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9 Non-Surgical Hair Restoration Treatments That Really Work
Dr. Correia (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Correia (GMC)
Updated on May 9, 2024

Many people with hair thinning search for effective non-surgical hair restoration treatments. Hair loss affects more than 85% of men and 55% of women during their lifetime [1][2], causing distress and lowering self-confidence, so finding the best solutions to your hair shedding can be very important.

When faced with the first signs of hair thinning and balding, some opt for a hair transplant. That is because it is a simple, safe and long-term solution. Unlike other treatments, a hair transplant is permanent, which means you can enjoy its results for the rest of your life. However, not everyone with excessive hair shedding needs wants or is eligible for hair restoration surgery. Fortunately, many effective, scientifically proven alternatives can help you achieve non-surgical hair restoration. 

Medications such as Minoxidil or Finasteride and therapies such as PRP hair treatments or low-level laser therapy can curb hair loss and stimulate hair growth. Cosmetic hair replacements, such as the clever use of hair systems can hide your thinning hair without ever going under the knife. This article will tell you all you need to know about:

  • What non-surgical hair restoration is and what it can entail
  • The most efficient non-surgical hair restoration treatments and therapies
  • Cosmetical options for non-surgical hair replacement
  • The relationship between surgical and non-surgical hair restoration
Table of Contents

What is non-surgical hair restoration and how does it work?

As the name reveals, non-surgical hair restoration is the type of treatment that can curb your hair loss and stimulate its growth in a non-invasive way, requiring no operation. There are multiple kinds of treatments under this umbrella term, the most common of which are:

  • Medications – chemical compounds that you ingest or apply on your scalp at regular intervals to diminish the symptoms of alopecia and promote new hair production.
  • Therapies – procedures that may require multiple sessions, where specific equipment or devices are used to stimulate your scalp, stimulating hair growth. 
  • Natural remedieshair growth oils, special diets for healthy hair or natural DHT blockers used to promote hair restoration without the use of synthetic products. 
  • Hair growth products shampoos and conditioners for hair growth, hair masks and other similar products that contain active substances which promise to increase hair density. However, these will not be covered in the present article because there is usually little scientific evidence regarding their efficacy.

Moreover, products that mask hair loss, such as non-surgical hair replacement (also known as hair systems), spray-on hair or scalp micropigmentation (SMP) are often included in this category as well. While they cannot treat, but only hide thinning hair, they are non-surgical and can provide the appearance of hair restoration. 

The best ways to achieve hair restoration non-surgically

Ranging from hair growth medication and treatments to solutions designed to replace your natural hair and mask balding spots, you can try many non-surgical options. Here are some of the most effective:

Woman applying Minoxidil to scalp

1. Minoxidil

Sold under the brand name Rogaine (Regaine in the UK), this drug is a vasodilator. That means it can widen your blood vessels, allowing more blood flow through them [3]. Since your scalp has very small capillaries, dilating them helps your hair follicles get increased amounts of oxygen and nutrients, which helps them remain in the growth phase for longer and produce thicker, denser hair.

 Topical Minoxidil is used most commonly, as it produces very good results without the potential systemic side effects of oral Minoxidil. This medication is quite versatile, and it can help stimulate your follicles for hair growth in conditions such as:

A bottle of Finasteride

2. Finasteride

Commonly known by its brand names, Propecia or Proscar, Finasteride can be very effective in reducing androgenetic alopecia. This type of alopecia occurs when an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase converts too much of your testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

DHT is a different male hormone that binds to androgen receptors in your hair follicles, making them smaller and producing shorter, finer (vellus) hair or blocking strand production entirely. Finasteride works by inhibiting the activity of 5-alpha reductase, which, in turn, lowers the DHT levels in your blood [10], effectively curbing both male [11] and female pattern baldness [12]. 

However, it is not recommended that premenopausal women use Finasteride. That is because it can cause fetal malformations and cause hormonal imbalances. It is, however, sometimes prescribed off-label to women who are no longer of reproductive age. 

Dutasteride pills

3. Dutasteride

Dutasteride works through the same DHT-reducing principle as Finasteride. It decreases the activity of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which is responsible for converting testosterone into DHT. However, research shows Dutasteride is more effective than Finasteride [13].

That is because while the latter can only inhibit 2 out of 3 existing types of 5-alpha reductase, the former can lower the activity levels of all 3. To compare the two medications, Finasteride 1mg is known to lower blood DHT by about 70%. In contrast, Dutasteride 0.5 mg can reduce it all the way to over 98%, significantly increasing hair count and thickness [14]. 

However, this drug has not yet received FDA approval for treating hair loss, which means it can only be prescribed off-label. And, for the same reasons as Finasteride, it is not advisable that premenopausal women take Dutasteride

Doctor holding corticosteroid cream

4. Corticosteroids 

Steroid creams are frequently used topically to reduce inflammation produced by autoimmune disorders which cause hair loss, such as alopecia areata, lichen planopilaris or even more common scalp problems like scalp psoriasis or eczema.

