Hair loss, whether from androgenetic alopecia, an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata, or other factors like stress or illness, is a very common issue that affects both men and women, and that can have detrimental effects on a person’s self-esteem. According to hair loss experts fifty percent of American women experience hair loss and female pattern hair loss, while forty percent of American men begin to start experiencing hair loss and male pattern baldness by age thirty-five and 65% by the age of 60.
While it may seem like a sign of old age, losing your hair can be caused by many different factors, some beyond your control. While a poor diet is not known to be a cause for hair loss, life events like pregnancy, puberty, menopause, emotional trauma, and even shock loss can cause the hair to thin or fall out permanently. Illnesses and health conditions like thyroid disease and iron deficiency anemia are also causes of hair loss and alopecia.
Whatever the reasons may be for losing hair, chances are you’re not feeling comfortable with the idea of becoming bald. Fortunately, there are plenty of treatments that can help patients restore their hair and their confidence. If you’re interested in treatment, take a look at the following options for hair regrowth available today, and learn how you can use them to your advantage.
What Kinds of Hair Restoration Techniques Are There?
There are many hair restoration and hair transplant techniques, and hair loss products on the market today. However, this article focuses on six techniques that have been proven to be the most effective in restoring hair in both male and female patients.
The first treatment on the list is Theradome, which is essentially a laser helmet designed to thicken hair by increasing blood supply to the affected areas. The Theradome procedure utilizes cutting-edge, laser light therapy designed to decrease hair miniaturization and stimulate hair growth. This is done with a helmet that is outfitted with eighty lasers that penetrate 1.5mm deep into the scalp, to successfully reach the hair follicles and stimulate blood flow to the root of where the hair should grow.
A more intrusive technique known as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) uses the patient’s blood to help enhance hair growth. The PRP process collects the patient’s blood and uses a centrifuge to create a high platelet concentrate that is then injected back into the patient’s scalp.
The most recently developed treatment for treating hair loss comes in a pill form called Tofacitinib, or by its brand name, Xeljanz®. Tofacitinib is a Janus kinase (an enzyme) inhibitor that stops hair loss by interfering with the immune processes that attack hair follicles. While the treatment is not FDA-approved for hair loss at the moment, it is approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and is currently being tested in clinical trials for its effectiveness in hair restoration.
One of the easiest techniques for hair loss treatment is known as Dutasteride. Dutasteride is a pill that can be prescribed to both male and female patients that are experiencing the first and earliest stages of hair loss. When taken correctly, Dutasteride has been proven to be extremely beneficial for stopping hair loss in its tracks.
Finasteride, which is known by its brand names Propecia® or Proscar®, is an FDA-approved, male pattern hair loss treatment prescribed just for men that’s also used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate). Finasteride is a type II, 5a reductase inhibitor that decreases serum and scalp levels of DHT. The treatment helps to increase the thickness of the hair and speeds up hair growth, and in some cases can also stimulate a new, high level of hair growth.
Perhaps the most popular treatment on this list, Minoxidil (also known as Rogaine®), is usually the first go-to treatment for men and women suffering from hair loss. Like finasteride, minoxidil has been proven to increase hair weight and improve cases of thinning hair, with a less dramatic increase in new hair growth.
What Benefits Can I Expect from Hair Restoration Treatments?
The benefits of hair restoration treatments can be plentiful for those suffering from mild to severe cases of alopecia. Depending on the treatment chosen, patients can expect to experience increased hair count, increased hair diameter, and a decrease in hair loss. The degree of success following your treatment, however, will be limited to individual factors like the severity of your alopecia, your personal hair goals, your hair type, and your consistency with following the routine required of your chosen treatment.
Each product is designed to treat different aspects of hair loss or hair thinning, and your doctor can help you determine which course of treatment will be the most beneficial for you. For example, the primary effect of Rogaine® and Propecia® is to thicken existing hair strands on thinning hair, with the stimulation of new hair growth to enhance hair density as a secondary effect. Therefore, patients that want to increase their hair count should opt for a process intended to treat hair loss instead.
In all cases, patients should work with their doctor recommended by the American Hair Loss Association to discuss the potential benefits of each treatment on a case-by-case basis. It’s extremely important that all patients have realistic expectations for their specific treatment, which will help them feel satisfied with the results they can expect to achieve.
Who is a Good Candidate for Hair Restoration?
Ideal candidates for hair restoration treatments will vary depending on the type of treatment you choose. With different levels of treatment, your doctor may prescribe you a different medication than most. This will depend on how your current hair looks and what your doctor feels would be the best treatment for you.
The ideal candidate for minoxidil is in the early stages of hair loss. Minoxidil works best in people with hereditary hair loss at the vertex of the scalp, or for women with general thinning of hair on the top of the scalp. Rogaine isn’t meant for patients with receding hairline or baldness at the front of the scalp.
