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7 Treatments That Promise to Stop Hair Loss: Do They Work?

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When the shame of balding makes you question your confidence, you will start to worry more and accumulate more stress, which consequently causes even more hair loss. Unfortunately, it’s a vicious circle that many people constantly revolve around, struggling to find a hair loss treatment that works for them. It’s not an easy job when just Amazon holds over thousands of supplements and products composed of different formulations for hair loss. When you have that many options, it’s getting pretty tricky to keep evidence of every product, and it’s even harder to figure out which one is worth a try or not. Not even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does have the authority to review the products for safety and effectiveness before they are listed online.

Why is your hair falling

The hair follicle experience multiple cycles of degeneration and regeneration during lifetime due to stem cell involvement. These cycles are anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen. Every hair follicle can be at a different stage of the growth cycle at any time. The anagen phase is the only phase where the hair actually grows. During this stage, the hair grows about 0.4 inches every month, the hair remaining in this phase for 2 to 6 years. The catagen is a short transitional phase that lasts about 10 days, leading to the telogen phase. About 3% of all hairs are in this phase at a given time. Telogen is the resting phase where the hair follicles stay inactive for about 3 months. Also, during this stage, the strands are released and fall out. If you suffer from hair loss, the duration of the anagen phase will be progressively shortened. Also, the hair follicles count in the anagen phase will be gradually decreasing. This shortening of the anagen phase leads to the miniaturization of hair follicles, which results in a decrease of visible hair over the scalp.

How to cure hair loss?

Hair follicles are responsible for hair growth. When the follicles start to produce thinner and weakened hair, their production rate slows, resulting in hair loss. When a hair follicle dies, it will no longer produce hair, and it’s not possible to revive it in any way, which leads to baldness. However, if you are not growing visible hair, it does not mean that the hair follicle is dead, but it tells you it’s about to die. It usually takes years, if not decades, for a follicle to die. While you still have active hair follicles, you can stimulate the production speed rate and strengthen the produced hair to combat hair loss.

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Does getting treated earlier improve the results? 

Absolutely yes! Most of the time, the products and treatments give the highest yield in the early stages of hair loss when you still have many active hair follicles. “There’s a lot of weakening effects that occur before the follicle shuts down, so it’s gonna be important to track the miniaturization phase of the hair follicle and then intervene as soon as possible before the hair is completely dead and gone,” explains Dr. Alan J. Bauman. Therefore, it’s crucial to take action as soon as you notice you lose hair.

Ways to stop hair loss

Even though there is no cure for baldness, you still have plenty of options that can help you fight back. You may not be able to revive the dead hair follicles, but you certainly can stimulate the hair production rate in the active ones and make the newly growing hair stronger and thicker. 

1. Medication and drugs

Drugs have always been at the top of the hair restoration industry, with millions of dollars invested and spent annually. You can find them in liquid, foam, or pills form. However, the topical application performs better than the oral or parenteral administration of drugs for androgenic alopecia. One of the biggest concerns raised by patients about drug-based treatments is how easy it is to maintain this therapy over a lifetime. Because drugs take a long time until they work, most people quit the procedure before completing it. “People get tired of drugs, and it becomes difficult to administrate day after day,” explains Elise Arline Olsen, MD.

There are currently only two drugs approved by the FDA for both effectiveness and safety, namely minoxidil (Rogaine) and oral finasteride (Propecia). Of course, there are also other drugs for treating androgenetic alopecia. But these have been only clinically tested and not officially approved. View the full list of approved and clinically tested drug therapies for androgenetic alopecia.

Minoxidil 

Minoxidil is the first medication authorized by the FDA for treating genetic hair loss, and it’s sold as a liquid or foam. Minoxidil is a worldwide known drug proven to stimulate hair growth and stop hair loss and is expected to work for 2 out of 3 men. Minoxidil is found in two strengths: 2% and 5%. The 2% minoxidil solution was launched in 1986, followed by the 5% solution in 1993. Upjohn, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, has undergone a study involving 2300 patients, testing the minoxidil’s effectiveness in treating androgenic alopecia. “At the end of the year, 39% of the men had experienced moderate or dense hair growth on their balding spots, while the remaining 61% experienced little or no growth,” they explain.

Does it really work?

As a conclusion of numerous clinical trials, the 5% minoxidil solution was 45% more effective to increase hair density for men than the 2% minoxidil solution, which is more recommended for women. 

