How to determine what is causing your hair loss?

At BKS Hair Restoration Dr. Shah begins by gathering a history and performing a clinical exam.

The next step is performing a trichoscopy which involves viewing the hair follicles and surrounding skin under high magnification.

If he suspects that the cause of your hair loss could be a disease, vitamin deficiency, hormone imbalance, or infection, you may need a blood test or scalp biopsy.

These skin and blood test can often help determine the root cause of your hair loss and lead your physician to the best treatment options.

No one hair loss treatment works for everyone

Once we have determined the cause of your hair loss your physician will be able to tell you whether treatment is recommended. Sometimes, your hair will regrow on its own, making treatment unnecessary.

When would a physician recommend treatment for hair loss?

While your hair may regrow on its own, Dr. Shah may recommend treatment to help it grow more quickly. Sometimes, treatment is essential to prevent further hair loss.

A treatment plan for hair loss may include one or more of the following.

At-home / Over-the-counter treatments for hair loss:

At-home treatments offer convenience, and you can buy many of them without a prescription. Because studies show that the following can help, your doctor may include one (or more) in your at-home treatment plan.

Minoxidil (Rogaine®):  Minoxidil can help early hair loss; it cannot regrow an entire head of hair.

To use minoxidil, you apply it to the scalp as directed, usually once or twice a day.

Minoxidil tends to be more effective when used in combination with other treatments for hair loss. It takes up to a year to realize the full benefits of minoxidil. If you stop applying minoxidil, you lose its benefits. When starting minoxidil use, you may paradoxically experience a shedding phase in the beginning. This is the shedding of weak hair which will be replaced by stronger thicker hair.

Laser for at-home use: You can buy laser caps and combs to treat hair loss at home. Some studies have shown promising results with these devices.

In one study, more than 200 men and women who had hereditary hair loss were given either a laser hair comb or a sham device that looked like a laser comb. The patients used the device that they were given 3 times per week for 26 weeks.

The researchers found that some patients using the laser rather than the sham device saw overall thicker and fuller hair.

It’s important to understand that not everyone who used a laser saw regrowth.

More studies are needed to find out who is most likely to benefit from this treatment and whether these devices cause long-term side effects.

Procedures to help regrow hair

Hair transplant: If you have an area of thinning or balding due to male (or female) pattern baldness, your doctor may recommend a hair transplant as an option. This can be an effective and permanent solution.

Injections of corticosteroids: To help your hair regrow, your dermatologist injects this medication into the bald (or thinning) areas. These injections are usually given every 4 to 8 weeks as needed, so you will need to return to your dermatologist’s office for treatment.

This is considered the most effective treatment for people who have a few patches of alopecia areata, a condition that causes hair loss. In one study of 127 patients with patchy alopecia areata, more than 80% who were treated with these injections had at least half of their hair regrow within 12 weeks.

Hair transplant: If you have an area of thinning or balding due to male (or female) pattern baldness, your dermatologist may mention a hair transplant as an option. This can be an effective and permanent solution.

To learn more, go to: A hair transplant can give you permanent, natural-looking results.

Laser therapy: If using minoxidil every day or taking medication to treat hair loss seems unappealing to you, laser therapy may be an option. Also called low-level laser therapy, a few studies suggest that this may help:

  • Hereditary hair loss
  • Alopecia areata
  • Hair loss due to chemotherapy
  • Stimulate healing and hair growth after a hair transplant

Studies indicate that laser therapy is safe and painless but requires many treatment sessions. To see a bit of hair growth, you may need several treatments a week for many months.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP): Studies show that this can be a safe and effective hair loss treatment. The procedure involves isolating PRP from a small amount of peripheral blood obtained via venipuncture.

The entire procedure takes about 30-60 minutes and usually doesn’t require any downtime.

You will need to return for repeat injections. Most patients return once a month for 3 months and then once every 6 months.

Within the first few months of treatment, you may notice that you are losing less hair.

Another treatment option is to take prescription medication. The type of medication prescribed will depend on your:

  • Hair loss cause
  • Overall health
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Plans for getting pregnant

With any medication, side effects are possible. Ask your doctor about possible side effects that you might experience while taking one of these medications to treat hair loss. The medications include:

Finasteride (Propecia®):  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this medication to treat male pattern hair loss. When taken as directed, finasteride can:

  • Slow down hair loss
  • Stimulate new hair growth

Finasteride is a pill that you take once a day.

Finasteride tends to be more effective if you begin taking it when you first notice hair loss. If finasteride works for you, you will need to keep taking it to maintain your results. If you stop, you’ll start losing hair again. Before taking this medication, be sure to discuss possible side effects with your dermatologist.

Wigs and concealers

Do you feel uncomfortable taking medication? Does your schedule limit the amount of time you have for treatment? Is the cost of treatment, which insurance generally will not cover, too expensive?

Many types of wigs, including ones that can be custom-made for you, are available. If you’re looking for a concealer, such as a spray or powder that can hide hair loss, you’ll find many products available online.
What is the outcome for someone who has hair loss?
With an accurate diagnosis, many people who have hair loss can see hair regrowth.

It’s important to understand that:

  • Not every type of hair loss can be treated, but a medical hair loss specialist may be able to prevent further hair loss.
  • It can take months before you see results from treatment.
  • Restoring lost hair is a slow and lengthy process and requires significant commitment from the patient.