"The bottom line with minoxidil is, it does work -- but it only works in the minority of people, and it probably doesn't work forever," says Jean-Claude Bystryn, MD, professor of dermatology at New York University's School of Medicine. "It does help. Are you going to get a permanent effect -- are you gonna keep the hair forever -- probably not. But if you're 20% better than you would have been, are you better off? For some guys, yes."
The problem, Bystryn suggests, is that they haven't found a drug yet to keep people from getting older. "The minoxidil may have a good benefit many, many years down the road," he says. "But there's the aging process. These things are retarding a change that is inevitable. If you retard it, you haven't stopped hair loss. But you are still ahead of the game."
Of course, there is a way to stay ahead of the hair game without doing anything about it: It's called acceptance -- also known as the gospel according to the Bald Headed Men of America. "We don't have room for drugs, plugs, or rugs," says John Capps, spokesperson for the Morehead City, N.C. group. "Life is an aging process. Our schools don't prepare us for the aging the good Lord has placed on our bodies."
Capps charges drug companies and others with "preying" on those losing their hair -- specifically targeting an age group that has money to spend. "The challenge is, however old we are, there's somebody out there telling us we ought to be younger," Capps says. But, he adds, "It's the attitude inside that makes the difference."
- A new study shows that the hair loss product, minoxidil, not only regrows hair but increases the thickness of individual hairs.
- The effects of minoxidil are mitigated over time, and once the medication is stopped, the amount of hair loss returns to its original condition.
- One group argues that one way to deal with hair loss is acceptance, and criticizes drug companies for taking advantage of people who are losing their hair.