Over 85% of men will experience hair loss or hair thinning at some time in their lives. While some embrace the loss, many men are looking for solutions to the problem. But...can you really regrow hair? There are several solutions available and we want to know what works best, what is most economical, and what has the fewest side effects.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
The PRP industry is growing. People are realizing that PRP is a safe and effective cure for many things, and luckily, hair loss is one of them! Typically a person will receive 4-6 treatments and then 1-2 annual treatments going forward for maintenance. The process includes numbing the scalp and injecting small amounts of PRP into the scalp at the level of the hair follicle to stimulate inactive follicles to regenerate and active follicles to grow thicker hairs.
PRP for hair loss receives an average 7 out of 10 on the satisfaction scale from men suffering from androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) in a 2014 study (2). Of 12 reputable studies, 10 show positive benefits including postivie results in hair pull tests (shedding), follicle thickness, and follicle reactivation. (3) What does all this boil down to? It works. The growth factors contained in the PRP are able to save current hair and even regrow hair that a person has lost.
The initial investment in PRP is typically several thousand dollars. This is dependent on the number of treatment required and the quality of equipment used. PRP is one place you don't want to skip. The equipment the office uses determines the PRP quality and that is extremely important for good outcomes. You should always ask what platelet concentration an office expects. Anything under 5 is a no go. If you're going to spend your hard earned cash, be sure you are getting quality goods. PRP also requires 1-2 treatments a year for maintenance and these typically range from $500-$1000.
PRP Side Effects
Side effects are rare with PRP. The most common side effects is redness and swelling immediately following the procedure, which can last for up to 3 days. Of course, these are injections so pinpoint bleeding is also possible. Side effects are rare and most people can go back to work immediately following the treatment.
Rogaine is a popular over the counter drug (Minoxidil) widely used for hair loss. It is applied topically twice a day to the scalp. It is thought to work by enlarging the blood vessels near the hair follicle to extend the growth phase, keeping more hair on the head longer.
"Rogaine has been shown to be most effective in people under 40 years old and for those who start using it at the first signs of hair loss. It won’t help people who’ve already gone completely bald." 1
While there are few accurate studies depicting the effectiveness of Rogaine, in a clinical study that led to the drug’s approval in 1987, 62% of nearly one thousand men using 5% minoxidil reported a reduction in hair loss. The drug was rated as “very effective” in 16% of participants, “effective” in 48%, and “moderately effective” in 21%, and “ineffective” in 16% for hair regrowth.
Rogaine or Minoxidil is very affordable. It costs $20-$30 per month. However, the effectiveness of it may negate the relatively low cost as you must use it for at least 4-6 months to assess if it is effective and since it is more than half of people using it are unsatisfied with results...it may be a waste of money.
Rogaine side effects
Possible side effects include:
severe scalp irritation
unwanted growth of facial hair
chest pain, fast heartbeats
swelling in your hands or feet, rapid weight gain
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out
headache, dizziness, confusion
flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling)
While Rogaine is inexpensive, and easy to access, its effectiveness is debatable and won't continue to work after you quit using it. The hassle of twice a day application turns many people off along with the common side effects of burning and itching.
PRP is more effective according the clinical trials and having to have a short procedure done just 1-2 times per year is much more convenient than a twice a day topical application. It may be a larger investment upfront, but when you get results....that's what really matters!
2. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2014 Apr-Jun; 7(2): 107–110.
3. Skin Appendage Disord. "Effectiveness of Platelet-Rich Plasma for Androgenetic Alopecia: A Review of the Literature"2018 Jan; 4(1): 1–11