What the best hair-loss treatment does
- Promotes hair growth and retention of remaining hair. The best treatments have been clinically proven to halt balding and regrow hair. There are thousands of so-called solutions that have virtually no impact on hair regrowth. Reviewing hard data from placebo-controlled clinical studies makes it easier to find the treatments with measurable effects.
- Grows natural-looking hair. Ideal hair-loss treatments deliver even distribution of hair that looks natural blending in with the hair on the back of the head.
- Works quickly and lasts indefinitely. Hair regrowth should occur within a few months of diligent use. Hair transplant surgery is the only permanent solution to hair loss, but the best topical and oral treatments continue to work over the course of the patient's lifetime if used consistently.
- Doesn't irritate the scalp. Topical treatments should feel and smell pleasant on the scalp without causing irritation.
- Doesn't cause unwanted hair growth. Some hair-loss treatments cause hair growth in places other than the scalp, including the face.
Know before you go
- Early treatment is essential for the best results. Experts say most of the treatments available are more effective at stopping or slowing the progression of hair loss than they are at regrowing hair. Therefore, early treatment is a must.
- Medical diagnosis is strongly recommended. There are numerous types of hair loss, which are easier to treat when the underlying cause is known.
- Even effective treatments don't work for everyone.
- It can take several months to see results. And sometimes the results are minimal. Experts say having a realistic attitude about results helps with satisfaction. Those who expect miracles are likely to be disappointed.
- Treatments must be continued in order for results to continue. There is no cure for baldness, and all treatments, with the exception of hair transplant surgery, are temporary. Once a hair-loss treatment is discontinued, any growth as a result of that treatment will eventually be lost.
Value expectations: The dollars and cents of it
The majority of hair-loss treatments, including topical minoxidil solutions like Men's Rogaine Extra Strength Hair Regrowth Treatment (Est. $45 per 3-month supply) and oral drugs like Propecia (Est. $75 per 1-month supply), require continued use throughout the patient's life and thus come with ongoing monthly costs. The one-time costs of hair transplant surgery can range between $5,000 and $10,000, but the procedure does deliver permanent results. However, patients may require multiple sessions to achieve the desired look.
What's to come
The American Hair Loss Association reports that the future of surgical hair-loss treatments likely lies in the mass duplication of human hair follicles, or cloning. However, due to the complicated nature of cloning specialized, DHT-resistant cells, the emergence of this form of therapy may be years down the line.
The FDA recently approved a home device called Theradome (Est. $800), which is a helmet that contains 80 low-powered laser diodes designed to stimulate blood circulation to hair follicles and promote hair growth. It is the first laser system of its kind to be approved for home use, but there is little information available on the effectiveness of the device.