Hair loss is a stressful experience whether temporary or permanent. It can cause serious trauma and deep emotional distress. Some people also experience low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. As a result, one may need to see an in-person therapist to help deal with hair loss. Even so, other people opt for online therapy for support. Therapy normally helps manage feelings of loss, grief, shame, and sadness. On this note, therapy is an option worth exploring if your hair loss problem adversely affects your normal daily life.
At the same time, it is important to understand the differences between hair loss and hair shedding before examining the various treatment options. Hair loss generally refers to alopecia, a condition that disrupts normal hair production. It is different from hair shedding, which is a normal process that involves shedding 50-100 hairs daily. In hair shedding, hair still regrows from the affected follicle. It is often not the same hair loss because diseases such as androgenetic alopecia damage follicles. As a result, new hair does not grow or may take longer to develop.
Hair Loss Treatment Options, their Advantages, and Disadvantages
Hair loss requires you to begin proper treatment right away to improve your prognosis. Timely treatment helps prevent further hair loss, protects healthy hair follicles, and stimulates hair regrowth in the affected areas. Normally, a dermatologist aids in diagnosing the exact cause and choosing the best hair loss treatment. The treatments highlighted below can help you understand what to expect. Their advantages and disadvantages can also enable you to settle for the most effective and safest treatment.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a type of hormone often linked with hair loss or male pattern baldness. Dutasteride is one of the medications that help reduce DHT levels in the body and protect against male hair loss. Clinicians usually prescribe this drug off-label, implying that it is not FDA-approved for treating male pattern baldness.
Even so, it is more effective than alternative medical treatment. Evidence shows that dutasteride is far better than finasteride in treating male hair loss. It also helps slow down hair loss and regrow hair in people with male pattern baldness.
Despite these benefits, dutasteride has various disadvantages. First, it causes more severe side effects compared to alternative treatments. It leads to low libido or sexual drive. It also makes it difficult for you to get and maintain an erection. In addition, it might trigger ejaculation disorders. Dutasteride might further increase the likelihood of prostate cancer progression for persons who take it for a long period. These side effects make dutasteride a less desirable option for young and sexually active men.
Finasteride is another medication deemed highly effective in treating hair loss. Unlike dutasteride, it has FDA approval for the treatment of hair loss in men but not women. As a result, women struggling with hair loss normally get an off-label prescription of this drug.
The greatest advantage of finasteride is that it improves the total hair count in just 48 weeks. It also undoes the hair loss process and increases the density and length of the hair in the affected region.
However, finasteride has several disadvantages. The existing evidence suggests that this drug causes similar adverse reactions as dutasteride. As such, sexual dysfunction remains a huge concern with this medication.
Current research shows that it might lead to impotence or erectile dysfunction in men. These adverse sexual reactions often persist long after stopping treatment. One may take a few months or years to regain sexual function. About 20 percent of those with male pattern hair loss do not recoup their sexual function for six years or more despite discontinuing finasteride.
In addition, finasteride can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. On this note, it raises serious reproductive health concerns when prescribed to young and sexually active men.
Minoxidil is a common treatment for androgenetic alopecia. It has received FDA approval for managing this condition. This drug is available in topical (2% and 5% solutions) and pill form (oral medication). Unlike the topical solution, the FDA has not approved oral minoxidil for treating hair loss.
Normally, oral minoxidil achieves better hair regrowth than 5% minoxidil solution. It also leads to a significant increase in the terminal hair count. Thus, it is more likely to improve hair density and ensure the head is full of mature hair.
Topical minoxidil also promotes hair regrow in just 6-12 months. It further helps stimulate hair regrowth in the vertex and frontal scalp area. However, better results occur in the vertex than anywhere else on the scalp.
Despite these benefits, using minoxidil for hair loss treatment has a couple of disadvantages. For instance, it might trigger contact or irritant dermatitis on the scalp. In addition, stopping treatment with minoxidil leads to progressive hair loss in just 12-24 weeks. Thus, one must continue treatment indefinitely to maintain good hair density and prevent progressive hair loss.
A hair transplant is the best hair loss treatment option. It is often regarded as hair restoration or hair replacement. It is a more permanent solution and often yields a natural look.
People with hair loss must meet specific conditions to increase the chances of a successful hair transplant. For instance, they must have adequate healthy hair on their scalp to facilitate the process. The surgeon performing a hair transplant should also have proper skill and experience for a higher success rate.
A hair transplant or restoration procedure involves getting healthy hairs from one region of the scalp and moving them to a bald or thinning area. It usually leads to thicker-looking hair and is best recommended for people with inherited permanent baldness. Those with alopecia areata should not have a hair transplant.
Despite the many benefits, a hair transplant is expensive and usually costs $5000-$20000 depending on the number of grafts, the surgeon’s charges, and other fees. Although hair transplants can last a lifetime, hair loss may still occur. Progressive hair loss can lead to a patchy hair appearance, meaning one might need follow-up transplants to maintain a natural look.
In addition, some transplanted hair follicles might die, suggesting the need for a touch-up procedure to fill areas where new hair does not grow. A low success rate and demand for follow-up transplants in the future might significantly increase the cost of this procedure.
People who have hair transplants also risk developing scarring and infection. They might further experience swelling, pain, and bleeding on the scalp incisions.
Adhering to post-surgery instructions usually improves the success rate of a hair transplant. Undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy before this procedure might boost the chances of success. It also leads to better hair density and faster skin recovery.