Bald is beautiful, but it’s not for everyone. In fact, thinning hair can be a major cause for concern in men of any age. Depending on your health and after ruling out any possible medical complications, men’s hair loss is extremely common. At the age of 50, 85 percent of men see some sort of hair loss – referred to as male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia. Although frequently occurring, hair loss can negatively impact your lifestyle. The primary effect is decreased self-esteem, which has the power to negatively affect your interpersonal relationships, career and overall wellbeing. Many see a full head of hair as a symbol of youth, and losing that part of you can make you feel older than your birth certificate. A full head of hair indicates vitality and strength. For men under 30 losing their hair, lacking these aesthetic traits can be even more disheartening. Luckily, men can choose from four primary treatment options for hair loss. Before you embark on your hair restoration journey, however, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each method.
Hair transplants have come a long way from the “hair plugs” of the past. Qualified surgeons can use advanced technology and art-like procedures to minimize scarring while achieving natural results. While hair restoration surgery is extremely successful for some patients, the costs are high. As with any surgery, there is a small risk of infection or bleeding from the procedure.
Minoxidil, known by the brand-name Rogaine, is an FDA-approved topical foam that varies in effectiveness depending on the patient and the severity of their hair loss. Patients can choose between a 2 percent solution and a 5 percent solution, the latter being the stronger solution. Unfortunately, women are limited to the 2 percent solution since the higher strength formula has not been approved by the FDA for women’s use. The application doesn’t require a doctor’s visit, but using the foam is time-consuming and somewhat messy. Patients can expect results in up to 12 weeks after beginning treatment, and the cost ranges between $15 to $30 per month.
Propecia, or Finasteride, is a prescription that was first approved to treat enlarged prostate glands. Because hair loss is caused by higher-than-usual levels of dihydrotestosterone or DHT, the medicine works by lowering DHT levels and stopping hair loss in some patients. Propecia comes in 1mg and 5mg tablets, and only works through continued use. The cost is around $10 per month.
Unlike surgeries, foams and prescription medications, low-level laser therapy (LLLT) helps both men and women achieve their hair restoration goals. LLLT can be used in conjunction with the aforementioned treatments when approved by a physician. LLLT devices work by reenergizing inactive hair follicles to spark regrowth. Some devices, like laser caps, allow patients to treat their hair loss on-the-go since the cap is hands-free and virtually undetectable. Regardless of how you decide to treat your hair loss, know that you’re not alone. August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month and may be just the time to embark on your hair restoration journey. Rather than allowing your condition to restrain you emotionally and physically, discuss your hair loss with a physician who can help direct you toward a viable, personalized treatment plan.