Living with hair loss is not fun, no matter how severe or light. Whether your overall hair is thinning or some hair is disappearing at the temples, the thought of going bald will always make you tense.
Nothing can compare to the sense of assurance of having a full head of luscious hair. Everyone loves having thick and strong hair and the intense burst of confidence and self-esteem that comes with it.
So, if you are considering a hair transplant but are not sure if it is the right option, you are not alone. A growing number of people are exploring alternatives to traditional hair transplants.
This article will explore everything you want to know about the different hair transplant alternatives available. We'll discuss the pros and cons of each option, so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.
Hair loss can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem but many treatments can help. A hair transplant is one popular way, but it can also be expensive and has its risks like hair transplant rejection or permanent scarring.
Besides surgery, there are also minimally invasive procedures like, platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP), low-level light therapy (LLLT), and scalp micropigmentation. There are also oral medications like minoxidil, and finasteride.
However, for those who prefer not to undergo surgery or minimally invasive treatments and drugs, there are options for natural alternatives like mineral supplements and hair care products that can thicken and increase the amount of their hair.
Risks and side effects of hair transplant surgery
Although hair transplant surgery is generally safe, there are certain risks and side effects associated with the procedure. The most common side effects include the following at the donor or recipient sites:
More extreme side effects can occur in rare cases, such as:
- Severe infection
- Skin discoloration
- Hair transplant rejection
- Permanent scarring
Even worse, there is also a risk that the transplanted hair will not ‘take’ or will not grow long-term, leading you back to square one.
Consequently, it is important to speak to a doctor or hair loss specialist before undergoing hair transplant surgery to ensure that the procedure is right for you and to discuss any potential risks and side effects.
Read more: Hair Loss After Surgery According To A Dermatologist
Do non-surgical hair replacements really work?
Several studies have shown that non-surgical treatment can prevent hair thinning and loss, but the effects vary depending on the individual.
The major advantage of non-surgical hair replacement is that it is non-invasive and most of the time painless.
The risks associated with hair transplantation include infections, scarring, and anaesthetic complications: all of which do not exist with non-surgical treatments.
What is the best non-surgical hair loss treatment?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best non-surgical hair loss treatment will vary depending on the cause of your hair loss.
Here's a list of things to consider:
- Is it in your budget?
- Are the side effects worth it?
- Is it convenient?
- Is it effective? Will it work for your hair loss?
- Is it accessible?
The majority of people wants something that ticks all of those boxes:
- More affordable than most hair loss treatments
- No harmful side effects
- Seamlessly integrated with your shower routine
- Clinically proven to reduce hair loss on users
These things are easier said than done, but here's a product that can be a game changer. Scandinavian Biolabs has the Bio-Pilixin® Activation Serum for both men and women that aims to slow down and minimize hair loss.
The Bio-Pilixin® Activation Serum has clinically proven results with 93% of users reporting a reduction in hair loss after 150 days and 73% claiming an increase in hair density.
What are the best non-surgical hair transplant alternatives?
Some of the best non-surgical hair transplant alternatives are platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP), low-level light therapy (LLLT), scalp micropigmentation, minoxidil, and finasteride.
These non-surgical alternatives to hair transplants don't require surgery, anaesthesia, or a long recovery time. Some of these procedures can be performed in a single office visit and don't require any downtime.
There are also more natural and affordable hair transplant alternatives such as coconut oil, aloe vera, onion juice, iron, biotin, and zinc, although these require more time to work.
PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)
PRP, or platelet-rich plasma, is the most effective and active non-surgical hair restoration technique. Platelets produce PRP in the patient's blood, stimulating hair growth through injection into the scalp.
When injected into the scalp, PRP acts as a fertilizer for the hair, strengthening and thickening it. Since PRP requires the patient to give their blood, it is more invasive than other non-surgical hair loss treatments.
To separate red blood cells from plasma, doctors use centrifugation to separate a small amount of blood from a patient's hand. Plasma contains only accumulated growth factors. PRP is then gently injected into thinning scalps to replenish it.
Generally, the procedure takes about half an hour, although it varies depending on the area treated. PRP can be performed only with your blood; a blood draw is required for each treatment.
Low-level Light Therapy (LLLT)
Patients are sometimes limited in their surgical options due to high costs and a lack of hair follicle donor supply. The need for more successful therapies has led low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to emerge as a novel approach to treating male pattern hair loss.
Due to the easy navigation, low cost, and great safety profile of commercially available LLLT devices, LLLT is becoming more widespread.
Currently, 29 FDA-cleared devices are available to treat pattern hair loss in males or females. The laser beam stimulates the hair follicle cells at a low energy level and safe wavelength.
This allows them to function better for a longer time. Patients can also receive laser therapy via a helmet that uses low-level lasers. When it comes to home care or a more flexible schedule, an LLLT can be a great option.
According to a study conducted in 2013, laser hair treatment resulted in a 39% increase in hair growth among 41 males aged 18 to 48. In another 2014 study, low-level laser therapy was found safe and effective for both men and women.
Scalp micro-pigmentation (SMP) is a minimally invasive procedure that can be used as an alternative to hair transplants. SMP is a popular treatment for those suffering from hair loss due to alopecia, male pattern baldness, or other conditions.
The treatment involves the placement of pigments in the epidermis that match the color of the patient's hair. These pigments create the illusion of a fuller head of hair, even in cases of severe hair loss.
SMP is an excellent option for those not candidates for hair transplant surgery or looking for a less invasive alternative. The treatment is also much more affordable than hair transplant surgery.