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Finasteride

Finasteride is the other FDA-approved medication commercially found under the name of Propecia. This drug helps combat hair loss by prohibiting testosterone conversion into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone with powerful androgenic properties, which makes hair follicles shrink, weaken, and eventually die.

Does it really work?

A clinical study demonstrated that oral finasteride encourages hair growth and prevents further hair loss in a significant proportion of patients suffering from male pattern hair loss. “The results showed improvements in hair growth in 48% of finasteride recipients after one year and in 66% after two years,” explains K.J. McClellan, the author of the study. Another study comparing the effects of oral vs. topical finasteride conducted by Hajheydari claims that topical finasteride’s effectiveness was similar to oral intake. However, the penetration level of topical finasteride seems to be an issue, so the researchers tried to combine the topical finasteride with minoxidil to enhance deeper penetration and better absorption. Besides these, oral finasteride may cause side effects such as decreased libido or erectile dysfunction due to reduced blood DHT levels.

2. Redensyl, Capixyl and Procapil

Procapil, Redensyl, and Capixyl are powerful active ingredients used to formulate haircare products.

Redensyl was developed by Induchem Laboratories (Switzerland), found to improve the hair growth cycle by promoting the conversion of hair follicles from the telogen phase to the anagen phase. The Swizz company has subjected Redensyl to multiple trials. “Clinical investigations have shown that Redensyl is efficient to treat androgenic alopecia male pattern, and more generally to treat hair loss.” It’s known that Redensyl can add up to 28,200 new hairs after 84 days of treatment. “The efficiency of Redensyl as alopecia hair loss treatment was also confirmed by the high user satisfaction rate (+71%) recorded during the clinical investigation,” they concluded. Rendesyl is mostly found in a proportion of 3% as an active ingredient in serums and oils. If you are interested in including this wonder ingredient in your hair care regimen, check these products.

Capixyl and Procapil are two breakthrough formulas obtained from International Flavors and Fragrances Laboratories (France), respectively Sederma Laboratories (France). They have a DHT-blocking mechanism and are known to increase hair growth and combat hair loss.

Better than Minoxidil?

Redensyl, Capixyl, and Procapil (RCP) are often compared with topical Minoxidil, and individually, they seem to have the same results. This study conducted by Nezih Karaca evaluated the effectiveness of topical Redensyl, Procapil, and Capixyl as a single treatment for hair loss compared to 5% topical Minoxidil.

rcp treatment for hair loss

It turns out that the combination of these 3 ingredients was effective in 64.7% of cases compared to Minoxidil, which showed recovery in only 25.5%. “At the end of the 24-week treatment period, hair recovery in the RCP group was 2.54 times higher than that in the minoxidil group, a difference that was found to be statistically significant,” explains Nezih.

3. Natural remedies for hair loss

Some natural ingredients, including herbs, spices, and oils, have been used to stimulate the follicles and help hair grow since ancient times. Chemical damage by bleaches, dyes, straighteners and even sunlight can weaken hair and increase inter-fiber friction, leading to hair loss. In case your hair is chemically treated, natural remedies have fewer chances of success. Instead, if your hair is not dyed or chemically treated, you can opt for saw palmettocastor oil, or peppermint oil.

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4. Hair care & cosmetic products

Commonly used, hair care products represent a part of our daily routine. A May 2017 consumer survey found that over half of Americans use hair care products every day. However, using cosmetics to treat hair loss is not the best approach since none of these have been officially tested or cleared, so they cannot be marked as treatments. The FDA explains that “the law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, except for color additives, to be approved by the FDA before they go on the market.” While hair care products may not be a great help, they sure can do a lot of damage. Chemicals, parabens, sulfates are commonly found in hair care products and can worsen your condition. Make sure your shampoo and conditioner are free of these chemicals that can cause hair loss.

5. Hair Growth Supplements

The deficiencies of micronutrients in the body are one of the most common causes of hair loss. If the hair is not fed with the necessary nutrients, it’s hard to keep its cuticle integer and hold enough water in its fibers to stay elastic, so it breaks easily, making you lose hair. Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, iron, selenium, and zinc are the required elements to grow healthy hair. A deficiency of any of these components can lead to severe hair loss. From this experiment, it turns out that the use of oral supplements in case of deficiencies was associated with a visible increase in hair growth after 90 and 180 days, without adverse events.  

Supplements are not without risks, as in the absence of a deficiency, supplementation may be harmful to hair. In fact, over-supplementing certain nutrients, like vitamin A, vitamin E, and selenium, have been linked to hair loss. If you lack essential nutrients and want to start a supplement diet, this is the right place to purchase hair growth supplements.

