Finasteride: non-surgical treatment to prevent hair loss
Finasteride (brand name Propecia) is an approved, prescription only medication to help treat hair loss. It works by changing a natural chemical process in your body that causes alopecia. There is an enzyme in your body (called a type II 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor) that converts testosterone to the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
It is thought baldness is caused by hair follicles being overly sensitive to DHT. With too much DHT present, the follicle reacts badly and the growth cycle becomes shorter and the hair becomes thinner. So a drug that reduces the development of DHT is an effective treatment against future hair loss. The drug comes in tablets of 1mg and is taken daily.
In clinical studies, Finasteride, like Minoxidil , was shown to work on both the crown area and the hairline, but is most successful in the crown area.
Scientifically proven success in non-surgical hair replacement
In a large, 5-year study of men with mild to moderate hair loss, 2 out of 3 men who took a daily 1mg dose of Finasteride re-grew some hair. The control group of men who did not take the drug all showed some sign of hair loss.
And the results were visible. The participants were photographed and then independent dermatologists reviewed the images. For 48% of those treated with Finasteride there was a visible growing of hair. And a further 42% had no visible signs of further hair loss over the duration of the study.
That means 90% of the study’s participants had a visible benefit from taking the drug, as measured by independent experts. Across the study as a whole, the group taking Finasteride had a hair count above the baseline and showed an increasing difference ahead of the placebo group who did not take the drug.
Another recent 10-year study of 118 men who took the drug daily for 10 years found that 86% continued to benefit – showing increased or stable rates of hair growth – over the entire length of the study. That means in 10 years only 14% of participants experienced any further hair loss.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss the scientific evidence for the efficacy of Finasteride, we would be happy to answer any questions you have. Please call us on 020 7666 3147.
Are there any downsides to Finasteride?
One of the only issues with Finasteride is that it is only effective for as long as it is taken (a common challenge with non-surgical treatments for hair loss). Any hair gained or maintained during treatment will be lost within 6 to 12 months after ending the treatment.
But potential side effects are very unlikely, with 94% of patients reporting no adverse issues – with no patients reporting depression or gynecomastia (male breast enlargement). This study concluded that androgenic alopecia can be treated well with Finasteride and that this effectiveness does not diminish over time. In other words, the drug continues to work well as you get older and is well tolerated by the body.
Some users of this type of medication try to save money by using a cheaper drug that comes in 5mg doses and then breaking the pill into parts to replicate the dose of the more expensive Propecia. This can be dangerous in the presence of pregnant women, or women who are likely to become pregnant. The dust from this drug (which is not designed to be broken in this way), even in small doses, can cause birth defects. Our advice, don’t take the chance and always strictly follow the instructions included with medications.