Finasteride is a chemical treatment, prescribed by doctors, for patients suffering with hair loss. Usually taken orally, finasteride is designed to slow further hair loss from occurring. It is a fantastic preventative measure for patients worried about male pattern hair loss, helping to fend off the need for a hair transplant.
What is Finasteride?
Are you suffering with the effects of hair loss and unsure of the measures you need to take in the future? Then, Finasteride is certainly something to consider.
Finasteride is a chemical treatment used to slow down the effects of hair loss. It is available over the counter of most pharmacies in the UK (Boots, Superdrug etc.), making it one of the most popular hair loss drugs on the market today. After the recent pandemic, some companies even offer Finasteride on a monthly subscription service, delivering straight to your door monthly or weekly.
In a study performed by the Indian Institute of Dermatology (2014), results showed Finasteride to be effective at reducing hair loss in 59.6% of patients. Whilst not everyone will be able to see positive results, it is certainly a treatment to consider before thinking about more drastic measures such as a hair transplant, or PRP treatment.
In many cases, Finasteride is a preemptive measure you can take before a hair transplant. Whilst male pattern baldness is inevitable in almost all cases, it is always useful to try and slow your hair loss down.
Moreover, Finasteride is generally safe to use for an extended period of time. This means that, if you’re suffering with hair loss and struggling to fund the cost of a hair transplant, a monthly subscription to Finasteride may be more manageable in your 20s and 30s.
Can Finasteride Cure Male Pattern Baldness?
So, you may be asking if Finasteride can permanently regrow your hair. Unfortunately, no. This is not the case.
Finasteride is not a “cure” for hair loss. Instead, it is a drug that slows the process of male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) in patients. In this regard, it is much better to think of Finasteride as a treatment that “moderates” or “slows” your hair loss.
The truth is, androgenetic alopecia is a condition that will inevitably cause balding over the course of your life. For every missed dose, your head will continue to balding.
The closest treatment that comes to a “cure” for pattern baldness is a hair transplant. This is the only method that enables hair follicles to regrow in balding areas, for years after your surgery. If you want a long term solution for your hair loss, finasteride treatment will never compare to hair transplant!
How does Finasteride Work?
Finasteride works by blocking an enzyme in your body called 5-alpha-reductase. This little enzyme lives inside your body and turns your body’s testosterone into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Whilst DHT is an important hormone that gives men their sex drive, and regulates their lean muscle mass, it is also responsible for accelerating balding.
Before taking any treatment, elevated levels of DHT in the body reduce the “anagen” phase of the hair growth cycle and increase the “telogen” phase. Cutting through the jargon, this means the time your hair follicles spend growing is reduced, leaving your follicles to shed and lie dormant forever.
Finasteride is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, meaning it stops your body from producing DHT. As long as you choose to keep taking finasteride, this will prevent further hair loss from occurring. It is designed to enable the hair growth cycle to continue occurring, keeping your hair on your crown and temples.
This is also why it is critical to use Finasteride at an early point on your hair loss journey. As has been previously stated earlier, this is not a cure but a preventative measure. The earlier you start taking finasteride, the more effective it is going to be. Once a follicle becomes dormant, it will never awaken. So it is wise to be proactive with a chemical treatment.
How Effective is Finasteride ?
Clinical studies have shown Finasteride to be an effective treatment in slowing down the effects of hair loss. In a 1999 study conducted by McClellan and Markham, they concluded:
‘Oral finasteride promotes scalp hair growth and prevents further hair loss in a significant proportion of men with male pattern hair loss. With its generally good tolerability profile, finasteride is a new approach to the management of this condition, for which treatment options are few’.
In a study looking at the long term efficacy of Finasteride (Bernstein Medical Centre for Hair Restoration 2012), results showed 69% of participants to show signs of hair growth after 10 years taking the chemical treatment. Although expensive compared to a hair transplant, this is certainly an option for hair loss sufferers.
So, Finasteride does seem to be effective over the short and long term. However, as this is an oral medication taken daily, it may quickly become expensive and a pain to remember every day.
How Long does Finasteride take to work?
Generally, Finasteride should show results around three to four months of use. This enables patients to see how effective the treatment is over the course of numerous hair cycles. Although, it is definitely worth considering that there are many individual differences.
If finasteride is not working for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of different treatment options available to you. Whether you want to try another chemical treatment like minoxidil, or want a hair transplant, there is always a solution for you!
Are There Side Effects When Taking Finasteride?
Finasteride side effects are rare, but can occur. The most common side effects, affecting roughly one in one hundred people, are erectile dysfunction and problems ejaculating.
Affecting roughly one in one thousand people are:
- lumps, or hives on the skin
- swelling of the chest
- discharge from the nipples (an early sign of breast cancer)
- unusually low mood (depression)
- Allergic reaction
If you do begin to experience any side effects, then consult a healthcare professional. If you’re concerned about adverse effects, it is important to consider that these cases are rare and, mostly, non life threatening.
When Should I Stop Taking Finasteride?
There is no need to cease taking finasteride if you’re not suffering from side effects or allergic reactions. You can take Finasteride for as long as you like.
However, some patients do stop Finasteride treatment if they believe nothing is happening after a few months of treatment. If the treatment bares no results in the short term, its unlikely to produce positive results after five or six months.
Finasteride can also begin to lose its effectivity over time. If you feel this is the case, you can potentially think of upping your dose from 1mg (typical dose of most suppliers) to 5mg. Equally, you can stop taking your chemical treatment and think about other medicines or options.
Are there better options that Finasteride for Hair Growth
Although Finasteride may seem cheap in the short term, it will only work as long as you keep taking it. This leaves customers using Finasteride tablets every day for many years, coming at a great cost. There are solutions that are cheaper, more reliable, and most better results in the long term.
Finasteride is no cure for hair loss. The only long term solution to end your hair loss concerns is getting a hair transplant. This is where donor hair are taken from the back of your scalp and implanted onto your balding or thinning areas. It is only through this method, that your hair grows permanently.
When looking at the cost over the long term, a hair transplant may also be a cheaper option than finasteride. Most monthly subscriptions to finasteride cost between £25-35 p/m. Over the course of a year, that is £360. A figure that amounts to £3,600 over 10 years, £5,400 over 15, and £7,200 over 20. If you are interested in purchasing finasteride, please contact us for more information.
At Harley Street Hair Transplant Clinic, the average hair transplant costs between £3,000 and £7,000. Costing a similar amount to Finasteride (over the course of a number of years) a hair transplant costs a similar amount, and is the only real solution that can get your hair growing back naturally!
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