Minoxidil is a vasodilator that has been clinically proven to stop hair loss as well as slow down the progress of androgenetic alopecia (male/female pattern baldness). It has also been shown to help stimulate the regrowth of hair, and it is currently available over-the-counter as a antihypertensive vasodilator treatment for hair loss. Minoxidil works by opening up potassium channels in the body, facilitating cell membrane hyperpolarization. By opening up potassium channels and expanding blood vessels, more nutrients, blood, and oxygen are able to reach hair follicles in the scalp. As a result, hair follicles that were part of the telogen (resting) phase shed and are replaced by thicker hairs during the newfound anagen (active growth) cycle.
There have been studies conducted on the effectiveness of minoxidil on patients suffering from androgenetic alopecia. For instance, a study published in 2014 in the Dermatological Therapy Journal found that 40% of subjects were able to regrow hair, with results being noticeable between 3 and 6 months.
Some surgeons also recommend the use of minoxidil after a hair transplant procedure because it can help reduce the likelihood of hair loss in hairs that were not transplanted, as well as accelerate the growth of transplanted hairs by approximately a month.
In fact, a study conducted by Dr. Kassimir in 1987-that was published in the American Academy of Dermatology Journal- found that 2 out of the 12 post-op patients in the study didn’t lose any of their transplanted hairs after having used minoxidil. It is interesting to note that the post-op hair loss of transplanted hairs typically occurs at the 3 week period, post-op. What’s more, the study found that 2 out of the 12 subjects also developed hair growth at the 4 week mark, which is a marked improvement over the usual 3 month period that it takes for hair to grow after a hair transplantation procedure.
Deciding on whether or not to use minoxidil after a hair transplant procedure is something that should be discussed on an individual basis with one’s health care provider. While some patients undergo a hair transplant in order to avoid long term hair growth medication, such as minoxidil, others feel that the combination of minoxidil with a hair transplant can yield optimal results in the long term.
For instance, Dr. Jeff Donovan, a U.S. certified dermatologist who specializes in hair transplantation procedures, recommends using minoxidil 5 to 7 days after a hair transplant is preformed. Long term use is recommended in order to prevent the loss of existing hair, while using minoxidil for 5 to 7 months is recommend for people who are primarily interested in boosting the growth of transplanted hair.
It is important to note that, unlike certain other hair growth treatments, minoxidil does not reduce the production of DHT in men. DHT is an androgen that has been linked to male pattern baldness, and minoxidil also does not block 5-alpha reductase-the enzyme responsible for the follicular accumulation of DHT. As a result, follicular shrinkage and eventual destruction resume when the minoxidil treatment is stopped.
Minoxidil is marketed under a myriad of different trade names; including, but not limited to, Rogaine, Avogain, Lipogaine, Regenepure Minoxidil Precision Spray, Obabo, Turgain, Regaine, Loniten, and Vanarex. Minoxidil is also generally well tolerated, with the most common side effects being reported being eye itchiness, irritation and/or redness. Less common side effects include shortness of breath, dizziness, swelling of the face, irregular heartbeats, hives, and sudden weight gain. Minoxidil is typically applied topically to the scalp, twice a day, with optimal effectiveness being promoted by allowing the solution to rest on the scalp for at least 4 hours before wetting the region.