of existing hair and the scalp in general.
  • Of course, if you are undergoing chemotherapy or are in the early stages of diagnosed alopecia areata then these procedures should be avoided as the hair they are connected to is likely to fall out as well. Either waiting for a period of time or obtaining a full prosthesis is recommended in these cases.

Keratin- spray of micro fibers

Yet still there is another type of treatment which is a spray of micro fibers made up of the same substance that hair is made of: keratin. If your hair is simply thinning, while you are investigating a more permanent solution to your hair loss problems or in the process of employing a particular process that takes some time, you can use these substances to cosmetically produce the appearance of thicker and fuller hair.

The substance is marketed under several different names, one such being Topik®. Being a temporary solution it is relatively inexpensive, and can provide some immediate aesthetic results to bolster confidence and optimism as you work on more permanent solutions.

Over The Counter Treatments

The most popular over-the-counter hair restoration drug today is Rogaine®, a brand of topical monoxidil solution by Pfizer Corporation, approved for over the counter sale in 1997 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

History of Monoxidil OTC drug

Monoxidil was originally used as a blood pressure medication, and then doctors found that it produced the side effect of increased scalp hair growth.

In the preliminary studies held in 1985, 55% of men tested were able to re-grow hair with extra strength Rogaine® (5% topical monoxidil treatment), although the best results came from those who had been balding for less than 10 years and were bald in a section of four inches across or less.

Study on effectiveness of Rogaine

Another test study compared the results of regular strength Rogaine® (2% topical monoxidil solution) with the extra strength version, and found that subjects grew 45% more hair with the extra strength Rogaine® than with the regular strength Rogaine®, and users of both solutions outgrew the users of the placebo. Only 6% of those tested experienced any type of irritation. Rogaine® works by blocking the production of DHT.

Rogaine topical solution

Of course there are generic brands of topical monoxidil solution also on the market. Rogaine® was originally made only for men’s use, and then a women’s version of the drug was produced. Similar results were achieved with the women’s version. As with both men’s and women’s versions, users must take note that continuous use of the drug is necessary to maintain the newly grown hair, as it is a usual reaction for newly growing hair to stop growing and fall out when one ceases to use the drug.

As with any drug, follow all directions and cease to use if irritation or discomfort persists.

Do you really want to eat OTC drugs for stopping hair loss?

Of course many people choose not to use drugs to treat conditions, because they want to avoid the use of chemicals and their possible side effects. In this case, there are several treatments in existence that have been found to block the production of DHT and thus work similarly to topical monoxidil products.

As mentioned earlier, Saw Palmetto has been used effectively to block DHT in the treatment of prostatic disease, and is now being explored for its effectiveness in stimulating hair growth. Traditionally it has been used by herbalists to stimulate hair growth effectively. Nettles, usually taken in the form of Nettle Root Extract has shown itself to be effective in preventing hair loss as well.

More information on these was covered in the section called Natural Hair Remedies.

Prescription Drug Treatments

While topical solutions such as Rogaine® brand monoxidil have been used to treat hair loss, Propecia® brand Finasteride by Merck & Company, Inc. is FDA approved pill for the prevention of hair loss and possible hair re-growth.

History of Propecia drug

Like Rogaine®, Propecia® was discovered when its generic equivalent being used for another purpose was found to have beneficial side effects. Finasteride is the generic name for the drug, which was already in existence for quite some time and had been produced under the name Proscar® by Merck & Company and used for treatment of enlarged prostates, a syndrome medically called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Finpecia drug from India is one of the Cheapest Propecia
Finpecia drug from India is one of the Cheapest Propecia

BPH is caused by an overproduction of DHT, which causes the prostate to grow. Many BHP patients were also suffering with MPB, and when patients began taking Proscar®, they noticed the re-growth of hair also. This sparked new testing and the birth of Propecia® as a hair restoration drug.

The approval of Propecia® by the FDA was easy to achieve, since it was merely marketing already approved Finasteride as a hair restoration drug, with a much smaller dosage than that required for BPH.

Propecia drug prescription for men and women

Propecia® is being prescribed by doctors to some patients as an oral treatment to internally block the production of DHT. Propecia is an androgen hormone inhibitor only approved for men, and has been clinically proven to grow hair on a significant percentage of men who suffer with Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) or more properly androgenetic alopecia.

Unfortunately, the drug has not been approved for use by women at this time. This is especially true for women who are pregnant or can become pregnant, because the process of inhibiting testosterone from being converted to DHT can affect secondary sex characteristics of unborn fetuses.

Propecia® works by reversing the shrinkage of hair follicles that are in the telogen phase, or last phase of the normal hair cycle. Propecia® works best in combination with topical treatments of Monoxidil such as Rogaine®. Participants in studies have seen hair grow in as little as six months, whereas those who have seen no results in a year’s time are reported not likely to see any results from the drug. One round of testing of over 2,000 men with androgenetic lopecia over a four-year period showed half with reported new hair growth.

Side effects of Propecia

Side effects of Propecia® in a few persons studied include diminished sex drive, difficulty in achieving an erection, and a decreased sperm production. Side effects were found in less than three percent of participants in clinical studies. Fortunately when the drug’s use was discontinued, the side effects went away and normal functions resumed. Of course there are some who say that the growth of new hair is worth the cost of a drop in libido. Only you can decide whether this side effect is worth the personal cost to you.

  • Finasteride is metabolized primarily by the liver, and therefore anyone suffering with liver disease may not be able to take the drug, and should consult a physician.
  • Additionally, as with Monoxidil, it can mask PSA levels, thus caution should be used if used by patients with elevated PSA levels, as it may be difficult to read levels properly when diagnosing potential prostate cancer. Of course proper consultation with your physician will help determine if taking Finasteride treatments such as Propecia® is right for you.
  • An interesting phenomena concerning Propecia® is the dramatic rise in price it caused for Finasteride when it entered the market as a hair restoration drug. Propecia® is simply a 1mg version of Finasteride, a drug that was already being marketed as Proscar® for BPH by the same company that markets Propecia®, Merck & Company, Inc.

Doctors of course are discouraged by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe Proscar for cosmetic treatment of
androgenetic alopecia. Of course there are always going to be those who find ways to circumvent this. Therefore, many have been driven to find ways to purchase Proscar® and divide the pill into fourths or fifths instead of paying the exorbitant prices for the very same Finasteride.

Conclusions

While there are multiple treatment options available for stopping hair loss, it is for individuals to decide which option best suits them. In all cases, natural remedy is the best course. If that does not work, then other options need to be considered. Of course, decide by consulting an expert.

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