Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), Hair Loss and Propecia

Androgens are the male sex hormones–the hormones responsible for the formation and maintenance of male characteristics in men. The best known androgen is testosterone. Another androgen, called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), is actually more potent than testosterone, and is a major factor in the creation of male attributes.

However, men who have an abundance of DHT will experience male-pattern balding. The drug Propecia (finasteride) inhibits the action of DHT, and has been used to treat male-pattern balding. Studies have shown that some patients taking Propecia stopped losing their hair and others experienced some regrowth of hair.

Like most drugs, Propecia can have side effects, which include sexual dysfunction and/or breast growth (gynecomastia).

Propecia is administered as a daily pill. It is not effective for all men. Its effect is not immediate, and patients are advised to continue to take the drug for a full twelve months before deciding if it works for them.

If a positive outcome is experienced, the daily pill must be taken indefinitely if the results are to be maintained. Men who stop taking the drug will experience both the loss of any hair that grew as a result of taking Propecia, and a continuation of their hair loss.

By contrast, a hair transplant permanently replaces lost hair, typically with no side effects. Post-surgical medication required after the transplant will be of short duration. If the patient has male pattern balding and wants to address continued hair loss on the non-surgical follicles, he may choose to utilize drug therapy or have another hair transplant sitting. Hair transplant surgery, by a good hair transplant doctor, results in a natural and permanent restoration of lost hair. It can also be a cost-effective solution to hair loss, compared to a life-long regimen of drug therapy.