Minoxidil is also most effective in patients that are under 40 years old, and for those who start using it at the first signs of hair loss. Rogaine is not an effective treatment for patients that have already gone completely bald.
Similarly, the ideal candidates for Finasteride, Dutasteride, and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) are in the earliest stages of hair loss. The best candidates for Theradome are those hoping to treat thinning hair and hair loss, while candidates for Tofacitinib treatments are in any stage of hair loss that’s caused by alopecia areata.
Who Should Not Have These Procedures?
As with any medical treatment, hair restoration procedures also are not recommended for everyone. The requirements for each type of treatment varies, and your doctor will help you choose the one that best addresses your needs, goals, and your medical background.
Theradome: Not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Platelet Rich Plasma: Not recommended for patients with critically low platelet count, hypofibrinogenemia, hemodynamic instability, infection, chronic liver disease, anticoagulation therapy, scarring alopecia, and incidence of excessive drinking or smoking.
Tofacitinib: Although tofacitinib is not currently FDA approved for hair loss treatment, extensive research is underway to determine this product’s effectiveness and appropriate safety guidelines for usage. Patients with heart problems are most likely unsuitable candidates for the drug, and frequent blood monitoring is needed while on tofacitinib as the drug can irritate the liver, lower the blood count, and raise cholesterol levels.
Dutasteride: Not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Finasteride: Not recommended for patients with liver problems, pregnant, breastfeeding, high-grade prostate cancer, or male patients with breast cancer.
Minoxidil: Not recommended for patients who do not have a family history of hair loss or who have sudden hair loss. Minoxidil is also not recommended for those under the age of 18.
Are There Any Potential Side Effects or Complications from Hair Restoration?
For many people considering any kind of treatment or cosmetic procedure, the question “is it painful?” will probably come to mind at least once or twice. Luckily for hair loss sufferers, hair restoration treatments, for the most part, range from completely pain-free to mildly painful. Most pain, if there is any, can be categorized as a slight discomfort, and is usually experienced by a small percentage of patients as a side effect rather than a direct result of the treatment itself.
Except for Theradome treatments, all hair restoration techniques come with potential side effects that may or may not show up after treatment. The most intensive procedure is usually considered to be PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment. Side effects from PRP for hair loss may include minimal pain, pinpoint bleeding, and redness when the injections are being delivered. Some patients comment on a “full” or “tight” feeling in the scalp immediately after injections that can last up to about one day. Rarely, patients will complain of a mild headache the next day.
Side effects from the treatments we have discussed usually do not cause pain but can cause other symptoms such as loss of interest in sex, trouble having an orgasm, abnormal ejaculation, and swelling of the tenderness of the breasts. These are only seen with the Tofacitinib, Dutasteride, and Finasteride treatments. Rogaine® may cause allergic or irritant contact dermatitis as well.
Because the treatment is still under intensive research, the list of side effects after taking tofacitinib may be incomplete. Currently, the known side effects after taking tofacitinib, which is still being tested in clinical trials, may include increased risk of infection with serious infections occurring in approximately 2% of patients, the long-term risk for cancer, and a reduced heart rate by approximately five beats per minute.
What Does Hair Restoration Cost?
The cost of hair replacement treatments can vary tremendously depending on the complexity of the procedure. More intrusive treatments will usually cost more than treatments that can be administered at home. In this section, let’s take a look at each treatment and what it typically costs to give you a general idea of what you may have to spend on treatment.
Theradome: Theradome helmets can be purchased online for $895, and used over and over again until the desired outcome is reached. This is a relatively low-priced treatment, especially when compared to the PRP and Tofacitinib procedures.
Platelet Rich Plasma: As the most invasive procedure on the list, PRP procedures can cost anywhere from $1500-$2500 for one treatment. This is one of the most expensive and labor extensive procedures on this list.
Tofacitinib: Tofacitinib, though it has not yet been approved by the FDA, is the most expensive treatment included in this overview. Patients hoping to be treated by this drug can expect to spend between $4000-$4300 per month for treatments.
Dutasteride: A more affordable option for hair loss restoration is Dutasteride. This treatment can cost anywhere from $15-$210 a month, depending on your dosage.
Finasteride: Finasteride treatment has an estimated cost that ranges between $10-$60 a month, though it should be mentioned that indefinite, continued use of the product is necessary to keep up the results.
Minoxidil: With a price of only $15-$30 a month, and the convenience of getting it at just about any grocery store, Minoxidil (Rogaine®), is by far the cheapest option available. Like Propecia®, however, continued use is essential to the process. If patients quit using the products at any point in time, any hair growth that was gained while taking Rogaine® is likely to fall out again.
How Many Treatments Are Needed to See Results?
Although all cases progress at different rates according to each patient, here are some of the average treatment times needed for patients to see results.
For Theradome patients, the minimization of hair loss typically occurs between four to 18 weeks of consistent treatment. Thicker hair is seen within 18-26 weeks of continued use, and renewed hair growth typically begins within 26-52 weeks of starting treatment. In most cases, the final results are visible after using the helmet consistently for one year.