Unfortunately, the U.S. FDA does not have the authority to review dietary supplements for safety & effectiveness. Yet, since the FDA does not regulate supplements, it’s your responsibility to review their efficacy and safety. Websites such as the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database or the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements’ PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset and Dietary Supplements Ingredient Database may be of help in this exploration. 

6. Low-level laser therapy for hair loss

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) showed great potential in treating the genetic forms of hair loss since Endre Mester discovered it in 1967, and it continues to have one of the highest success rates in the hair recovery field. At this very moment, LLLT is a non-invasive, safe, officially approved, and effective solution that stimulates hair follicles growing fuller and thicker hair. The LLLT couldn’t be performed at home until 2007 when the FDA has cleared the first device that used low-level lasers to stimulate hair growth. It’s about HairMax LaserComb, a handy and comfortable brush-like device designed with 9 medical-grade lasers. 

How at-home laser devices promote hair growth

When the device is above your scalp, the lasers penetrate the scalp layers, increase blood flow in the scalp, and stimulate metabolism in catagen or telogen follicles. Just like that, it moves the hair follicles into the anagen phase, naturally stimulating new hair growth. Moreover, the increased blood circulation enhances the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicles, eliminating the toxins and harmful DHT.

Today’s devices have taken many forms, from combs to helmets or even simple caps. Most of them use up to 272 lasers intended to cover the entire scalp. These devices are very comfortable for home use. Some don’t even require to be plugged in while running so that you can get other jobs done during the therapy sessions. But do they really work? Can LLLT promote hair growth for every individual, regardless of the hair loss condition, hair type, or other factors?

LLLT stimulates hair growth at a very high rate

John L. Satino tested the efficacy of laser hair growth devices on 28 men and 7 women suffering from androgenetic alopecia. Each patient used HairMax LaserComb, 10 minutes every day, for 6 months. The results showed substantial new hair count in all patients at the end of the therapy, recording 55-65% new hair in women, respectively 74-120% new hair in men. Until today, LLLT was subjected to dozens of official trials performed to test the therapy’s efficacity and safety. All of them have reached the same conclusion that low-level lasers can promote hair growth at a fast rate, and the process is painless and safe for home use.

LLLT devices: How much do they cost?

If the therapy is performed in a salon, you will pay approximately $60 per session; the amount depends on many circumstances, such as the area or salon’s popularity. However, the entire treatment takes many sessions and products, which might cost around $2,000 on average. For at-home LLLT devices, the price can vary anywhere between $40 and $2,500.

7. Hair transplants

It’s been a while since the first hair transplant has been performed, in 1952, in New York City, by Dr. Norman Orentreich. Briefly, this type of cosmetic surgery involves moving hair to thin or bald areas. There are two popular methods for hair transplant: follicular unit strip surgery and follicular unit extraction.

  1. FUSS method starts with a linear incision across the back of the scalp, allowing for removing the donor follicles. The harvested area is then separated to create tiny units for transplantation. All the follicles are placed into the desired area using micro incisions.
  2. FUE procedure requires the removal of individual hair follicles for grafting into the balding patch. The removed hairs are then treated and prepared to place into the thinning area to produce a natural hair growth process.

The process might take between 4 to 8 hours, depending on the size area, and can be repeated if you want even more hair. However, for consistent results, the procedure requires to be performed once in a decade. Hair transplants are viral among celebs, too! Naomi Campbell, Fergie Duhamel, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey are just a few of the famous females who appealed to this procedure.

Success rate

As one might assume, the success rate can vary as many factors influence this score, including the surgeon’s skill, the technology used, and the client’s satisfaction. Most famous hair transplant doctors would claim a 90% rate to be the lowest acceptable outcome regarding the follicles that become permanent hair. In general, it’s believed that anywhere ranging from 10 to 80% of transplanted hair fully grows back. As hair loss is not a scalp issue, but a follicle’s, the transplanted hair doesn’t fall out like previous hairs. A hair transplant procedure can cost anywhere from $4000 to $15,000. 

Recovery

After the intervention, the scalp might become sensitive, so your doctor will have you wear bandages for the first two days. Also, you may be prescribed some antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs for several days. In most cases, people can return to work 2 to 5 days after the intervention.

Side effects?

In 2014, this study analyzed the side effects and complications of hair restoration surgery. Even though rarely occurred, there were registered cases of side effects and complications, like the failure of growth of transplanted hair, skin texture change, hiccups, wide scar, bacterial folliculitis, postoperative edema, or excessive bleeding.

