Hair Loss Advice


Understanding Hair Loss


Understanding Hair Loss

Medically Reviewed On: August 10, 2001

Webcast Transcript:

ANNOUNCER: In the U.S. approximately 80 million people suffer from one of life's most dreaded medical conditions…hair loss. It may not be a question of life or death, but for many men and women out there, it's a serious issue.

BITE: Hair loss runs in my family so I'm a little nervous about losing my hair.

BITE: I have friends that are really bad. They just obsess about it so much.

ANNOUNCER: Some people may have a sense of humor about it.

BITE: It's funny you start losing the hair on your head and you start growing it in other places.

ANNOUNCER: But for others, finding a solution is a top priority. Just ask Neil, who started losing his hair when he was just 21.

NEIL FINN: Prior to that I had fairly long hair and when I noticed I was losing my hair I felt that I was losing my youth in a sense. When I'd go out I'd feel inferior relative to how I felt when I was younger and had longer hair. That necessitated me taking some action.

ANNOUNCER: Fortunately, there are a number of options available to those of us with thinning hair. There's the cosmetic approach, surgical treatments, and of course medications like minoxidil, which is marketed as Rogaine and applied directly to the scalp, or finasteride, also known as Propecia, which is taken in pill form.

These drugs have been proven to slow hair loss in many men, and in some cases may stimulate re-growth.

DR. NEIL SADICK: Neil is an example of a young individual in his mid-twenty's who has early hair loss involving the front and occipital, posterior part of his scalp. If one is going to institute biologic modifier or a drug that slows down hair loss such as minoxidil or Propecia the best time to begin that type of treatment is in the early stages. 

ANNOUNCER: With any medication, side effects are something to think about. How safe are minoxidil and finasteride?

DR. NEIL SADICK: The only real side effects of minoxidil that have been reported are irritation from the alcohol content in the solution itself and occasionally in the higher concentration a little bit of excess hair growth that can occur on the face.

Propecia is also an extremely safe drug. The only side effects that have been reported utilizing this agent is that a very small percentage of patients, under 1%, may have some slight decrease in sexual drive or libido. Another factor to be known about Propecia is that it can lower the screening test for prostate cancer called the PSA. So it's important for individuals taking Propecia to let their urologist know they're on this medication.

ANNOUNCER: So much for the side effects. But what about the results?

DR. NEIL SADICK: Remember we cannot tell the efficacy of treatments for at least 6 months. But the first signs of improvement that patients notice are decreased fall out. Then usually during the first to second year the patients start to notice some new hair growth. So Neil our patient has noticed decreased hair shedding in the shower, which is an early sign that the drug is working.

ANNOUNCER: So hair loss may not be the end of the world. Some might even call it a good thing.

BITE: You know, I have a nice head so it works without hair.

ANNOUNCER: But if you don't think bald is better, consult your doctor about current options. You may not have to part with your hair.