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Survey: Most Baldness Treatments Don't Work

More Than Half of Men Say Hair Loss Treatments Not Effective

Accepting Hair Loss continued...

So what is a balding man or woman to do?

Men were also asked about ways to help mask their baldness, and 65% said wearing a wig or toupee was a very or somewhat effective technique. In addition, 46% said shaving their head works, 46% said dressing better was a good strategy, and 44% said exercising to improve their body helped keep eyes off of their heads.

For now, “the best advice is to use proven entities for hair loss,” Neil Sadick, MD, a dermatologist in private practice at Sadick Dermatology in New York City, tells WebMD. “This includes Propecia, minoxidil, and hair transplantation.”

Advances in Hair Loss Treatment

Stay tuned, Sadick says. Basic science is revealing new ways to address -- and potentially reverse -- hair loss. Some research is pointing toward an inflammatory process that underlies hair loss, suggesting that anti-inflammatory therapies such as steroids may help.

Sadick wrote a book on this topic 10 years ago: Your Hair: Helping to Keep It. What has changed since then?

“Propecia was introduced along with advances in hair transplantation and the use of light sources to stimulate hair growth,” he says. Today’s hair transplants are much more natural looking than the bulky hair plugs of yesteryear, he says. Surgeons can now use individual hair micrografts as opposed to clumps of hair.

“Some men are also looking more positively at baldness,” he says. 

Then and now, “the best bet to prevent getting taken advantage of is to see a doctor who specializes in hair loss, and who will do a thorough evaluation to determine the cause of the hair loss before recommending a treatment,” he says.

Some doctors who are on the front lines of the war against hair loss are surprised by the survey results.

“Our experience continues to show minoxidil to be the most effective medication,” says Robert V. Mandraccia, MD, a plastic surgeon in Fort Myers, Fla.

It is not a quick fix, he says. “It takes time; we suggest nine months to a year to see if it works.”

Manufacturers Speak Out

WebMD contacted Merck & Co., the makers of Propecia, regarding the new survey findings.

“The survey conducted by Consumer Reports, which showed Propecia was the most successful with respondents, supports what has been shown in clinical trials,” says Pamela L. Eisele, a spokeswoman for Merck. “Men who are experiencing male pattern hair loss should talk with a doctor, who can help separate fact from fiction when it comes to hair loss products.”

Joy Pasqualoni, a spokeswoman for Rogaine, which is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, tells WebMD, “In clinical testing of men’s Rogaine foam, we know it regrew hair in 85% of men after four months of twice daily use."

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