It seems hard to believe but the “bald” truth is that 20% of men begin to struggle with hair loss by age twenty, 25% by age thirty and a full 50% experience significant hair loss by age fifty. Although no one wants to really talk about it, some of your friends and relatives might be going through this right now. There is a good chance that this could be your personal story. While many people are making the heroic effort of trying to accept hair loss as simply being a fact of life, others are seeking out a way to reverse this cruel joke of nature by looking into one of the several options for hair replacement.
Today, with the technology, medications and products that are available to us, we do not have to adopt the attitude of “it is what it is”.
We can now draw a line in the sand and say, “no more” to hair loss.
In this article, we will take a look at the many hair replacement choices we have before us when it comes to reclaiming a full head of hair.
Help! I’m losing my hair!
Follicle fallout. It happens. Thinning hair. Bald spots. Receding hairline.
Hair loss a fact of life for many people, and it is gender-neutral.
It is something that can happen to both men and women.
The wavy dark locks, the flowing mane of long, thick, lustrous hair simply starts to go away.
Some hair loss is normal
It is normal to lose around 100 or so hairs per day.
Not an issue for most of us because of the cycle of the growth of new hair.
The dilemma of hair loss begins when the cycle of new hair growth has slowed or completely stopped.
What are the causes of hair loss?
There are many factors to which the loss of hair can be attributed.
These factors include, and are not limited to, the following: genetics (family history), illness, medication, hormonal causes, physical/emotional stress, and even how we chose to treat or style our hair.
Our quality of life is affected
There is the physical side of hair loss and if we are honest with ourselves, there is a personal side as well.
Culturally, a thick head of hair is associated with beauty, virility, and good health.
When we start to have thinning hair, start seeing bald spots or develop a receding hairline, it affects our self-esteem; we lose our confidence.
It impacts our quality of life.
So, what can be done about it?
What can we do to reverse hair loss, and to restore self-confidence, improve our self-image, as well as put the spring back in our step and the sparkle back in our eyes?
For many of us, reaching out for help can feel embarrassing.
As a result, we try “do-it-yourself” methods to try and cover up our thinning hair.
Some of those methods include the classic comb-over, wearing hats or scarves, homemade potions, and even those spray-on bald spot cover-up products (you know the ones I am talking about).
We soon find out the do-it-yourself methods are not very effective.
Real solutions do exist. Both surgical and non-surgical.
Hair replacement solutions that are proven, look good and are long-lasting.
Let’s first take a look at the non-surgical options for hair replacement.
There are a number of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription choices that are available.
See your doctor or dermatologist first
One thing I do need to mention before moving forward with any hair replacement plan is to please see your doctor or dermatologist first.
It is important to determine if the hair loss truly is male-pattern baldness or if the cause is a more serious condition.
Non-prescription and OTC treatments
From topical solutions to tablets and red-light therapy caps, there are a seemingly countless number of options available for someone looking to reverse the effects of male-pattern baldness.
Television commercials and magazine ads for hair replacement products seem to be everywhere.
One of the top dermatologist-recommended non-prescription treatments is an OTC product, that we are all familiar with due to the numerous television commercials, is Rogaine.
Rogaine is an over-the-counter topical treatment.
It is available as either a liquid or a foam.
The active ingredient is minoxidil.
It comes in two concentrations, 2% and 5%, There is a formula for men and a formula for women.
Studies have shown that Rogaine has helped 50% of men with male-pattern baldness to put a stop to the loss of their hair.
Simply work the Rogaine liquid or foam into your scalp as per the manufacturer’s directions.
Minoxidil is quite effective at slowing down and even preventing hair loss.
It is not as effective at developing new hair growth.
However, do not lose hope! Minoxidil will help us to win the war against “follicle fallout”.
And any new hair growth is far better than no hair growth. I will take that as a win any day!
Like any medication, the product does have some side effects, so make sure you carefully read the information on as well as in the packaging and see your doctor before using.
Avacor Physicians Formula and other minoxidil products
Another OTC product with the active ingredient minoxidil and similar to Rogaine is Avacor Physicians Formula which also comes in 2% and 5% concentrations.
And, like Rogaine, it is available in a formula for men and a formula for women.
Use and results are also similar to Rogaine.
There are several other products on the market with minoxidil as the active ingredient.
All of them promise similar results.
Do your research and I also definitely recommend seeing your dermatologist or doctor determine which product is best for you.
And it bears repeating, the use of minoxidil does have some side effects.
Please read all of the product information on as well as in the packaging and see your doctor before using.
Red light therapy
I first came across red light therapy in regard to hair replacement in one of the magazines you find in an airline seatback pocket.
Red light therapy products are a hair replacement method that is wearable and does not need medication.
The thought behind red light therapy is that red light of a particular wavelength (generated by LED’s, low-level lasers or combination of the two), promotes the production of collagen in the scalp.
Collagen is a protein that helps to improve blood flow and is a foundation for healthy hair.
The red light is delivered to your scalp by a cap that you wear.
There are a variety of caps and helmets available on the market.
There is no shortage of styles and options.
Some even have built-in headphones so you can listen to music, podcasts or your favourite audiobook during the therapy sessions.
Clinic studies have shown that red light therapy has been shown to produce a 39% increase in hair growth over a course of 16 weeks.
An internet search of red light therapy products for hair growth will open a world of information that will help you decide if this is the right choice for you.
Prescription treatment options
An option we have to the topical OTC products, which excel at slowing or preventing hair loss, is the prescription products that support the growth of new hair plus prevent future hair loss. (Now you’ve got my attention!)
