Dr. Lena Fan: Demystifying Hair Loss Treatments in 2021 – A Doctor’s Approach
|Dr. Lena Fan|
Hair loss, or alopecia, remains a controversial topic in 2021. Despite progress made with emerging evidence in recent years, there has yet to be an unequivocal consensus as to what a safe and efficacious hair loss treatment protocol is.
Fun fact – do you know that it is illegal to advertise on Google by stating that a particular treatment for hair loss “guarantees results” or is “proven to be effective”? Individuals who previously fell prey to less than reputable hair loss treatments online would understandably harbour lingering fear, uncertainty and doubt after hard earned dollars were once spent on ineffective or sham treatments.
Many patients, both male and female, suffering from alopecia, would love a solution to their conditions. However, if you are searching for a single treatment that works for all patients, the harsh truth is that it does not exist.
Why? The growth of hair is a complex process which is affected by a multitude of factors, which includes our age, diet, lifestyle, genetic predisposition, ongoing medication, other pre-existing medical conditions, etc. The list goes on. This is not to say that modern hair loss treatments are ineffective, rather, only through an in-depth understanding of the patient’s condition can we then prescribe a suitable treatment programme that is able to effectively correct or reverse one’s alopecia.
What hair loss and scalp treatments are currently offered by Veritas?
Here are a list of available treatments that we currently provide at Veritas Medical Aesthetics:
- Minoxidil scalp lotion
- CG210 hair spray
- Clearz scalp treatment
- Fotona Hair Restart Laser
- Collagen Induction with PDRN scalp infusion
- Aquapure electroporation
- Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
- FUE Hair transplant
If you noticed, the treatments are grouped based on their level of invasiveness.
Why is this important?
There are different stages of alopecia. At Veritas Medical Aesthetics, we generally try to manage alopecia with non-invasive treatments before opting for minimally invasive ones. Hence, we urge that you come for a proper consultation so that a treatment protocol can be planned.
Let’s take a 40 year old gentleman I recently saw. He was experiencing early onset androgenetic alopecia, with thinning hair over his frontal area. He was concerned about the progression of his condition and tried over-the-counter hair serums and shampoos, only to notice that it continued to worsen. Clinics which he previously visited offered a FUE hair transplant but he had balked at the high costs involved.
After a consultation, examination and investigations, I started him on a regime of topical Minoxidil (1) CG210 spray, and oral Finasteride, and he started to notice fuller and thicker hair over a period of 3 to 6 months. This is a relatively straightforward example of early onset male pattern baldness which improved simply with topical and oral medications.
Let’s discuss another gentleman who had Stage 5 Hamilton-Norwood hair loss at the point of consultation. He had a receding hairline with a bald patch at the vertex. Having been started on topical and oral hair loss medications for a year or so, they had minimal effects in improving his hair loss. After a consult, scalp examination, and some investigations, he was assessed to be a suitable candidate for an FUE hair transplant.
Before embarking on a FUE hair transplant, we had to first optimise the health of his scalp and existing hair follicles, to strengthen the foundation on which hair grows and to boost the thickness and quality of transplanted hair for a best possible outcome. To achieve this, we started him on several treatments of Polydeoxyribonucleotide (PDRN) scalp infusion (2) as well as a programme of Fotona Hair Restart Laser prior to the FUE hair transplant to improve hair density and scalp health, priming for a successful FUE hair transplant.
Are combination hair loss treatments the answer then?
Once again, how treatment combination is selected varies between individuals, depending on the root cause of their hair loss. There are a variety of factors that can lead to hair loss and each of them needs to be examined in isolation as well as in their entirety before treatments can be prescribed.
For example, an individual with an oily scalp who is also experiencing thinning hair is more likely to benefit from a treatment approach including hair lotions, scalp care sessions and PDRN infusions. An individual who has a healthy scalp while experiencing hair loss would benefit more from hair stimulation treatments like Fotona hair restart laser(3).
What is a reasonable expectation of how much time and money I would need to invest to improve moderate hair loss?
With consistency and patience, many patients with hair loss successfully improve or recover. I would say that 3 months of regular treatment is the minimum duration when it comes to treating something as complex as alopecia. Generally, one can expect to see improvements after 3-6 months of appropriate hair care and compliance to doctor prescribed treatments.
Here are some rough numbers of what to expect when it comes to the various treatment options, per treatment course:
- Scalp treatments (topical creams, orals) – starts at S$1,600
- PDRN infusion – Starts at S$2,500
- Fotona Hair Restart Laser – Starts at S$3,000
- FUE Hair Transplant – S$5-7 per strand
There are numerous options available to treat hair loss on the market and it can be tough for patients to truly discern what’s best for them. At the end of the day, I’d advise my patients not to assume the worst before getting a consultation with an experienced doctor who can assess and examine their hair loss or thinning. Once a diagnosis is made, an appropriate treatment plan can then be tailored to effectively address the individual’s condition.
Do you have a question for me?
- Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S., & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug design, development and therapy, 13, 2777–2786. https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S214907
- Lee, S. H., Zheng, Z., Kang, J. S., Kim, D. Y., Oh, S. H., & Cho, S. B. (2015). Therapeutic efficacy of autologous platelet-rich plasma and polydeoxyribonucleotide on female pattern hair loss. Wound repair and regeneration : official publication of the Wound Healing Society [and] the European Tissue Repair Society, 23(1), 30–36. https://doi.org/10.1111/wrr.12250
- Ke, J., Guan, H., Li, S., Xu, L., Zhang, L., & Yan, Y. (2015). Erbium: YAG laser (2,940 nm) treatment stimulates hair growth through upregulating Wnt 10b and β-catenin expression in C57BL/6 mice. International journal of clinical and experimental medicine, 8(11), 20883–20889.