When the condition is too advanced for topical treatment, intra-lesional steroid injections can provide very good results. Research shows they can help reduce hair loss in 60-70% of alopecia areata cases [15][16]. Moreover, 83% of people with lichen planopilaris who use this treatment can experience full remission [17].  

Woman getting PRP hair treatment

5. PRP hair treatment

PRP has a high success rate in treating androgenetic alopecia in both genders [17][18], but it can also help reduce the symptoms of alopecia areata [19]. Moreover, using PRP after a hair transplant has been found to improve graft survival chances and to make your newly implanted hair grow faster, longer and thicker [20].  

This therapy works by drawing some of your blood and mechanically isolating its platelet-rich fraction. Then, after extracting this blood component teeming with growth factors, it is injected into the balding areas of your scalp. It helps stimulate your hair follicles for growth and, at the same time, construct or repair the small blood vessels needed to nourish them.

Woman getting low-level laser therapy for hair growth

6. Low-level laser therapy for hair growth

This treatment is also known as red light therapy for hair growth, because it uses red or near-infrared light to stimulate your follicles. While it can take several months of daily use to see its effects, it can provide very good results in androgenetic alopecia (up to 51% hair density increase in women [21] and 35% in men [22]). Moreover, it may also help restore hair in alopecia areata or telogen effluvium. And you can conveniently get this treatment at home by purchasing a laser hair growth cap

Red light therapy works by dilating blood vessels to nourish scalp follicles better and by giving them access to more energy. This is achieved when the focused light beams are absorbed by the enzyme cytochrome C oxidase, activating it. Its activation leads to an improvement in mitochondrial activity and overall cell functioning [23]. 

Man using derma roller on scalp

7. Derma rolling (microneedling)

This therapy may seem scary at first, but derma rolling for hair growth is painless and its effects are comparable to those of Minoxidil. It involves rolling a small tool covered in fine needles across your scalp, which is why it is also known as microneedling. This causes very small punctures on the surface of your scalp, prompting your body to send growth and healing factors to the area around your hair follicles [24]. Over time, this stimulates improved hair growth.

You can easily use a derma roller for hair growth at home, and you can combine it with other treatments for optimum results. For example, research shows that using Minoxidil with a derma roller can increase your hair count significantly more than either of them alone [25]. That is because the micro punctures in your scalp help improve topical treatment penetration.

Man getting scalp micropigmentation

8. Scalp micropigmentation 

Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) can be worth it for women and men alike if they want to mask hair thinning. This is especially the case if you are experiencing hair loss that is resistant to treatment, such as certain forms of scarring alopecia or if you want to mask accident or hair transplant scars.

It basically involves a hair tattoo, where microdots are made in your bald spots with ink that matches your hair colour [26]. They are positioned to match your natural hair pattern and reduce the contrast between your skin and hair. This makes thinning areas less conspicuous. 

However, SMP is mostly effective on small areas of your scalp or if you enjoy wearing very short hairstyles (e.g. stubble). If your baldness is advanced and you prefer to grow your hair out, it can look very conspicuous, leading to scalp micropigmentation regrets.    

Man adjusting his hair replacement system

9. Cosmetical hair replacement products

While hair replacement systems and products may not restore your hair, they can replace it with natural or synthetic alternatives, effectively masking your thinning. The best-known such products are:

  • Hair systems – semi-permanent wigs which are securely attached to your scalp and can be worn continuously for up to 6 months before requiring replacement. 
  • Toupees and hair extensions – different forms of hair pieces that can be glued or taped on your scalp or clipped to your natural strands to cover bald spots or make your hair look fuller. Unlike hair systems, they are generally worn for shorter durations (as they are not that securely attached) and may look more conspicuous depending on their quality and materials.
  • Spray-on hair – this product has several varieties. It can either simply contain pigment close to your hair shade or it can be a hair thickening spray. The former works in a similar way to SMP, reducing contrast between your bald spots and better-covered areas. However, the latter contains small filaments made from microfibers that cling to your strands with static electricity, making it seem like your hair is naturally thicker and denser. 
Man preparing for hair transplant surgery

Is it possible to get a hair transplant without surgery?

Sometimes people colloquially refer to cosmetic procedures such as SMP as a type of hair transplant. While the confusion is understandable, these terms can be misleading regarding the nature of hair restoration surgery. 

Regardless of whether it uses a FUT or FUE technique, a hair transplant is inherently a surgical procedure. It is performed by harvesting healthy follicles from a part of your scalp where there are many left (e.g. the back or sides of the head) and reimplanting them in special slits made in your balding areas. This process cannot be completed without cutting your skin, even if only small slits and punctures are involved.   

