Hair transplants are a great solution to male pattern baldness. They offer a permanent solution to hair loss, but hair transplants can be expensive or invasive for many men. The average cost of a hair transplant in the UK is £4,850 . And though the industry is booming, there’s a growing number of people seeking out alternatives to a hair transplant.
Alternatives to Hair Transplants
If you’re suffering from male hair loss, otherwise known as androgenetic alopecia, Minoxidil can be an excellent alternative to a hair transplant. Minoxidil is commonly known as Rogaine®. It’s a topical treatment which you apply directly to your scalp, twice a day.
Minoxidil works as an alternative treatment as it belongs to a group of medications called vasodilators. Vasodilators cause blood vessels to widen. Minoxidil can increase blood flow to the scalp, and encourage more nutrients to reach hair follicles. The increased nutrients encourage hair follicles to enter the growth phase of their cycle.
Minoxidil was actually introduced as a medication for high blood pressure (known as hypertension). After doctors discovered it was the side effect of hair regrowth in balding patients, it became used as an alternative to hair transplants.
Clinical trials have shown an increase in hair growth and decrease in hair loss from using Minoxidil at a 5% formulation. (2) It’s always best to apply the product as recommended, as using Minoxidil 3 times a week instead of twice a day may not have the desired effect.
It’s also a great alternative to a hair transplant for women suffering from female pattern baldness, as Minoxidil doesn’t alter hormones. Off-brand versions that aren’t branded as Rogaine® tend to be cheaper, so it’s worth seeking them out if you can.
See photos showing the results of Minoxidil before and after treatment.
Dutasteride is a medication in tablet form, to be taken orally. It can blocks the enzyme in your body which converts testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
DHT is a male sex hormone that contributes to hair loss. If you’re genetically predisposed to baldness, DHT may stop your hair follicles producing new hairs. DHT blockers are an effective alternative to a hair transplant for thinning hair, but as they affect hormones, they’re usually only suitable for male patients.
Dutasteride can take up to 3 months to see results, but in studies it’s been proven to be a better treatment than Finasteride for androgenetic alopecia. (3) In our comparison of Dutasteride versus Finasteride, Dutasteride outperforms Finasteride for hair growth, density and thickness.
This study saw a higher hair count per centimetre in men taking Dutasteride as compared to Finasteride (4). However, Dutasteride has been linked with side effects such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation disorders (5). These side effects are rare, but it’s always worth consulting your doctor if you start experiencing any unexplained symptoms.
Like Dutasteride, Finasteride treats hair loss by decreasing the amount of DHT in your body. Finasteride isn’t recommended for use by women, as it can cause complications with birth control and pregnancy.
The suggested daily dosage for Finasteride is 1mg per day – you shouldn’t take Finasteride 3 times a week as this will disrupt the effectiveness. It’s recommended as an alternative to a hair transplant as studies have found it to be successful in treating hair loss.
In one long-term study, two groups of men took either Propecia or a placebo pill. The men who took Finasteride over the 5 year study period experienced better hair growth, increased hair density, and reduced hair loss. The placebo group actually experienced hair loss. (6)
Finasteride hair shedding can occur, usually 2-3 months after beginning treatment. This isn’t usually something to worry about. Hair shedding from finasteride is usually caused by your hair follicles going from the resting or telogen phase to the growth phase. The shedding then makes way for healthy new hair to grow.
Low level laser therapy (LLLT)
LLLT is a painless, non-surgical alternative to a hair transplant. Low level light lasers are applied directly to the affected scalp, increasing activity in the cells. This increases blood flow to the hair follicles. It takes just 25 minutes per session, and as it doesn’t involve any hormones, it’s an ideal alternative to a hair transplant for women suffering from hair loss (measured using the Ludwig Scale).
In this comprehensive review of clinical studies assessing the effectiveness of LLLT, researchers found that all of the trials reported significant increases in hair count, hair growth, and hair coverage. (7)
Vitamin infusion therapy
Vitamin infusion therapy is when vitamins and minerals are administered directly into the bloodstream through an intravenous drip. Unlike vitamin supplements for hair growth, in which just 10% of the nutrients are absorbed, vitamin infusion therapy has a 100% absorption rate.
