Hair Loss Products: Do They Really Work?

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Lotions, Potions & Snake Oil — Hair-Raising or Heart-Breaking?

At the Seager Medical Group, clients often bring with them bottles of hair growth products, herbal remedies and special shampoos that they are using, with the question “Do they really work?”Ever since the times of the Pharaohs, people have been seeking cure for hair loss. It has been said that one Pharaoh drank a concoction of asses hoof, dates and dog paw to try to restore his hair and in the 19th century a mixture of coconut oil, borax powder, and the burning of Indian incense was believed to promote hair growth.

Wonder Drugs for Your Hair?

A simple Google search will yield countless pages of pills and lotions designed to cure baldness. Many offer “money-back guarantees”, but the dissatisfied customer usually sheepishly chalks up his failed wonder cure to experience & is too embarrassed to ask for a refund (minus shipping charges!” While there is no “Wonder Drug” that will give a bald person a full head of hair, there are 2 medications used in medical hair restoration which have shown effectiveness in treating hair loss.

(1) Propecia (Finasteride) is a pill which prevents the conversion of the male hormone, Testosterone, to DHT; it is the DHT which is thought to be responsible for triggering hair loss in people who are genetically predisposed to male pattern hair loss. In large scientific studies over 5 years showed that 9 out of 10 men had visible results; either no further hair loss or re-growth of hair. That’s the good news. Now if there is good news, this implies that there must be bad news!Propecia has to be taken every day; if Propecia is stopped for a period of time, the hair loss will “catch up” to where it would have been had the person never been on Propecia. It has not been tested on women, therefore it cannot be recommended for female pattern hair loss. There is also a 1-2% risk of erectile dysfunction with Propecia; which is reversible once Propecia is stopped.

(2) The other drug which is approved by the FDA for male and female pattern hair loss is Minoxidil (Rogaine / Regaine). Like so many “discoveries” in medicine, the hair-restorative properties of Rogaine were stumbled upon accidently. Some hair loss sufferers who were taking Minoxidil pills for high blood pressure found that they were re-growing hair, so the manufacturers of Minoxidil devised a liquid version of the drug (Rogaine) that could be applied to the scalp and, lo and behold, it worked!! Around 80 % of men using 2% Rogaine found that hair loss decreased, whereas only 5% of men showed moderate re-growth. A 5% strength of Rogaine shows improved results compared to 2% Rogaine. Occasionally Rogaine liquid can cause scalp irritation. This is due to the effects of the propylene glycol and alcohol in which the drug is dissolved. In order to combat this problem, the company has developed 5% Rogaine Foam which is less irritating; unfortunately Rogaine Foam is not yet available in Canada.

I hear you asking “But what about all the other products that are out there in the herbalist shops and salons that say they will unclog my pores and make my hair grow?” Male or female pattern hair loss is a genetic condition and is not caused by blocked pores, and scientific studies do not substantiate the claims of these manufacturers. This does not mean that we should neglect good hair care. Washing hair with a good quality, pH-balance, high protein shampoo will not only keep hair clean, but it will also give the hair more body causing it to appear thicker and healthier. It is essential to use conditioner in order to provide a protective lubricating coating to the hair shafts. This will stop the hairs from becoming brittle and will protect them from breaking.

So as we can see, there is no “Wonder-Cure” for hair loss, but these 2 products are very useful in our armamentarium of hair loss treatments in order to slow down or prevent hair loss, especially in the early stages. For those people for whom there is established hair loss, hair transplantation will grow hair back in those areas from where it has been lost. The science behind this technique is fairly simple; male or female pattern hair loss is genetic. The permanent hair on the sides and back of the head does not fall out because it is genetically programmed to grow for life.

In those people who are suffer from male or female pattern hair loss, the hair on the front and top of the head will fall out because it is genetically predisposed to do so. Hair transplantation simply involves moving the genetically-permanent hair from the back and sides of the head to the place from which it has been lost. The hair’s genetics “tell the hairs to keep on growing” so they do and we are able to restore hair from where it was lost.Although the scientific principles are simple, the hair replacement procedure relies not purely on science, but to a large extent on artistry. At the Seager Hair Transplant Centre we believe that “A hair transplant should not look like a hair transplant!”, and we pride ourselves on performing surgical hair restoration procedures that look so incredibly natural that, in many cases, even your own hairstylist can not tell that it is not your original hair.

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