Many sufferers of male pattern baldness try hard to find ways to stop them losing more hair and also to regain their lost hair. There are a variety of options for those looking to achieve this and we take a look at some of them below.
There are a huge range of creams, shampoos and lotions on the market that can help prevent hair loss and stimulate re-growth. Most of these topical treatments contain minoxidil, which is clinically shown to stimulate hair growth after about 12 weeks of use. It is most effective for men under 40 with recent hair loss, but can be used by others also for similar results. However, those who opt for this male pattern baldness treatment need to keep up regular use of the product, as it can sometimes take up to a year to reach full effect.
Minoxidil-based topical treatments can be bought over the counter, but doctors can also prescribe a range of other treatments. These include finasteride, a drug taken daily in tablet form that works by preventing the hormone testosterone being converted to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink, so blocking its production allows the hair follicles to regain their normal size.
Studies have suggested finasteride can increase the number of hairs people have (hair count) and can also improve how people think their hair looks. However, it usually takes three to six months of continuously using finasteride before any effect is seen and baldness usually returns once the tablets are no longer being taken.
Wigs or toupees are an option for those who have suffered extensive hair loss and have found other treatments ineffective. A good quality wig can often be hard to tell apart from real hair and, indeed, the most expensive wigs are made out of actual human hair. The downside is that these can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds, can be difficult to maintain and need replacing every few years. Cheaper, acrylic wigs are also available but these can be itchy, hot to wear and look less realistic than human hair wigs.
If other treatments fail and you don't fancy sporting a toupee for the rest of your life, surgery may be an option. There are several procedures available to help combat baldness. These include the hair transplant, as made famous by Wayne Rooney, where hair follicles where the hair is still growing are grafted onto the hairless areas. Within six months, the hair should settle and start to re-grow. Another option is artificial hair implants, where synthetic fibres are placed into the scalp under local anaesthetic. However, the NHS warns that artificial hair implantation carries serious risks of infection and scarring and is not recommended by dermatologists.