Even though I have had three hair transplant procedures, you must still take some sort of treatment to prevent you from losing your non-transplanted hair.
I liken this to a “fence-open field” effect where if you have a transplant to reconstruct your hairline, you could still end up with a large bald spot if you don’t take some sort of hair loss treatment.
Since February 2014, I have been taking one 1mg pill of finasteride either three to two times a week and I have not noticed any further thinning in my non-transplanted hair.
Before I had my first hair transplant done in 2014, I tried numerous modalities ranging from pills and lotions and sprays to ensure I wouldn’t lose any more natural hair.
What Causes Hair Loss?
When a man loses his hair, he doesn’t automatically go from a full head of hair to a cue ball. The hairs begin a miniaturization process until they become so fine and whispy they fall out. These modalities won’t regrow hair on bald scalp but work by reversing the miniaturization process in thinning hair on the front and back of your scalp.
Before trying any of these modalities, speak with your doctor or a hair transplant surgeon to find out what will best fit your hair restoration needs.
Finasteride — February 2014 to present
Since February 2014, I currently take 1mg of Finasteride (the generic version of Propecia) three times a week on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule and it has worked well in preserving my native hair. Finasteride is an oral prescription medication that blocks the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by inhibiting an enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase. Finasteride comes in a variety of generic forms called Finpecia, Proscor, and Avodart and can also come in 5mg pills where a patient uses a splitter to cut the pill into fourths; although recently doctors and dermatologists no longer recommend doing that.
One month’s supply of 1mg Finasteride costs about $70 but most insurance plans don’t cover it. However, because I don’t take it every day, one bottle can last me up to two months. For as long as I want to keep my native hair, I will continue taking 1mg Finasteride.
Here are the other modalities I have taken over the past three years:
Procerin — October 2011 to January 2012, didn’t do anything
Procerin is a foam and pill combination that comes from saw palmetto extract. You take it twice a day every day and it supposedly mimics the effects of Propecia and Minoxidil. I only did it for three months but didn’t see any noticeable change. One three-month supply costs $136. The foam smelled bad and because I had to take it in the evening, I always had to pee in the middle of the night. Although I didn’t take it long enough to see any substantial change, if anything, it’s nothing more than snake oil.
Propecia — February 2012 to May 2012, nothing but side effects
Propecia is the brand name of Finasteride, the drug I currently take that blocks DHT. For three months I took 1mg of Propecia once a day every day but I experienced numerous sexual side effects from decreased libido, difficulty maintaining an erection, and smaller ejaculate volume. Being the brand name of Finasteride, Propecia costs up to $100 per month and is generally not covered by most insurance plans. If you want to take this medication and not go bankrupt, opt for the generic version.
Minoxidil — May 2012 to December 2013; I kept the hair that I have but I didn’t get anything back.
The generic version of Rogaine, Minoxidil is a topical solution that comes in either a liquid or a foam and dilates the blood vessels in your scalp allowing blood to travel to and nourish thinning hair follicles. Its instructions suggest taking it twice a day every day, however once a day every day is fine so that the liquid will last longer. I switched off between lotion and foam Minoxidil for a while and it did a fine job preventing me from losing any more hair. I found that I got better coverage with the lotion, however the isopropyl alcohol in the lotion irritated my scalp. Drug stores like CVS and Walgreen’s carry their own generic versions of Minoxidil and a three pack can run about $40.
Men can take both Minoxidil and Propecia together as they seem to have a synergistic effect; however, I never took them at the same time as it would have been too expensive to maintain.
Lasercomb — Tried twice during consultations, but never seriously used it
A low-level laser (LLL or 3L), the laser comb stimulates hair follicles and blocks DHT by emitting a laser onto the scalp. I used it twice during my consultations with Bosley and John Satino, but it’s super expensive ranging from $295 to $495.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy — Never tried; inconclusive
PRP therapy is the process of drawing your blood, whipping it up into a centrifuge that separates the blood platelets and then injecting the PRP into thinning areas of your scalp to thicken thinning hair. For a long time throughout my research I wanted to have both an FUE hair transplant with PRP therapy included, however FUE is a low-yield procedure and PRP therapy is at best inconclusive in thickening your non-transplanted hair.
Although some pro athletes have recovered from serious injuries and Russell Gibson who has alopecia areata regrew his hair, the jury is still out as to whether or not it helps regrow hair. Some practices I researched talked it up like the next best thing while others said it was a scam that doctors should be ashamed of pushing toward their patients.