Modern surgical solutions for pattern hair loss involve the transplantation of hair follicles from areas of the scalp where the hair is still lush to the thinning areas on the scalp. The most
common procedure involves harvesting intact follicles from the areas where growth is thicker and implanting them into tiny incisions made into the thinning areas. The results are often good, but obviously vary with the
skill of the individual performing the procedure.
The drawback is that the transplanted follicles can be affected by the levels of dihydrotestosterone in the thinning areas of the scalp and the hair loss is not stopped. This is obviously not
a permanent solution.
Scientific research into the study of pattern hair loss has developed two medications that have been shown to allow formerly lost hair to be regrown. The first of these is a drug called
minoxodil (commonly seen under the brand name, Rogaine) and the other is finasteride (known by the brand name Propecia).
Minoxidil is available over the counter and approved for use by men and women to treat androgenetic alopecia. It is generally found as a liquid of foam that is applied topically to the scalp
twice daily. For some, Minoxidil results in a slowing of the rate of hair loss and/or regrowth of the hair. The regrown hairs may be thinner and shorter than the hair was previously, but for some people the regrowth is
sufficient to hide their balding and thinning spots.
It can take as much as 12 weeks to see any results and the new growth will cease soon after stopping the treatment. In most cases, a patient who sees minimal results will be advised to stop
using the drug after six months, since side effects can include irritation of the scalp.
Finasteride is a drug taken orally in a pill form and is only approved for use by men. In fact, women are cautioned against even handling the pills (particularly women of childbearing age as
it can cause severe birth defects in male offspring). As with minoxidil, positive results from the finasteride treatment can take time to be evident – in fact, sometimes several months – but many men find the hair loss
slowed and even get regrowth of the hair.
The drug works by preventing the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, and as with minoxidil, if you stop taking the drug, the benefits will dissipate, including the loss of
any regrown hairs. Because of the way in which the drug works, there is the chance (rare) of side effects such as diminished sex drive and sexual function. Some men also develop a low increase in the risk of developing