Hair loss treatments are most successful when started early. It’s easier to slow down hair loss than it is to stimulate new hair growth. Hair follicles that stop producing hair become dormant after about two years and can’t be reactivated. Once significant hair loss has occurred, surgical procedures may be the best option.
Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments
Treatments available without a prescription include:
- Minoxidil. Applied directly to the scalp, this medication (sold under the brand name Rogaine) can stop hairs from getting thinner. It can also stimulate hair growth on the top of the scalp. It can be combined with other treatments.
- Laser devices. There are various brushes, combs, and other devices that release laser light and are marketed as hair loss treatments. These devices might stimulate hair growth, but they haven’t been clinically proven to do so.
Depending on the severity of your hair loss and your success with OTC treatments, your doctor may recommend the prescription drug finasteride (Proscar, Propecia). Finasteride is a pill that’s approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat men with hair loss. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it slows hair loss in about 88 percent of men and stimulates regrowth in about 66 percent of men.
There are also medical procedures available for the treatment of hair loss, including:
- Hair transplantation. Parts of your scalp that have good hair growth are removed, and hair follicles are transplanted to the balding areas.
- Scalp reduction. Some of the bald scalp is surgically removed, and the parts of the scalp with good hair growth are brought closer together. This can be combined with a hair transplant.
- Scalp expansion. Devices are inserted under the scalp for about three to four weeks to stretch the skin. This procedure may be done before a scalp reduction or as a stand-alone treatment.
- Scalp micropigmentation. Tiny tattoos can be applied to the scalp to create the appearance of a shaved head.