Vitamin deficiencies can cause hair loss and balding. Vitamin infusion therapy is a good alternative to a hair transplant for patients who eat a restricted diet, have undergone bowel or stomach surgery, or those who have hair loss caused by anorexia nervosa. (8)
Platelet-rich plasma therapy
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a three-step process to treat hair loss. Blood is drawn from your arm and put into a centrifuge, which separates fluids of different densities. Then your blood will separate into three layers: platelet-poor plasma, platelet-rich plasma, and red blood cells.
The platelet rich plasma is put into a syringe and injected into your scalp on the areas which require hair regrowth. There isn’t a huge amount of scientific literature supporting its efficacy as an alternative to a hair transplant, but existing studies are promising.
One small study found a significant reduction in hair loss in patients suffering with androgenetic alopecia. (9) A larger study of 23 patients found an increase in hair density and hair count after 3 months of use. (10)
Similar to microblading (which is commonly used to create the effect of thick, full eyebrows), scalp micropigmentation (SMP) uses an electric tattoo device to create the look of a shadow on your scalp.
While hair transplants are rarely suitable for alopecia areata patients, SMP can be a good option for those suffering from this condition. Alopecia areata is autoimmune disease that causes hair loss and affects 1 in 170 people in the UK. Because alopecia areata causes patchy, non-scarring hair loss, scalp micropigmentation could help disguise the patches of thinning hair.
SMP is also popular with hair transplant patients, as it can give you the appearance of a full buzzcut while your new hair grows in.
Natural alternatives to a hair transplant
Caffeine can help stimulate hair growth, but topical application is the most effective way to use it. Some research has shown caffeine can counteract the negative effects of testosterone in causing androgenetic alopecia. (11)
If you have a sensitive or itchy scalp, caffeine can exacerbate the problem, so it’s best to be careful when trying new alternatives to a hair transplant.
There’s a wealth of anecdotal evidence that rosemary oil helps with hair growth. Rosemary oil is unlikely to work if your hair loss has reached the stage that you’re considering a hair transplant. But if your hair is thinning or just won’t grow it can be a good alternative. One study compared rosemary oil with 2% minoxidil. Both groups experienced increased hair density after 6 months of use. (12)
Lifestyle changes won’t necessarily restore your hairline in the same way as a hair transplant. But they can slow hair loss if you take the right approach.
Eating a diet for healthy hair can help counteract early hair loss and make your hair healthier. Tight hairstyles like ponytails can also lead to hair loss, so avoiding these should prevent you from developing traction alopecia. If you’re a woman suffering from hair loss, it’s also worth reassessing any styling treatments that damage hair. Learn more about heat and hair loss.
Which alternative to a hair transplant is right for you?
Unsure about which treatment to take? Contact us on 0207 935 1861 or book a free consultation to speak to one of our hair loss specialists, who can advise you with the best alternative treatments to a hair transplant.
- ISHRS Practice Census 2022
- Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review
- The efficacy and safety of dutasteride compared with finasteride in treating men with androgenetic alopecia: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Superiority of dutasteride over finasteride in hair regrowth and reversal of miniaturization in men with androgenetic alopecia. A randomized controlled open-label, evaluator-blinded study
- Dutasteride: A Review of Current Data on a Novel Dual Inhibitor of 5α Reductase
- Long-term (5-year) multinational experience with finasteride 1 mg in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia
- Examining the Safety & Efficacy of Low-Level Laser Therapy for Male & Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Review of the Literature
- Guidelines for the nutritional management of anorexia nervosa
- Platelet-Rich Plasma in Androgenic Alopecia: Myth or an Effective Tool
- The Effect of Platelet-Rich Plasma in Hair Regrowth: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial
- Role of Caffeine in the Management of Androgenetic Alopecia
- Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial
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