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Medical Treatment

Medical treatments for hair loss are a non-surgical hair restoration option which can be used on their own or in conjunction with hair transplant surgery.

There are two US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications which have proven effective as a hair loss treatment in more than 80% of male users with hair loss. HRBR can advise you about these medicines and their usage.


How Minoxidil (Regaine) works

Minoxidil or Regaine (the brand name for Minoxidil) is the very first medication that has been clinically proven to grow human hair when applied. However, while it can help regrowth on the crown or top of the head, it has a limited effect on the area at the front of the hairline, which is the area of greatest concern to the majority of men with male pattern baldness.

Minoxidil is most beneficial in the first two years of use, and gradually decreases in effectiveness beyond that timeframe. Regaine, which should be used on a daily basis in order to remain effective, can be purchased without a prescription from pharmacies or recommended online sources.


Facts about Regaine

Medical treatment for hair loss - how it worksWith time, men using Minoxidil continue to bald, although at a somewhat slower rate.

It is believed that the effects brought about by Regaine may only be temporary and that once the drug is stopped, the previous pattern of hair loss resumes. Any effects gradually disappear within 2 to 3 months, even if the medication has been used for a prolonged period. This same limitation applies to other drugs used for hair loss.

Regaine for women

Even though the early studies involving Regaine were conducted on balding men, it seems that Regaine may actually be more effective on women. Indeed, Regaine is the only medication for women with female pattern hair loss approved by the US FDA. Similar to the case for men, Regaine is only modestly effective in restoring hair and it does not appear to work in older, post-menopausal women

Cost of Regaine

Regaine or Minoxidil costs approximately £40 per month and is widely available over-the-counter in pharmacies or online.

FDA Approved Medication

HRBR doctors often prescribe an FDA approved tablet which blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the form of the hormone that causes male pattern baldness. It has been available in the UK for over 25 years and widely used during this time. The actions of these two medications do appear to work together and the use of both, rather than one, may be advantageous, particularly in young people.

Due to the fact that a large number (in excess of 50) generic brands of the 5mg tablet are available, the cost of this medication has dropped dramatically in recent years and many if not most users of the medicine for hair loss choose to quarter the generic 5 mg tablet in order to achieve a financial saving of in excess of 90%.

Long-term benefits

After two years, results showed that 83% of the men taking the medicine either kept their hair or grew more. 17% continued to lose hair while taking the medication.

The effects of the medicine are confined to areas of the scalp where hair is thinning, it does not seem to stimulate hair in areas that are completely bald. Therefore, the major benefit seems to be in its ability to slow down or stop hair loss, or improve the quality of hair in parts of the scalp that are thinning.

The long-term ability of the medicine to maintain one’s hair is unknown. Results generally peak around one year and then are stable in the second year or decrease very slightly.

Medical treatment and hair transplantation

The medication has been shown to be a useful addition to surgical hair restoration for a number of reasons; it works best in the younger patient who may not yet be a candidate for hair transplantation; it is less effective in the front part of the scalp – the area where surgical hair restoration can offer the greatest cosmetic improvement, it can regrow or stabilize hair loss in the crown where hair transplantation may not always be advised due to limited donor hair.

An estimated 1 million men in the United States take the medicine daily. Most men taking the medicine experienced an increase in hair count, a decrease in hair loss, and an improvement in appearance. It is important, however, to have realistic expectations as results take time. If you are not willing to commit to taking this medication for at least 12 months, it’s probably not worth starting.

Secondly, it must be taken on an ongoing basis to maintain the benefit. Those who benefit from both the surgical and medical treatments are most likely in the long run to achieve the best cosmetic result. In addition, men who are already very bald are less likely to benefit from taking it because the hair follicles may not be salvageable. Men who have early thinning in the back and top have a better chance to see some benefit, but as noted above, only for as long as they continue taking the medication.

Further information on FDA approved medications for hair loss is available from the manufacturers, Merck Sharp and Dohme, or from the electronic medicines compendium.

Talk to our specialist team now about your treatment options

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