What to avoid: Top enemies that stop hair growth

Knowing your enemies when it comes to hair loss has more value than any product or treatment. What good to follow strict routines that stop hair fall if you keep having the same bad habits that hinder the hair from growing? Hence, the following practices need to be considered by everyone who wants healthy hair and stop hair from fall.

This can make a huge difference in combating hair loss

The cumulative effects of environmental factors, such as U.V., humidity, wind, and chemicals in hair products & procedures, hurts the physicochemical hair structure. Grooming habits have a strong impact on hair fibers. Daily shampooing cleanses off the protective layers of sebum covering the hair, causing the shaft to dry out, becoming more prone to friction. Briefly, the critical aspects of preventing hair weathering include avoiding unnecessary damaging hair styling techniques, daily shampooing & conditioning, and excessive use of photoprotection.

Fortunately, hair is in continuous growth, and unless the follicles are affected, hair shafts can be restored. If weathering is prevented, new hair fibers will grow healthy and strong.

What medication causes hair loss?

Drugs may induce hair loss, stimulate hair growth or, more rarely, induce changes in the hair shape and color. Drug-induced hair loss is usually reversible and is, in most cases, the result of a toxic effect of the drug on the hair follicle matrix. A few drugs may interfere with the hair growth cycle and produce diffuse hair loss. Studies concluded that drugs might be suspected as a cause of DHT in females. The most common group responsible for hair loss is antihypertensives. It turns out that Atenolol, Propanolol, Nebivolol, and Metoprolol may produce diffuse alopecia by causing telogen effluvium. 

What else you should know

First of all, quit smoking if you didn’t yet. Besides being the single most preventable cause of significant morbidity in the population, tobacco smoking has adverse effects on hair health. This observational study indicates a significant association between smoking and hair loss.

Late nights? Such a bad idea!

How sleep influence hair’s health and growth? While sleeping, the epithelial hair follicle stem cell goes to work. Only good nights of rest can help ensure that the process occurs seamlessly. Contrarily, lack of sleep hinders the cells from doing their job, and the result can lead to hair loss. When we lack sleep, the stress level increases, and cellular functioning is reduced, resulting in hair loss. 

This study provides sufficient data to show that systemic stress influences the immune system’s function, regulating hair growth. On the other hand, certain hormones are secreted when we sleep, repairing and restoring all body cells’ work, including hair cells.

Have an active lifestyle

Last but not least, consider having an active and healthy lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle where sitting all day in front of your T.V. or computer won’t benefit your hair. How can sport help hair grow faster? While exercising, the scalp’s blood circulation increases, allowing more nutrients to reach the follicles to promote hair growth. When the scalp is sweating, it helps open the pores, giving room for new hair to grow.

Can you get rid of hair loss forever?

It’s no secret that preventing hair loss is much easier and convenient than dealing with it. The natural remedies are a good way to enhance and revitalize your hair every day, so it won’t be prematurely prone to fall. Don’t count on shampoos, serums, or oils if you want to treat severe conditions like genetic hair loss. Still, it’s essential to use quality and exclusive products for hair growth because it won’t make your hair fall more. Try the ones formulated with Redensyl, Capixyl, or Procapil. These are the most potent active ingredients that can make your hair grow faster.

More or less, Minoxidil and Finasteride remain the most reliable way to treat hair loss at home. These are the only two treatments cleared by the FDA and are officially proven to promote new hair growth. Don’t expect miraculous results overnight. It can take up to 3 years to see visible improvements. Low-level laser therapy is another great alternative you should consider. It’s safe and very effective in stimulating hair growth naturally. Modern devices are incredibly comfortable and easy to use at home. In the end, if none of the above treatments have results for you, the hair transplant might be the last solution you’ve got for now.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339524/ published by Zenildo Santos, February 2015
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/ published by Emily L. Guo, January 2017
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/ published by Maria Fernanda Reis Gavazzoni Dias, January 2015
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/ published by Hind M. Almohanna, March 2019
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/ published by Ablon Glynis, November 2012
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6609098/ published by Sung Won Lee, April 2018
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4314881/ published by B. S. Chandrashekar, January 2015
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/ published by Poonkiat Suchonwanit, August 2019
  9. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327001
  10. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/understanding-hair-loss-basics#1
  11. https://www.baumanmedical.com/august-national-hair-loss-awareness-month-detection-prevention-treatment/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9951956/
  13. http://www.nardev.com/UploadSection/ProdCat-276-1446515551.pdf
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