The Young Man Losing Hair: An Update on Current Strategies
In a previous video featured on YouTube and on this Web site, I discussed the dangers of performing hair transplants in men who are too young. Age is a relative thing and it depends on how much baldness one has, how fast that hair loss is, what kind of hair quality (density, thickness, color, curliness, and color:contrast ratio to the scalp), how much miniaturization, etc. that is present to help decide who is a safe, or relatively safe, candidate for surgery. In that widely disseminated video, I discussed that there were really two major things that can be used for hair loss, finasteride and minoxidil. Today, I am happy to report that there are four major ways that I manage male pattern baldness that is particularly effective for the younger male patient who is in the early onset of baldness. The first two are obviously finasteride and minoxidil, which have been thoroughly covered elsewhere on this Web site so I will refrain from further commentary. The other two technologies, laser and PRP/Acell injections, work extremely well just like finasteride and minoxidil for early to moderate hair loss and less effectively (like the two medications) in later stage baldness. I also believe that all four strategies are NOT redundant but truly synergistic, i.e., all of them work together to help hair loss in a cumulative or additive fashion. Let’s discuss these other two methods in greater detail.
Laser technology has been around for quite some time. However, it has taken me a while to vet this technology and ensure that it is both safe and effective. I hate to be portrayed as a charlatan for my efforts or sell a patient something that I could not honestly stand behind. After speaking with numerous colleagues who are trustworthy and also seeing the early results of laser technology, I can say that it is a powerful adjunct to manage hair loss. Not all lasers are created equal, and I believe the LaserCap technology that is present is the singularly best on the market, at least when it comes to mobile devices. It has 240 diodes which is equivalent to large expensive standalone units that would require a patient to drive to the office to undergo three times weekly treatments, which can be costly but more importantly almost impossible to be adherent to. The cap costs $3000, which I know is not inexpensive, but considering that this is so easy to use in which you wear it for 30 minutes 3 times a week and so effective with no side effects I can only espouse how important it is especially for the young man losing hair. Also, the less expensive versions like the iGrow that only has 60 diodes makes you look like a space alien because it resembles a weird helmet device, which you would not feel comfortable in the presence of friends or family. The LaserCap sits underneath a standard baseball cap and is battery packed so it is very discreet. When looking at long-term hair loss, I really cannot imagine at this time a better technology for lifetime use that would add benefit to the standard regimen or be an alternative to finasteride and minoxidil.
As many of you know who read this blog, I believe that platelet rich plasma (PRP) and Acell (porcine matrix) are two things that I cannot live without when performing a hair transplant. I have now been using this technology of just injections into the scalp for early to moderate male pattern baldness in those who are not safe enough to have surgery with outstanding results. I believe that using PRP and Acell in those with early hair loss can be a powerful method of controlling, reversing, and slowing down progression and can work synergistically with other treatment methods. Again, I would like to emphasize that these methods can be either alternatives to standard medication or preferably supplementary to them.