Alternatives to Minoxidil

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There are many treatments that are available to you if you do not wish to use Minoxidil or any of its chemical competitors. For the most part these are surgical solutions and therefore you must think carefully before deciding to go through with any of them as they can be fairly major procedures. You are advised first to seek out other, less invasive, methods of treatment (hence the usefulness of Minoxidil), before considering the options below. Other procedures that need to be discussed include; ultraviolet light, hair transplants, and finally scalp reduction. This article will look at each of them in turn, weighing up their pros and cons.

Ultraviolet treatment

The first, ultraviolet light is the least invasive on this list. Though the science behind it is not fully understood, it is believed that the ultraviolet light, when shined onto the scalp or balding area, will widen the blood vessels, which in turn will cause the hair to strengthen and even re-grow. If you choose this option then you will be given two or three sessions every week. Like Minoxidil it can take up to a year to have any effect. However, it is important to note that there are people who are sceptical about whether it can work at all on male pattern baldness; they argue this is because of the genetic cause of male pattern baldness which means that increased blood flow to the hair will not produce a marked change. A further problem that has been raised concerning ultraviolet light treatment is that it has a high relapse rate and can often have serious side effects such as nausea, changes in the pigmentation of your skin and also an increased risk of skin cancer. As a result of these risks it is no longer as widely used as it once was.

Hair transplant

The next alternative as a treatment for hair loss is hair transplanting. Hair transplant is pretty much what it says on the tin; it is a procedure where a small area of scalp, normally about 1cm wide and about 3cm long is taken from an area where there is hair (normally on the sides and back of the head as this produces the least scaring and is easiest to hide). The number of hairs that are taken varies depending on the operation (and affects the price) though on average between 1,000 and 4,000 hairs are taken. Once this has been done the scalp is divided into groups of hairs which are then grafted onto the balding areas. It is important to know that this is possibly the most effective treatment for hair loss as the hair and skin is taken from your own body so there is minimal chance of rejection, and also the difference is almost instant; unlike Minoxidil and other chemical treatment it does not take months of use to have an effect.

Advantages and disadvantages of hair transplant

Hair transplant has many advantages and disadvantages over other alternatives; such as minimal disturbance to your day. Unlike the chemical treatment, hair transplantation can be done in a small number of sessions which means that unlike Minoxidil you will not have to keep on using it for the rest of your life if you want to see permanent results; thus saving you a large amount of time. A further advantage that it has (though not over Minoxidil) is that, because the hair comes from your own head and is grafted onto your scalp, the effect looks natural, rather than looking as though you have just had hair loss treatment. There are, however major disadvantages to hair transplant as a treatment. The first is that while the effects are instantaneous, they are not always complete in one session; you may need to go back for a number of sessions before the procedure is complete, and with a lapse of anything up to a year between surgeries this means that it can take as long as Minoxidil to achieve its full potential. A second disadvantage is price. While in the long run it is far cheaper than Minoxidil (remember that a 1 month supply costs around £20-60) in the short term it is incredibly expensive. Prices range from £2,600 to £13,900 which is a large amount of money. And because it is not prescribed by the NHS the money has to come out of your pocket.

Scalp reduction

The third alternative treatment that needs to be looked at is scalp reduction. During the procedure for scalp reduction, the skin on the crown and the top of the head is often inflated by a balloon for several weeks to stretch it. Once this has been done, the excess skin is then cut off and the two opposing sides brought together across the scalp. While it is available on the NHS it is generally not advisable as a treatment for male pattern baldness. Despite this, though, it was popular in the 70s and 80s as a treatment though with the rise of other treatments such as Minoxidil and hair transplants, it has become increasingly rare. It is also very patient specific as you have to have a reasonable amount of skin elasticity for it to work. One of the biggest disadvantages of this treatment is that it cannot be done to combat baldness on the hair line because of the amount of scaring that it involves. This added with the side effects which include swelling and temporary numbness of the area mean that it is an operation that is rarely carried out any longer.

Conclusions

Through this then, we can see that there are a number of alternatives to Minoxidil; however, for the most part they are either incredibly expensive (such as hair transplant) or are invasive or potentially dangerous (such as ultraviolet light treatment which causes an increase in the risk of cancer). It is therefore advisable that you look at other, non-invasive, treatments such as Minoxidil or Finasteride, before you consider these forms of treatment.

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