Since the 2% formula launch in 1986, minoxidil, the main active ingredient in Rogaine, has been available on the market to treat hair loss. Minoxidil dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow to the scalp. More nutrients are delivered to the hair follicles, promoting hair regrowth.
The FDA has approved this popular treatment for treating male and female pattern baldness, and it can be purchased over the counter as minoxidil foam or liquid.
Use of Rogaine is an effective hair growth treatment for men who suffer from male pattern baldness. In an older 2002 study, participants who used minoxidil at 5% experienced quicker results and 45% more hair growth than those using minoxidil at 2%.
5% solution is more effective, but it can also cause more side effects, such as:
- Scalp irritation
- Hair growth on your forehead
- Changes to your hair texture or color
It is important to note that Rogaine only works for as long as you use it. Once you stop using it, hair loss will resume. When applied daily to the scalp, Rogaine prolongs the hair growth cycle.
Propecia, or finasteride, is a prescription medication for men. It is taken in pill form and works by inhibiting the production of DHT, the hormone that shrinks hair follicles and leads to hair loss.
This is another FDA-approved medication for treating male pattern baldness, and it is effective in treating both the crown and vertex (middle) areas of the scalp.
According to a study, 83% of men with male pattern baldness had no change in their hair count two years after using finasteride for the treatment of male pattern baldness.
Comparatively, only 28% of men who took a placebo saw no change in hair count. By suppressing dihydrotestosterone (DHT), finasteride stops men's hair loss from worsening.
Finasteride takes many months and up to a year to work.
Propecia and finasteride can have serious side effects, so discussing the risks and benefits with your doctor before starting this medication is essential.
These side effects include:
- Decreased sexual drive
- Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
- Disorders of ejaculation
- Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts)
The fatty acids in coconut oil, called lauric acid, penetrate the hair shaft and reduce protein loss. You can do a leave-in treatment overnight or for a few hours before washing your hair with coconut oil, depending on your hair type.
You can also use coconut oil as a leave-in treatment if your hair is dry. Massage coconut oil into your scalp and throughout your hair. Researchers found that coconut oil to the scalp boosts the scalp's microbiome and strengthens hair follicles.
However, it's important to note that coconut oil is slow and won't always guarantee results.
Aloe vera is an ancient herbal remedy. It's used to treat many things from skin ailments to dental health.
Research and anecdotal evidence have shown that aloe vera can be an effective natural remedy to hair loss, making it a viable natural alternative to hair transplants.
However, more research is necessary to confirm the efficacy of aloe vera.
Onion juice may be worth it if you can handle the smell. In studies, onion juice has been shown to promote hair growth and soothe patchy alopecia areata - an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss throughout the body.
Researchers have also found that onion juice improves circulation and keratinocyte growth factor, an important mediator of hair follicle development.
Iron plays an important role in hair growth, as it helps to transport oxygen to the hair follicles. A lack of iron can lead to anaemia, which can cause hair loss.
Good sources of iron include red meat, poultry, tofu, and green leafy vegetables.
You can also take an iron supplement if you are not getting enough from your diet. However, you should talk to your doctor before taking iron pills.
Too much iron can cause vomiting and constipation, and high doses can even be fatal. Iron is also slow and unguaranteed when it comes to permanently reducing hair loss.
Read more: Top 7 Foods For Vegetarian Hair Growth According To Doctors
In people without any nutrient deficiency, biotin is not strongly supported in promoting hair growth or preventing hair loss.
Correcting a biotin deficiency with supplement can help some people regain hair growth because a diet poor in biotin can sometimes cause hair thinning and poor hair growth. Likewise, a biotin shampoo might help against hair thinning.
Some doctors prescribe the safe supplement biotin for hair loss, but you can get more by eating foods that are rich in it, such as eggs, wheat germ, and mushrooms.
Zinc plays a role in nearly every process in your body that keeps you alive, so it is no surprise that it also helps strengthen the follicles that nourish the hair under your scalp. Some popular natural sources of zinc include:
- Breakfast cereals
- Wheat flour
However, while zinc is an important mineral, it cannot be stored in your body permanently, so you have to consume it daily. One research suggests that taking zinc orally could help with hair loss if your zinc levels are low.
However, more research is needed to confirm if zinc really does solve hair loss.
Like coconut oil and other natural-based alternatives, it's important to know that zinc supplements won't always guarantee a permanent solution to a receding hairline.
Read more: How to Manage a Receding Hairline According to an Expert
What is a hair transplant?
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure that involves taking hair from one part of the scalp and transplanting it to another area where there is thinning or balding hair.
The transplanted hair will usually come from the sides or back of the head, as these areas are not affected by male pattern baldness.
Once the donor hair has been harvested, the surgeon will make tiny incisions in the balding area of the scalp and implant the follicles. The surgery typically takes 4 to 8 hours, depending on the transplant size.
After the procedure can take 3-6 months for new hair growth to show, like these hair transplant before and after. While a hair transplant can be an effective way to restore hair loss, it is also very expensive.
Statistics show that the cost can range from $3,000 to $15,000, depending on the extent of the surgery.
Is it possible to regrow hair without hair transplant?
A few methods can help you regrow hair without a hair transplant. Some popular treatments for pattern baldness are to use finasteride and minoxidil (propecia and rogaine), a topical medication that helps stimulate hair growth.
Another popular method is laser therapy, which uses low-level lasers to promote hair regrowth.
Finally, some natural methods can help promote hair growth, such as taking collagen supplements, using pumpkin seed oil or using stinging nettle for hair loss.
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