Hair Transplants vs Alternative Therapies

Hair transplant procedures are becoming increasingly popular across the UK, with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) reporting that male pattern baldness affects 30% of men under 30 and the NHS stating it affects around half of all men by the age of 50.

It’s probable that this is in direct correlation to the advancements in technology and techniques, making the surgical procedure safer and giving more natural, even results. In addition, male celebrities are going public with their hair transplant results and the benefits, which could give those unsatisfied with their hairlines the confidence to go ahead with restoration treatments.

Surgical treatments to restore hairlines can prove extremely effective for those who have suffered a significant amount of loss, and are also suitable for people with conditions like androgenetic alopecia, or scarring from injury, medical procedures and burns.

That being said, any reputable and ethical hair restoration clinic should assess each client individually in the initial consultation, and ensure that they’re aware of all their treatment options – surgical and otherwise. But what other hair restoration solutions are out there that can be used in conjunction with, or independent of, a hair transplant and how effective are they?

Thickening shampoos with caffeine

It’s claimed that caffeine is able to counteract the suppression of hair growth induced by testosterone and perhaps even stimulate hair growth. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support this. In a best-case scenario, a thickening shampoo may make hair appear thicker for a short amount of time, but it won’t help hair regrowth or reverse thinning.

Oral supplements

Whilst there are many supplements on the supermarket shelves that can improve hair condition, they won’t be able to prevent genetic pattern baldness. However, they can prove useful when used in conjunction with hair transplant procedures to promote healthy and strong regrowth. Key ingredients to look out for are iron which is vital for the regrowth cycle, vitamin A to keep the scalp healthy and conditioned, and amino acids are thought to help the body produce all-important keratin.

Steroid injections

Steroid injections can encourage new hair growth which is sometimes visible within four weeks, they can cause side effects and leave physical marks, including short-term depressions on the skin. The procedure needs to be repeated every four to six weeks, and could cause temporary thinning of the skin and other side effects.

Steroid creams, gels and ointments

This form of topical treatment is easy to apply and is reputed to stimulate hair growth, and is considered easy and with minimal side effects for those with less extensive hair loss, however its efficacy could be limited by how well it’s absorbed into an individual’s scalp.

PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy

Also known as the ‘vampire hairlift’, PRP is a great treatment for those in the early stages of hair loss. During the procedure, blood taken from the patient is processed in a machine and then injected back in to the areas of scalp hair loss. The machine removes the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) from red blood cells, which is believed to stimulate new stem cells. PRP can potentially encourage hair regrowth, resulting in visibly thicker-looking hair. It also comes with the added benefit of no allergy risks, as the blood is drawn from the patient’s own vein. However, given that PRP is a relatively new treatment, there is little concrete evidence to prove it makes a significant difference.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy involves the application of chemicals such as diphencyprone (DPCP) to the scalp to cause an allergic reaction, in order to alter the immune system. This form of treatment demands constant activity, and patients who report successful hair regrowth must continue treatment to maintain the progress they’ve made, and it may lead to skin irritation and itching.

Low-level laser treatment

Ultraviolet light is shone directly onto any bald spots on the head using this treatment. The idea is that the photons are absorbed by any weak cells to encourage hair regrowth. The low-dose laser treatment invigorates circulation and stimulation that is thought to encourage the follicles to regrow hair. This procedure is non-invasive, painless and widely considered safe. However, due to inconsistent results across patients following the treatment, the conclusion of the medical community seems to be that it appears to work for some patients, but not for others. It also appears to be less effective for people with extensive hair loss, as opposed to those in early stages.

Scalp reduction

Although extremely popular 30 years ago, scalp reduction is now usually used only to treat extreme cases of alopecia or traumatic burns. It is the process of removing nonhair-bearing skin from the scalp and allowing the remaining hair-bearing skin to be stretched over the area, essentially cutting away areas of balding. Although the procedure can be performed under local anaesthesia, it bears a high risk of complications, which can often lead to further corrective surgeries. Some patients have also claimed that a scalp reduction can lead to an unnatural appearance due to the hair continuing to grow in its original direction, as well as noticeable scarring.

Scalp micropigmentation

Tattooing has recently become a popular way of dealing with hair loss. Officially known as scalp micropigmentation, the cosmetic hair loss solution in a non-invasive treatment and uses a digital permanent makeup machine equipped with a microneedle. The procedure can take up to five hours in one sitting, and almost certainly requires follow-up sessions to ensure full coverage. However, the results help to create the illusion of hair on the scalp. Of course, it’s worth noting that scalp micropigmentation won’t encourage your hair to grow back!

The verdict

Whilst there’s a great range of options out there, it’s clear that there’s no conclusive evidence to show that any of the alternative therapies above can prevent further hair loss in the long term. For anyone out there that’s concerned about hair loss and considering treatment, there’s really no substitute for consulting a professional hair clinic. There are so many products and treatments out there, and it’s important to find the one that right for you. It would be advisable to book a consultation to discuss your options with a hair restoration expert before deciding how to proceed. Accredited, reputable clinics usually offer a free consultation where you can expect to be offered knowledgeable, impartial advice, as well as information on preventing further hair loss.

Although some procedures appear lower cost than others, it is essential that you select a qualified practitioner that can advise you of the risks associated with treatments for hair loss, and provide attentive aftercare to ensure optimum results.

By Sophie Matthews, JUVIDA Clinics

About Juvida Clinics

JUVIDA Clinics provides its clients with the best results through its state-of-the-art equipment and team of qualified hair transplant surgeons. Based in Skipton, North Yorkshire but boasting a clientele from around the globe and celebrity endorsement, JUVIDA Clinics prides itself on honest and ethical advice, bespoke treatments, a fantastic customer journey and attentive service. JUVIDA Clinics is currently the only UK practice to currently hold the prestigious ARTAS™ Platinum Practitioner status, in recognition of its excellence in customer care in a safe, relaxed environment. It is also home to the ARTAS™ European Training Academy, thanks to its industry-leading experts in robotic transplant treatments.

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