You ask an ostensibly straightforward question. For the following
reasons, there is, unfortunately, no simple answer. To begin with, in
women as well as men the most common form of hair loss (androgenetic
alopecia) is triggered by genetic and environmental factors not
entirely understood, even today. Thus, a hair loss treatment which
may work very well for one person will sometimes work far less well
This is one important reason why medicine is beginning to evolve from
a population-based approach to treatments designed to treat the
individual. However, at the present time, several options are
available to treat pattern hair loss. The most common drug-based
choices are minoxidil and finasteride, sold in various forms but most
commonly by the trade names Rogaine? and Propecia? respectively.
Both drugs have shown promise in arresting, and in some cases,
reversing hair loss. Each has also been linked to potentially
undesirable side effects. Another treatment option involves non-drug
The advantage of the non-drug approach is that the treatments are
typically quite safe. The disadvantage is that, with rare exceptions,
the products have not been successfully tested in placebo-controlled,
double blind clinical studies.
The third approach is surgical hair restoration. A strong advantage
of surgical hair restoration is the permanance of the result. The
disadvantage, in the wrong surgeon's hands, is precisely the same
permanance of the outcome. Thus, the key to a happy transplant
patient is choosing one's treating surgeon wisely. There are a number
of highly qualified board certified hair transplant surgeons
practicing today. For exampe, in the New York area, Dr. John Frank
from MHR has established an excellent reputation.
The future of hair loss treatment may involve stem cell therapy and/or
gene therapy or some combination of both. In the meantime, one's best
advocate in evaluating the various treatment choices is usually one's
primary care provider. There are also several excellent resources for
information on hair loss, such as hairsite.com.
Although the problem is immensely distressing and emotiionally
upsetting it is important to gather information and become an educated
consumer before undertaking any treatment modality. This is
absolutely not something you should be pushed into. If a company or
individual tries to do so, you're advised to run in the opposite
Once you are armed with solid information, however, it is indeed
possible to arrive at a sensible treatment plan that can yield good
Geno Marcovici, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer