How Can I Slow Down the Balding Process?

My son's head hair is thinning at an alarming rate, he is 20 years old, there is no history of baldness on either side of the familly other than an uncle on his mother's side. Any ides of how to stop this or what he can do?

Doctor Answers 9

Hair Loss Solutions

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The solution depends on the cause of hair loss. Slowing down the balding process for your son may not be possible if the cause is male pattern baldness--which is the leading cause of hair loss among men. Though there is not a strong presence of pattern baldness in your ancestry, the possibility for it be be passed down is not completely negated. Genetics are complicated, complex, and often unpredictable. It is not uncommon for sufferers of MPB to begin seeing hair thinning as early as their late teen years. Unfortunately, hair transplant (the only permanent solution) will not be an option for a few years, as most clinics will not perform hair transplant on prospective patients under the age of 24 (since MPB is progressive). Some things you can try in the meantime:

  • Consult your son's primary care physician, who may very well send him on to a dermatologist
  • Rogaine (Brand name for minoxidil; an over-the counter, FDA-approved treatment applied topically to stop hair loss)
  • Toppik (a keratin-based powder cosmetic "sprinkled" onto the hair to conceal hair loss temporarily)

Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

If you are losing hair and want treatment options you need to see a doctor and establish a diagnosis.

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If you are losing hair and want treatment options you need to see a doctor and establish a diagnosis.  You cannot treat something without knowing what you have.

Jae Pak, MD
Los Angeles Hair Restoration Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 106 reviews

Slowing down the balding process

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Baldness in an uncle on the mother's side qualifies as a positive family history. Hair loss comes from both mom's side and dad's side. One needs to look beyond the mother and father and into the extended family to understand the complexities of how male pattern balding is inherited. It's well appreciated now that male pattern hair loss can even skip generations.

The most important step is to get the right diagnosis. Be sure to see a dermatologist or physician who specializes in hair loss for an accurate diagnosis. 

If it is male pattern balding, you can discuss options for minoxidil, finasteride pills, low level laser therapy and platelet rich plasma.

Jeff Donovan, MD, PhD
Vancouver Dermatologist

See Someone Who Specializes In Hair Restoration

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There are so many options available these days for those experiencing hair loss, so it is really important to consult a physician who specializes in Hair Restoration.  Hair transplant, laser hair restoration, Propecia and Rogaine, and even some nutrient supplementation can all be beneficial options for those experiencing hair loss.  If you speak to a specialist, he or she can help you determine the best options for your son, based on his specific situation.  Since the cause could be related to a number of factors, an evaluation is essential. 

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

See a hair restoration specialist

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I would recommend your son see a dermatologist who specializes in hair restoration. The cause of his hair loss could be genetic, though the thinning could also be caused by other factors like medications, alopecia areata, etc. Once the cause of your son’s hair loss has been diagnosed, a dermatologist can work to find the best solution to stop and even reverse the thinning in some cases. Treatments range from topical and oral medications (i.e., Rogaine and Propecia) to hair restoration surgery.

Stop Hair Loss

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You should see a dermatologist and determine what the cause of your hair loss is. If the answer is androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness), then the two best options available are Rogaine and Propecia. Don't let anybody talk you into having a hair transplant now. Why? Because you are a very young man and the extent of your ultimate hair loss is completely unknown at this point. If it is male pattern baldness, better to focus on the two FDA-approved medications for MPB, Rogaine and Propecia. Most men will grow hair with one or both of these products and they will also slow down the progression of hair loss.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Seek consultation with a hair loss expert

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A young man of 20 with obvious thinng hair should have a consultation with a hair expert. Call your local dermatologist and check to see who is considered the " Hair Loss Expert" for medical treatment.

In general, be cautious and probably avoid "Hair Transplant Clinics," as they are there to aggressively sell you on micrograft hair translants. Most 20 year old guys losing hair need to first figure out what to do to slow down the accelerated hair loss they are already experiencing. There is a variety of good medical treatments out there that are FDA approved for male pattern hair loss.

After maximal medical control of advancing hair loss is obtained, then the patient in his 20's, or whatever age, can seek information on the pros and cons of surgical hair restortation, possibly from the physcian they are already seeing for medical hair loss treatment.

Peter Goldman, MD (retired)
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon

Slowing down the balding process

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My answer to this question will be the same as the last. 

If we can catch it early enough, there are several modalities than can slow down the balding process.

Years ago, we as MD's were very frustrated when a patient came in because of hair loss. Options were limited and balding was inevitable as the patient often had to watch the hair go down the drain forever.

The GREAT news today for patients with this condition is: Hair loss is optional.

When it comes to reversing thinning/ shedding hair, we have had very good results with the infrared light therapy called Luce. Luce will not create a new hair follicle, but if caught early, can turn the weak hair that is on it's way out back to a strong growing hair.

Some other modalities that can help reduce shedding would be Rogaine and or Propecia. These also seem to boost the strength of Luce when used together.

It's important to find out why you are shedding.

There is a genetic test called Hair DX that can shed some light on whether the hair loss is genetic in nature. (male/female pattern baldness)

Jon E. Mendelsohn, MD
Cincinnati Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 128 reviews

Propecia and Rogaine are the answers, not Hair Transplant

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Yes, yes, yes. Besides ruling out other causes, he most likely should be on rogaine and propecia. Rogaine is a topical over the counter medication and propecia is a prescription by a doctor. Hhe sounds VERY UNSAFE to have a hair transplant because he is too young, too unstable, and will potentially have an unnatural result over a short time. Please do not go to an unscrupulous surgeon who will operate at a blink.

Best wishes to you and your son!

Sam Lam, MD, FACS
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.