Propecia is the brand name of the prescription drug finasteride, which is a prescription medication that prompts the growth of new hair.
Finasteride is a DHT-blocker that works to reduce the level of DHT. What is DHT, you might be asking?
DHT is a hormone that when present in high levels can shrink hair follicles causing hair growth to be thin, brittle and even cause hair to fall out.
Reducing the level of DHT greatly reduces hair loss and aids in new hair growth. Propecia is claimed to be the first drug to effectively do this.
In clinical tests that took place over two years, of the men in the study who were taking Propecia, 83% of those men kept the hair at the top of their head.
In another two-year study, 66% of the men in that study saw new hair growth as a result of taking Propecia.
Propecia (finasteride), as stated, is a prescription drug and must be prescribed by a physician.
Please discuss with your doctor or dermatologist as to whether this is the right treatment for you.
There are side effects, some serious, which should also be discussed with your doctor or dermatologist.
IMPORTANT: Finasteride is not for use by women.
Other prescription medications
There are a number of other prescription medications available on the market.
Each with their own unique approach to halting hair loss and aiding in new hair growth.
Please discuss all options regarding medications with your doctor or dermatologist.
Patience is required
One thing to note is that medication and devices take time to yield results.
It can typically take several weeks to several months before you start to see results.
Also, the use of medications or devices requires long-term commitment and discipline.
If you stop using the medications or devices, the new hair that had grown in will start to fall out within a short period of time.
Non-surgical options with immediate gratification
Many of us do not want to wait the weeks or months to begin seeing results.
There is something about immediate gratification that is, well, gratifying.
This is where hair replacement systems come into play.
The availability of high-quality toupees, hairpieces and wigs are as simple as a few mouse clicks away.
There are a number of companies offering stock and custom hair replacement systems made from real human hair that look and feel like your own hair.
The new hair replacement systems available today have come a long way from your grandfather’s or uncle’s ill-fitting toupee that would flip up in the wind.
Today’s new systems are so well-made that you can maintain an active lifestyle and no one will be able to tell you are wearing a hair replacement system.
You can swim, shower, play sports and live your life with total confidence that you will be looking good.
No surgery. No medication. No waiting for months to see results.
And at a fraction of the cost of surgery and medications.
Hair replacement systems are definitely an option to explore.
Also Read: Hair Care Tips For The Bride-to-be
Hair replacement surgery options
If the idea of taking medications for the long-term is not for you and if you would rather have a headful of your own hair instead of a wearable hair replacement system, then hair replacement surgery would be an option to check out.
Today’s methods are so much better than the “plugs” of days gone by.
The two techniques most commonly used are FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) and FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction).
Both methods harvest “donor” hairs from the back of the head.
This is important as the hair from the back of your head is DHT-resistant.
Remember that hormone DHT that causes hair to fall out?
Here is the difference between the two techniques.
FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) or “Strip” Transplant
The FUT method of hair replacement was developed by Dr Robert M. Bernstein.
In a FUT procedure, donor hairs/follicles are collected by a surgeon carefully removing thin strips of healthy hair-bearing skin from the back of your head.
The strips are typically about 1mm to 1.5mm in width and 15mm to 30mm in length.
The areas where the strips of hair were removed are carefully sutured.
Your existing hair in the back of your head covers up those areas.
The strips of harvested hair are then subdivided into grafts of one to four hairs.
Those grafts are transplanted to the areas where the new hair growth is needed.
FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction)
FUE differs from FUT in that with FUE each hair is individually extracted from the back of the head and then the individual grafts are transplanted in the area where the hair replacement is taking place.
The process takes longer than FUT.
However, the scars are smaller and less noticeable.
The FUE transplant can also be done with the aid of ARTAS robotic technology that involves a specially designed surgical robot.
The ARTAS System enables the harvest and transplant of the individual graft to be done with the utmost in precision.
And hair replacement surgery is an option for both men and women.
Which is the right surgical option for you?
If you decide that hair transplant surgery is the way you want to go, consultation with a hair transplant surgeon will help you to find out if you are a good candidate for a hair transplant.
Unfortunately, hair transplants do not work for everyone.
The surgeon will also be able to help you decide if FUT, FUE or ARTAS FUE is the best option for you.
Some things to take into consideration are the number of sessions needed to complete the procedure, the length of each session, the cost and the predicted outcome of the procedure.
Hair transplant surgery is definitely the most expensive hair replacement option.
Depending on the technique and how extensive the procedure, the cost can range from $4000-$15,000 and is most likely not covered by insurance.
Patience is also required in regard to seeing the results of the transplant surgery.
It can take six to nine months to see results.
In some cases, it can take up to a year to see results from the transplant.
Please remember that hair transplant surgery is surgery.
As with any surgical procedure, there are inherent risks.
Make sure to discuss all of the risks and the outcomes with your surgeon before deciding to move forward with transplant surgery.
So many options! Which one to choose?
As you can see, there are many options for hair replacement.
Surgical. Non-surgical. Prescription medications. Non-prescription/OTC medications. Wigs and toupees.
The decision as to which is the right option for you is a question only you can answer.
Your decision will ultimately depend on the research you do on the subject.
There is an abundance of information available online through an internet search on the subject.
There are hair replacement clinics you can contact as well as doctors and dermatologists, you can consult.
You might have friends who have done one of the options listed in this article.
Talking to them over dinner or a coffee will provide their input as to why they decided to go the route they chose.
At the end of the day, it is possible to replace what nature has taken away.
Wouldn’t it be great to restore that youthful look, that sparkle in your eye and the self-confidence that comes from a thick, healthy head of hair that can be achieved through hair replacement?
Check out your options today!