Hair Loss - Treatment Overview
Some people choose to treat
hair loss with medicines or surgery, such as hair
transplant surgery. Others choose to wear hairpieces (wigs or toupees) or use
different methods of hair styling (dyeing or combing). The approach you use
depends on the cause of your hair loss. Some people feel they need treatment,
while others are not as concerned about thinning hair or baldness.
If a disease, medicine, or stress is the cause, then treating the
disease, changing medicines, or eliminating or learning to manage the stress
may stop the hair loss.
Treatment for hair loss may help you feel better about how you look, although the trade-off might be that it
affects your health. Some medicines may have harmful side effects, and surgery
may carry certain risks.
Inherited hair loss
Treatment for inherited hair
loss (androgenetic alopecia) aims to prevent
hair loss, promote hair growth, and cover bald areas of the scalp. But
treatment is not successful for everyone, and you should not expect to regrow a
full head of hair.
Minoxidil. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is
available without a prescription and is sprayed on and/or rubbed into the scalp
twice a day.
Finasteride. Finasteride (Propecia) is available by
prescription and is taken once daily in pill form. Finasteride has not been
proved effective in women and is not approved for women by the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA).2 Women who are or may
become pregnant should not take or handle crushed or broken tablets, because
finasteride can cause birth defects.
For more information, see:
Should I Treat Inherited Hair Loss With Medicine?
Hair transplant surgery. During this surgery, your doctor will move small grafts (pieces
of skin with
hair follicles ) from areas of your scalp with full hair to areas of your
scalp that are bald or thinning. The grafts may include single hairs or up to
30 hairs in one graft. This is the most common type of surgery used to treat
- Scalp reduction. Scalp reduction involves removing large
areas of bald scalp from the head. Sections of the scalp with growing hair are
then stretched and sewn together to fill in the bald areas.
flaps. Scalp flaps involve moving a large section of scalp containing hair from
the side and back of the scalp to a bald area. One side of the flap remains
attached to the scalp as the section of scalp with hair is moved to cover a
bald area. The complication rate of this procedure is higher than other
procedures because of bleeding, scarring, and infection after surgery.
Cosmetic approaches to hair loss include:
- Wearing hairpieces.
Hairpieces are made from human or synthetic hair that is implanted into a nylon
netting. Hairpieces may be attached to the scalp with glue, metal clips, or
tape. Hair weaving, which involves sewing or braiding pieces of long hair into
existing hair, is not recommended because it may cause permanent hair loss.
- Using certain hair care products and styling
techniques. Hair care products or perms may make hair appear thicker. Dyes may
be used to color the scalp. But continual use of perms or dyes may result in
more hair loss.
Treatment for other causes of hair loss