Hair Loss Treatment

Hair loss treatments fall into three major categories: hair replacement (wigs), medication, and surgical restoration or transplants. Quality wigs require significant cost and care, and can be somewhat cumbersome, however medication and restoration may have unacceptable side effects. Each option has pros and cons. Below we'll explain the three categories, options within each of them, and their advantages and disadvantages.

Hair Replacement

Today's wigs and toupees are far superior of those just decades ago. Quality hair pieces are made of human hair and look so real that people won't notice you're wearing one. However they are fake, and many people just don't like the idea of wearing a wig. You'll also need to frequently send or bring your wig in for professional cleaning and maintenance, which means you should have two so you won't be lacking when one is being services.

The best, most realistic wigs can cost thousands of dollars, and maintenance also isn't cheap. It is possible to buy hair pieces made from artificial hair, which will require less maintenance and cost significantly less. But, they won't look as real as wigs made of real human hair. Also consider that artificial hair won't move the same as real hair and may be noticeable for that reason too.

The most difficult part of getting a wig or toupee to look natural is the front hair line. If you have enough frontal hair then this isn't a problem, but if you don't you'll likely need to comb the hair on your wig forward to mask the artificial hair line. This may change your appearance significantly in ways you hadn't imagined, depending on your previous hair style.

Another important consideration for wigs is the way you'll attache them. You don't want your wig falling or blowing off! Typically wigs are either glued, taped, or clipped in place. Gluing a wig will require wearing it for days at a time in order to avoid having to remove and re-glue frequently, and this can be a pain to some. Taping is easier, but may not hold quite as well, and clipping the wig to your existing hair will allow you to remove your wig each day but require more time to put it on.

Medication

Regardless what you see or hear in advertisements, there is no pill you can take or potion you can rub on your head that will bring all your lost hair back. Some medications can slow or stall hair loss, and may even allow you to grow hair back where you've lost it. But no current medication works for everyone, and even when they succeed the levels of success are different for each user. You should not expect fast affects from medication, as in the best cases they'll take months to see initial results. And, you should not expect all of your hair to grow back to levels before you experienced any hair loss.

You can learn more about specific medications on our pages covering hair growth products, Rogaine, Propecia, and hair growth vitamins. Some prescription medications do work very well, but you'll need to take them for the rest of your life assuming you want to maintain your current levels, and there can be side effects. In addition, many medications that work for men do not work for women. See our section on hair loss in women for medications that work better for females.

Herbs and Natural Remedies

There are numerous supposed herbal and natural remedies for hair loss, most pushed by charlatans and are entirely ineffective. There is some evidence that oiling your hair can help with hair loss, likely due to less damage due to the elements, but those willing to spend the day with oil in their hair are few and far between. Saw palmetto is one of the more promising herbs, as it's thought to block an enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT, which is responsible for most genetic hair loss in men. The preferred application is to apply saw palmetto extract externally to your head in the areas where hair has been lost. Like other medications, you'd have to do this for the rest of your life.

Hair Restoration

Hair restoration involves surgery to transplant hair to the balding areas of your head. It's changed substantially over the years, from terrible looking "plug" transplants to scalp reduction and follicular unit transplantation. The best development has been moving from transplanting large "plugs" or grafts to much smaller grafts, making the hair transplant all but unnoticeable. Previously hair grafts had up to 30 hairs per graft. Today, follicular units are surgically moved with an average of 2 hairs per graft. When considering a hair transplant you should talk to your doctor about the number of hairs moved per graft, as it will greatly determine the quality of your transplant.

In any case, with hair transplants hair follicles are taken from the areas of your head where you have hair, and surgically placed on the balding areas of your head. Women generally don't qualify for hair transplants as when their hair thins it tends to thin over the entire scalp. Therefore, there is no place to take the hair from. People with alopecia aerate also don't often qualify for the same reason, since none of their hair is healthy enough for transplant.

Hair restoration is also very expensive, and may require multiple surgeries over time. And, there can be negative side effects and complications like with any surgery. Before deciding to proceed with any hair loss treatment you should remember that normal genetic hair loss is natural, and does not make you any less attractive or valuable.