Using Wigs or Toupees to Conceal Hair Loss
A toupee is a small piece of hair on a mesh or fabric foundation that is used to cover a bald or thinning area on the scalp. A wig covers a larger area – typically the whole scalp. Wigs and toupees may be made of human hair or synthetic fibers but both require regular cleaning and care. It is essential to have two wigs or toupees to allow time for maintaining one while the other is being worn. Some hair systems are glued into place with the process being repeated every 10 to 14 days. Other systems may be attached with snaps or clips that attach to existing hair
Fibers and Sprays to Conceal Hair Loss
For those who still have some hair, there are a number of fiber products that can improve its appearance and make it look thicker. These protein fibers come in a shaker-type bottle and cling to the base of hair follicles adding bulk and thickness. They may also be sprayed or painted on to the scalp. The fibers adhere well through static electricity and can only be removed by a thorough washing.
Scalp foundation can be used to darken the scalp to match the color of existing hair, so making hair loss less visible. The foundation can be used in conjunction with a fiber product.
Prescription Medications that Treat Hair Loss
The most widely-used medication in treating alopecia is finasteride which is commonly known as Propecia. This drug is effective in the treatment of common patterns of hair loss, especially if treatment is commenced within a couple of years of the loss. If the drug is discontinued, the hair loss pattern will generally return to its previous patterns. Propecia has not been approved for use in women.
Laser Therapy and Hair Restoration
There has been some success with low-level laser therapy but it is not a proven treatment for alopecia. Typical results are an improvement in thinning areas of hair but it does not seem to have an effect on bald areas.
Hair Transplant Surgery
Hair transplant surgery has evolved over the years and modern techniques do not give the spotty effect of earlier ones. A person needs a healthy area of donor hair and the procedure is usually performed with a local anesthetic. The surgery takes an average of four to seven hours. The hair used for grafting is removed using one of two methods: follicular unit transplantation or single strip harvesting.
Hair loss or alopecia is a common condition, especially among men as they age. For those embarrassed by hair loss, there are a number of ways to conceal, reduce or reverse hair loss. Each person needs to consider the options carefully, taking into account the cost, effectiveness and long term implications.
Reference: Hair Loss and Replacement for Dummies, William R Rassman and Robert M Bernstein, Wiley Publishing Inc, 2009