Treatment options for male pattern baldness

Patient

Q: I am 29 years old, how can i reduce my hair loss.

Doctor

A:   The most common type of hair loss is an inherited condition called androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness, and can affect between 30 to 40 % of men and women. In men, androgenetic alopecia is characterized by gradual hair thinning that most often affects the crown and frontal areas of the scalp. In many men, the hairline around the temples regresses. As it moves back to the midscalp, an M-shaped hair pattern develops. The hair in areas affected by hair loss may be of various lengths and thickness, and the presence of uneven lengths and texture is a classic sign of male pattern balding. Two medications, minoxidil and finasteride, are available to treat male pattern balding in men. Minoxidil promotes hair growth by lengthening the growth phase of hair follicles and causing more follicles to produce hair. The hairs that are produced tend to be larger and thicker. The 5 percent solution is more effective in men and can be purchased without a prescription. Finasteride is a pill that decreases the level of a hormone in the blood, resulting in an increased amount of hair covering more of the scalp. Men can take finasteride by mouth at a dose of 1 milligram (mg) per day. Higher doses of finasteride (such as those used to treat some prostate conditions) can cause side effects including erectile dysfunction and decreased sex drive. However, such side effects are rarely seen with the 1 mg dose used to treat hair loss. Surgical treatment of hair loss may be an alternative option including hair transplantation, in which healthy follicles from other parts of the scalp are transplanted to areas affected by baldness. Scalp reduction is another procedure sometimes performed. In scalp where bald patches of the scalp are removed and the remaining skin is sewn together. I would advise discussing these treatment options with your family doctor.

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