Finasteride (Propecia ™) is a prescription medication approved by the FDA to treat male pattern baldness in men. It works by blocking DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is a naturally-produced hormone derived from testosterone. Clinical studies on men experiencing hair loss have shown that a high percentage of these men have high levels of DHT.
Things You Should Know about DHT
Though DHT can certainly have adverse effects in grown men, the compound is necessary during puberty. In fact, it is largely responsible for the development of male characteristics such as body hair, a deep voice, and penile growth. As men age, however, DHT begins to have other effects on their bodies. Even as it causes men susceptible to male pattern baldness to lose their hair, it can cause excessive hair growth on other parts of their bodies. As such, by blocking DHT, men can slow the progression of hair loss and prevent excessive hair elsewhere.
The Hair Growth Cycle
To understand how DHT impacts hair growth – and how finasteride can slow hair loss – it is important to understand the hair growth cycle. There are three phases of hair growth:
- Anagen (Active) Phase – Your hair grows longer and longer from the follicle while it pushes old hair out of the way. The longer the anagen phase, the longer your hair will grow. The anagen phase is much longer for the hair on your head and much shorter for the hair on other parts of your body.
- Catagen (Atrophy) Phase – During this phase, which occurs immediately after the anagen phase, old hairs that were pushed out of the way by new growth will begin to detach from the follicle shaft and fall out.
- Telogen (Resting) Phase – Finally, during the telogen phase, your follicles will rest. There is no new growth occurring during this phase, and there is no further atrophy. Your body prepares for its next anagen phase while it is resting.
Scientific studies have proven that DHT shortens the anagen (growth) phase and extends the length of both the catagen and telogen phases, which results in hair falling out without any regrowth. By effectively blocking DHT, it is possible to enhance the anagen phase while keeping both the catagen and telogen phases in check.
Finasteride’s DHT-Blocking Potential
DHT is not directly produced in the human body. Rather, an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase binds to the free testosterone in your body, ultimately creating the DHT. Finasteride works by attracting and binding to 5-alpha reductase in your body before it has the opportunity to interact with free testosterone, thus vastly reducing the amount of DHT in your bloodstream.
Finasteride treatments do not work to the same degree for everyone. For some men, finasteride will slow hair loss somewhat but cannot prevent it altogether. For others, finasteride may completely stop hair loss and even stimulate the growth of new hair. If you are concerned about hair loss, Mardirossian Facial Aesthetics can help. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about the options we offer, including other prescription treatments, low-level laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma treatment, and surgical hair restoration.
Side effects of Finasteride include sperm count decrease and possible decrease in libido, that in select cases has persisted even after interruption of the medication. For more information please contact our office at 561-624-0900.