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Hair Loss Treatments

Any search of the Internet offers up dozens of possible treatments for hair loss, but finding the right one for you can prove a very expensive and soul-destroying experience. Lots of treatments are not scientifically proven to work, while others may only work for a tiny percentage of sufferers. In fact, careful research is vitally important, as there are very few treatments that are both scientifically proven and licensed to work on the majority of those affected.

Here are some of the treatments that can be used for hair loss:

Minoxidil – Unisex Hair Loss Treatment

Minoxidil has been widely tested for the treatment for hair loss. Although the medication was originally developed to treat high blood pressure, it was later discovered that it had a side effect of stimulating hair growth.

Research at Bradford University has only recently begun to analyse why minoxidil is effective, but despite its actual workings not being clear to us yet, we do know that minoxidil causes hair re-growth in a small percentage of men and women. Even more importantly, it also slows down the rate of hair loss. In fact, latest research shows that there is an 80% chance of slowing down or even halting hair loss in both sexes. Such discoveries can only lead to innovative new ways of managing this condition.

Minoxidil comes as a lotion and should ideally be applied twice daily to a clean and dry scalp. Other than an occasional allergic reaction or skin dryness, the medication has been found to be free of side effects. Meanwhile, a new Minoxidil foam designed for men, Rogaine, may be easier to apply and cause fewer side effects.

In general, 2% strength is recommended for women, while 5% strength is advised for men.

Despite its clear benefits, these will be lost within a few months of stopping use of minoxidil.

Finasteride (Propecia® or Proscar®) - Men Only Hair Loss Treatment

Finasteride is a treatment for men that is taken orally in tablet form. It was originally, and still is, used for the treatment of enlarged prostate glands (prostatic hyperplasia). Although you might not think it, the mechanics are similar to those of the scalp.

Scientists found that Finasteride blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), lowering its level in the bloodstream. Subsequent studies showed that there is an 80% to 90% chance of slowing down or even halting hair being lost through male pattern baldness. Research also showed that there is a 15-30% chance of a significant increase in hair volume. The effects of taking Finasteride normally become apparent after around six months, although any benefits gained from it cease a few months after stopping using it.

As this drug is taken orally, there can be a few side effects, which affect DHT throughout the body and not just on the scalp. The most common side effects are sexual, and affect around one in 200 people. These can include a decreased libido or difficulty in getting or maintaining erections. However, normal sexual function should return within two weeks of stopping the treatment.

As this is a prescription-only medication, men using it will need to see their GP to discuss the benefits and possible side effects, and whether it is appropriate for them.

It should also be noted that the drug must not come into direct contact with a woman who has the potential to get pregnant.

Dutasteride (Avodart®) - Men Only Hair Loss Treatment

Dutasteride works in a similar way to Finasteride, but it is more powerful. To date, it is only licensed for the treatment of enlarged prostates, and not for hair loss. However, research has shown that it is more effective than Finasteride in tackling hair loss, although its potential side effects are more common. These should also be discussed with a doctor.

It should also be noted that the drug must not come into direct contact with a woman who has the potential to get pregnant.

Hair Transplant Surgery – Unisex Treatment

When performed correctly, hair transplant surgery can produce results that are so incredibly natural that even hair stylists cannot detect them. It is more commonly performed on men, however, as the likely level of hair density improvement may be more in line with men's expectations.

As with all hair loss treatments, it is crucial to find the right hair restoration expert, as the skill and the results achieved can vary hugely. Lucinda and her team can arrange a referral to specialist surgeons in the UK who are both ethical and successful with this practice.

Ultra-refined Follicular Unit Transplantation

This technique is so refined that it can even be used to restore lost facial hair -including eyebrows, eyelashes, side burns, beards, moustaches and pubic hair. This method is also used to disguise scars and it can often be used to restore growth into scar tissue.

Ultra-Refined Follicular Unit Transplantation uses stereoscopic dissecting microscopes, and involves taking hair roots from a 'donor' area at the back or sides of the scalp, where the hair generally continues to grow for your entire life, and relocating them to the bald or thinning areas.

Although it sounds highly technical, it is a minimally invasive procedure and enables patients to achieve very natural and thick hair growth after only one surgical session.

On the hairline, individual hairs are placed to follow the direction and angle of the natural growth of the hair, which results in a surprisingly realistic look. Your hair should move and behave in exactly the same way as it ever did, so only you and those close to you need ever know about the treatment.

Each hair transplant treatment takes two to eight hours depending on the number of grafts or hairs being transferred. But the transplant procedure in principle is simple and involves only short-lived discomfort when applying the anaesthetic. The rest of the hair transplant procedure is painless, and no dressings or bandages are required. Half an hour after the treatment you can even head home.

Following treatment, it takes around three or four months for your new hair to begin growing, after which it resumes growing at your natural rate – typically half an inch per month. On a positive note, your new hair continues to develop in colour, body and texture for up to 18 months after surgery. And for most people with significant hair loss, one or two transplants per bald area can result in a natural looking and reasonably full head of hair.