January 31, 2024

Why do I need to take medication if I am already going for a hair transplant?

You are considering undergoing a hair transplant as you have done your research and seen the amazing results that a hair transplant can achieve. You have decided on an experienced hair transplant doctor, who has shown you all his impressive before and after photos of his actual work and you are convinced this is the way to restore your thinning hair. Finally, you think to yourself, that you have stumbled upon the magic formula to leave all your hair woes behind, once and for all and you won’t have to think of anything else for your hair anymore. It may not be so simple.

Hair loss is often a combination of a few factors: health, lifestyle, diet, stress and lack of rest but the most important of all, is genetics. We are programmed to have a certain type of hair, thanks to our parents and ancestors. Like it or not, our hair will take on a certain characteristic as we age. Improving our health, lifestyle and diet will only do so much to slow down the aging process. 

Since 1997, there are medications approved by world health bodies (US FDA, Singapore HSA, Korean FDA, etc) that can help individuals achieve thicker fuller hair. The medications are designed to boost hair growth by targeting factors that cause hair loss, or to support hair growth directly by increasing blood flow, stimulating more hair into the anagen (growth) phase. Used correctly, it can prevent further thinning of hair or to thicken up the existing hair. Some examples of such medication include finasteride, dutasteride,minoxidil and spironolactone. These medications have the highest level of evidence that they work and have decades of clinical data to support their claims of efficacy and safety. 

There are other options like using low level laser therapy, hair supplements, exosomes or scalp treatments, serums and tonics to support existing hair growth. While these treatments have less scientific evidence, anecdotally, we see good reviews and feedback from patients when they are consistent with their treatments. On the other hand, medication alone cannot revive hair once it is lost in a particular spot. 

This is where a hair transplant comes in, to restore lost hair so that a fuller result is achieved, with often very impressive and natural results. This is the reason that a hair transplant procedure achieves very high satisfaction rates not only for the patient, but even for the medical team carrying out the procedure. A hair transplant adds hair to where there is currently no hair. And the hair will grow naturally and healthily for many years to come. 

A hair transplant however, will not stop existing hairs from dropping. While it can fill in the gaps amongst existing hairs, it will not stop current hairs in that area from dropping out, since those hairs are still vulnerable to the effects of balding in time to come. This is why medication is very important to prevent that from happening. Unless one’s hair is very stable and not changing for the past few years (and this is quite rare), there is always a risk that the existing hair will continue to thin in the years to come. And that is the reason medication like finasteride, minoxidil, hair vitamin supplements, hair lasers, scalp treatments may be used together with a hair transplant in order to slow down further hair loss.

Speak to your doctor for longer term plans so that your hair transplant results are going to last a long time. Safeguard your hair and investment early, as hair is a very precious and limited resource that is so important for our confidence and well-being.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Harold Ma

Think Hair, Think Dr. Harold.

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