Medical Hair Loss Treatments

  • Best Results4-8 months
  • Treatment Recovery4 - 7 days
  • Procedure TimeNA
  • Skin SpecialistDermatologist
  • Duration of ResultsVariable
  • AnaestheticNumbing, Sedation, Gas
  • Back to WorkNA
  • Cost$

Medical Hair Loss Treatments

Medical treatments should be prescribed in all cases of hair loss. Early & effective management will preserve the remaining hair follicles. These treatments are adjunctive to follicular unit extraction hair transplant surgery, PRP & lasers. Your dermatologist will guide you as to the best options for your pattern of hair loss. 

FactsFacts on Medical Hair Loss Treatments

  • The initial aim of medical treatment is to slow down & preferably halt the progression of hair loss
  • The secondary aim is to regrow hair
  • Diagnosis of hair loss will direct dermatologists to effective treatments
  • FUE hair transplantation is used for more advanced cases of hair loss
  • Some forms of hair loss only require supportive management
  • Other forms require a more comprehensive medical & surgical approach
  • Treatments include simple compounded lotions, PRP, & lasers

Why are you losing hair?

The two most common causes of hair loss are telogen effluvium & androgenetic alopecia. The former is self-limiting & the latter is progressive.

Telogen effluvium presents 2-4 months after a stressful event including postpartum/pregnancy, trauma, operations & emotional stress.

Androgenetic alopecia also known as male/female pattern recession can present anywhere from teenage years (uncommon) to mid adult life. This form of hair loss requires urgent management to slow down the progression towards follicular miniaturization. Early-stage androgenetic alopecia responds much better to treatment compared to late stage hair loss. 

What topical treatments are there for hair loss?

The mainstay topical lotions include-

Topical minoxidil: 2 to 7% +/- retinoic acid. Formulations of 2-5% are over the counter. Compounded formulations contain retinoic acid/ tretinoin with a higher percentage of minoxidil. Retinoic acid, together with propylene glycol can increase the absorption of minoxidil. Minoxidil functions to increase the anagen cycle via increased blood supply to the follicular unit.

Topical dutasteride/finasteride: these are DHT inhibitors, reducing the function of 5 alpha reductase 1 & 2 respectively.  Compounded formulations are normally combined

with topical minoxidil. Topicals have less side effects compared to the oral counterpart.

Topical bimatoprost/latanoprost: these are prostaglandin inhibitors. Dermatologists frequently prescribe this for alopecia areata, hypotrichosis & disorders of pigmentation (hypo).

What about Low-Level Laser Treatments/ LEDs?

Low-level laser therapy is essentially light emitting diode therapy. Also known as red light therapy and cold laser therapy. This uses photons to treat weak / miniaturized hair follicles to encourage growth.

LLET is accepted that the procedure is safe, tolerable, & marginally effective. Biased studies have shown that low level lasers can increase hair count by 39% over 16 weeks. This study has not been replicated or reproduced since. Nevertheless, LEDs can be considered as adjunctive therapy (life-long) to medical treatments.

How: Red light therapy

Procedure: 12-15 minutes

Last: 1 months

Downtime: 0 days

What oral tablets can help with hair loss?

Oral tablets are divided into two categories, anti-hormonal & follicle stimulating / preserving.

Follicle stimulation & preservation tablets include minoxidil. This was one of the first tablets reported for hair loss over three decades ago. It is primarily used as blood pressure medication.

Anti-hormonal (antiandrogens) tablets are subdivided into tablets for men, & tablets for women.

Tablets for men include; finasteride & dutasteride. Tablets for women include cyproterone acetate, spironolactone, flutamide and bicalutamide.

Davin’s Viewpoint on medical management for hair loss

It is accepted that medical management is Gold Standard for all hair loss disorders, with telogen effluvium excepted (as this is self-limiting).

Early & effective management will preserve the hair follicle & reduce the transition or regression toward follicular miniaturization (shrinkage). In many cases medical therapy not only slows down hair loss, but can actually grow new terminal hair.

For males, the usual medical therapy includes minoxidil, topically or orally, together with a dihydrotesterone or DHT inhibitor, usually finasteride or dutasteride. Topical formulations have less side effects compared to oral medications. Risk benefit ratio to be discussed with your dermatologist, including PSA testing intervals.

For females, antiandrogens include the use of cyproterone acetate, spironolactone, & new flutamide analogues known as bicalutamide. The majority of dermatologists will also prescribe minoxidil topical or oral. Some may prescribe off label finasteride, often in combination with minoxidil topically.

In the context of follicular unit extractions / transplantations, medical treatments are always prescribed as adjunctive management. The aim of therapy is to preserve the transplanted hair following surgery, & to reduce regression or miniaturisation of the hair follicle.

Disclaimer: Davin Lim is a procedural dermatologist. I do not prescribe medication for hair loss disorders. For medical management, please discuss with your dermatologist. Alternatively book an appointment with one of my colleagues at Clinic Cutis.

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