So while it is possible to use non-surgical treatment to curb hair loss and regrow strands, this will not be a hair transplant but a hair restoration.  

How long does a non-surgical hair restoration treatment last?

Some medications with a longer half-life can remain in your system and produce some (albeit increasingly reduced) effects for a few days or even weeks after treatment cessation. Moreover, specific therapies such as PRP can also produce effects for approximately 6 months before requiring another treatment course. 

However, as a general rule, most non-surgical hair loss treatments are only effective as long as you actively use them. Even hair systems typically need to be replaced every 3-6 months. This is one of the greatest disadvantages of non-surgical treatments compared to a hair restoration surgery, since you can still enjoy your hair transplant after 10 years or more. 

Can I get non-surgical hair replacement in the UK?

Yes, there are several UK providers who can assist you with hair replacement systems. While the offer is rather varied, depending on the type of system you have in mind (material, hair type, customisation, etc.), you may find it easier or more challenging to find what you need.

Higher-quality products look more natural and can pass for your actual hair, while lower-quality ones can look a bit conspicuous and require extra styling to disguise. On average, a decent hair system costs around £500 for the first installation, with additional maintenance and replacement fees.

Does non-surgical hair restoration work?

All of the non-surgical hair restoration treatments and therapies mentioned above have scientifically proven effectiveness. This means they are likely to work correctly and for the right hair loss condition. However, it is difficult to say how well either would work for you. 

That is because each is designed to treat certain types of alopecia. For example, Finasteride and Dutasteride are only effective in treating androgenetic alopecia, while Minoxidil is more versatile and can also help other conditions, as previously mentioned (alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, etc). So, the first thing you need to do is see a trichologist and get your hair loss diagnosed.  

Moreover, even if you are getting the right treatment for your condition, not everyone responds the same. Individual factors such as genetics, hormones, your overall state of health, your lifestyle and hair styling practices can all influence therapeutic outcomes. So, a personalised treatment plan designed by a hair specialist for your specific needs has the best chance of success. 

Woman getting hair restoration help from trichologist

Do you need help choosing non-surgical hair restoration?

The UK is home to some of the best hair clinics in the world, so it is a perfect place to get both natural-looking hair transplants and top-tier non-surgical hair restoration. If you are concerned about hair loss, book a consultation with one of our experienced hair specialists.

They will provide a thorough examination of your scalp and hair and ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. Then, they will perform all necessary trichology tests (e.g. a dermoscopy, a hair pull test or a blood test for hair loss) to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Once they have learned the reason your hair is falling out, they will propose the most effective treatment specifically tailored to your hair type and condition.

They will also monitor your progress closely and make all the necessary adjustments so you can fully benefit from your non-surgical hair restoration.

9 Non-Surgical Hair Restoration Treatments That Really Work, Wimpole Clinic

  1. Female pattern hair loss: Current treatment concepts
  2. Men’s Hair Loss 
  3. Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review
  4. Comparison of low-level light therapy and combination therapy of 5% minoxidil in the treatment of female pattern hair loss
  5. A randomized clinical trial of 5% topical minoxidil versus 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men
  6. Comparison of Efficacy of Various Topical Treatment Modalities in Alopecia Areata
  7. Treatment of chronic telogen effluvium with oral minoxidil: A retrospective study
  8. Treatment of traction alopecia with oral minoxidil
  9. Prevention and Treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia
  10. Finasteride for hair loss: a review
  11. Finasteride in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia
  12. Efficacy of Topical Finasteride 0.5% vs 17α-Estradiol 0.05% in the Treatment of Postmenopausal Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Retrospective, Single-Blind Study of 119 Patients
  13. 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
  14. A randomized, active- and placebo-controlled study of the efficacy and safety of different doses of dutasteride versus placebo and finasteride in the treatment of male subjects with androgenetic alopecia
  15. Intralesional Steroids for Alopecia Areata
  16. Alopecia areata
  17. Patient Satisfaction and Clinical Effects of Platelet-Rich Plasma on Pattern Hair Loss in Male and Female Patients
  18. Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia Using PRP to Target Dysregulated Mechanisms and Pathways
  19. Platelet-Rich Plasma in Alopecia Areata—A Steroid-Free Treatment Modality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials
  20. Outcome of Intra-operative Injected Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy During Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant: A Prospective Randomised Study in Forty Patients
  21. Novel Approach to Treating Androgenetic Alopecia in Females With Photobiomodulation (Low-Level Laser Therapy)
  22. The growth of human scalp hair mediated by visible red light laser and LED sources in males
  23. Low level laser therapy and hair regrowth: an evidence-based review
  24. Microneedling and Its Use in Hair Loss Disorders: A Systematic Review
  25. Microneedling for hair loss
  26. Scalp Micropigmentation Procedure: A Useful Procedure for Hair Restoration
Dr. Correia (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Correia (GMC)Updated on May 9, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

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