Platelet Rich Plasma treatments will require the patient to undergo one to three treatments spaced one week apart for up to eight months. Most users see results around the eight-month mark.
If your doctor prescribes you with Tofacitinib, you will need to take the medication twice daily for three to six months to start seeing increased hair growth.
Dutasteride and Finasteride will both require a once daily dose for three months for hair growth to increase. Some users may need more or less time.
For those using Rogaine® products, you will need to apply the foam one to two times daily for up to six months to see initial results, and indefinitely to maintain the results.
Are Results Permanent or Temporary?
Most hair loss restoration treatments will provide long lasting if not permanent results. Depending on the treatment chosen, some patients may need additional or continual treatments to see permanent results.
Theradome treatments require a full year of consistent application to see the best results, though those results are permanent and lasting. PRP results require maintenance treatments every eight months after the initial process is completed.
Tofacitinib, dutasteride, finasteride, and minoxidil treatments must be continued indefinitely to maintain results.
To see immediate and permanent results without having to take medication or undergo continual treatments for an extended amount of time, hair transplantation using the follicular unit extraction (FUE) method or strip harvesting method which uses grafted hair follicles and donor hair may be more suitable for your application.
What is the Process of Hair Restoration Like?
From pills and ointments to injections and surgery, there are more ways to administer hair restoration treatments than most people are aware of. This section will help you understand what you can expect from each of the six processes we mentioned for hair restoration, and how the techniques are different from each other in their applications.
Theradome is a product that patients will use at home, after showering and towel-drying their hair. After showering, patients will simply place the cap on top of their head and turn it on, allowing the Theradome to treat the scalp for 20 minutes per session. According to the FDA, patients can safely use this treatment twice weekly. For patients that prefer to use the Theradome cap more than twice a week, it is recommended that they wait at least 12-24 hours between sessions.
Platelet Rich Plasma treatment is more involved and will require the administration of technique by a professional. PRP treatments involve collecting the patients’ blood, spinning it down into a concentrate of plasma with a high platelet concentration, and then injecting it back into the patient's scalp.
Tofacitinib (Xeljanz®) is taken as a 5mg oral medication twice daily for the duration of the treatment. Tofacitinib is known as a JAK inhibitor. JAK is short for Janus kinase, which are enzymes in the immune system that transmit signals that influence cell functions. This treatment can interfere with the immune processes that cause hair loss.
Dutasteride is prescribed in a pill form, typically as a 2.5mg daily dose, while Finasteride is also a 1mg pill taken once a day for three to six months. Increased hair growth is usually seen after three months, but some patients may see results after six months.
Minoxidil is a topically applied foam that is available over the counter in most drug or grocery stores. Adults are instructed to apply one millimeter of foam to the scalp twice a day.
Conclusion: The Pros and Cons of Hair Restoration
Deciding which treatment will most benefit you depends on a variety of factors, including your medical background, the type of hair loss you are experiencing, your budget, and the advice of your doctor. For best results, contact your medical professional to go over the pros and cons of each treatment and your options for hair restoration surgery or hair transplant surgery, as they relate to your particular case. In general, the pros and cons of each treatment can be summarized in the following ways:
Theradome users have the convenience of a cost-effective, non-invasive, simple in-home treatment without side effects or continual upkeep costs after results are achieved. The biggest drawback of the treatment is the long wait period between starting the process and seeing results. After a while, many patients begin to lose patience with the ongoing commitment to the treatment and may stop using the helmet consistently. Without consistency, this program will not be effective.
As one of the only options for patients with severe hair loss, the pros of PRP treatment are the dramatic results in stimulating hair growth. The drawback is that results must be maintained consistently every eight months after the initial process, for an indefinite amount of time.
For patients with alopecia areata, tofacitinib treatments can increase hair growth relatively quickly. While the effectiveness of this medication seems quite promising, the biggest drawback is that the treatment is not yet FDA approved.
With Dutasteride, patients will also see a great increase in hair growth. However, the extensive list of side effects may make the drug unsuitable for some. Similarly, Finasteride is another treatment that is quite effective despite the numerous side effects. Another downside to these medications is that they must be taken indefinitely to maintain results.
With Rogaine, the benefits are increased hair weight, increased hair diameter, and increased hair thickness for those that are consistent with the recommended course of treatment. On the other hand, patients might not see results for an extended period and will need to continue treatment permanently to maintain results once they are achieved.
In short, there are many different ways to combat hair loss, whether your case is minimal or severe. The techniques we have listed above are some of the most popular hair restoration techniques on the market, each with a long list of patients that have successfully gotten their natural hair back after using these products, medications, or having had the outlined treatments as directed.
It is highly suggested that you visit with your doctor to determine the best course of action to combat your specific case of hair loss. With an expert opinion, you can get the proper medication that will be used to help you gain hair volume or hair count in the least amount of time possible.