Hair Loss in Men- Treatment Modalities
The hair loss of male-pattern baldness is permanent. As such no treatment is required if one is comfortable with the appearance.
There are two medications approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat male-pattern baldness, minoxidil and propecia (finasteride).
Minoxidil is used topically on the scalp. It may help hair to grow in 20 to 25% of the population, and in the majority it may slow the loss of hair. Treatment is expensive, however, costing about $600 per year for the recommended twice a day use. The higher concentration minoxidil works better. Hair loss recurs when its use is discontinued.
Propecia (Finasteride) is the only oral medication that is approved by FDA for male pattern baldness. It inhibits the production of the hormone that contributes to male pattern baldness. About 50% of the men who take this drug have increased hair growth in one year. In general, it is more effective than minoxidil. If hair growth is going to occur with the use of finasteride, it usually occurs after the medicine has been used for about 3 months and lasts only as long as the medicine continues to be used. The new hair will be lost within 1 year after finasteride treatment is stopped, though the rate of hair loss may not vary that much. It has no major effect on testosterone level in the body. Only about 1.8 percent of the men who take this drug may experience sexual dysfunction.
Other less common side effects of finasteride include-
- Abdominal pain
- back pain
- decreased libido (decreased interest in sex)
- decreased volume of ejaculate (decreased amount of semen)
- impotence (inability to have or keep an erection)
- skin rash
- swelling of lips
- Testicular pain etc.
Another treatment option is hair transplantation.
Hair transplants consist of removing tiny plugs of hair from areas where the hair is continuing to grow and placing them in areas that are balding. This can cause minor scarring in the donor areas, and carries a low risk for skin infection. The procedure usually requires multiple transplantation sessions and may be expensive.
Suturing of hairpieces to the scalp is not recommended as it can result in scars, infections, and abscess of the scalp or brain. The FDA banned the use of hair implants made of artificial fibers because of the high rate of infection.
Hair weaving, hairpieces, or change of hairstyle may disguise the hair loss. This is usually the less expensive and safer treatment for male-pattern baldness.