The High Cost of Battling Hair Loss

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A lot comes with age: experience, wisdom, better jobs, a bigger savings account (hopefully) and, for some people, unwanted changes to their hair. Whether it’s thinning, receding or just plain falling out, you might seek a cure when you notice more hair in the sink or on the brush.

But is there one?

In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson asks an expert, who responds, “Of course.” Check it out, then read on for more about your options and how much they’ll cost.

Surgery

Hair transplant surgery involves removing a strip of scalp from the back of the head where hair growth is still thick. WebMD explains:

Next, the surgeon divides the strip of removed scalp into approximately 500 to 2,000 tiny grafts containing an individual hair or just a few hairs each. The number and type of graft used depends on the hair type, quality, and color as well as the size of the area where it will be transplanted.

The transplanted hair eventually falls out but is replaced as the follicles grow new hair. Hair transplant surgery is considered the most effective way to permanently restore hair.

The cost ranges from $4,000 to $15,000, says WedMD. A robot is available to do the procedure at a cost of $8,000, with less scarring where the strip of scalp is removed.

These surgeries are usually considered cosmetic and are generally not covered by health insurance.

Oral medications

Men in the early stages of male pattern baldness have benefited from prescription drug finasteride, sold as Propecia and in generic forms. “Many men taking finasteride experience a slowing of hair loss, and some may show some new hair growth,” Mayo Clinic says. The drug must be taken daily to attain and keep results.

Consumer Reports says some women with hair loss apparently have benefited from the drug too, although CR advises that you see a specialist and try to pinpoint the cause of hair loss. Studies of its effectiveness for women have produced mixed results. CR says:

Because finasteride has been effective in controlling male pattern hair loss, it has been used to treat female pattern hair loss, although it has not gained FDA approval for that purpose. Medication prescribed to treat a condition that does not have FDA approval for that use is known as “off-label.” Doctors can legally prescribe any medication they deem appropriate for treatment.

Of course, we’ve all heard the warning about Propecia on TV. The Propecia website says:

Women who are or may be pregnant must not use Propecia and should not handle crushed or broken Propecia tablets because the active ingredient may cause abnormalities of a male baby’s sex organs. If a woman who is pregnant comes into contact with the active ingredient in Propecia, a doctor should be consulted. Propecia tablets are coated and will prevent contact with the active ingredient during normal handling provided that the tablets are not broken or crushed.

A 30-day supply at Costco costs $79.29 for Propecia and $43.75 for the generic.

Topical medications

Minoxidil, sold over the counter under the brand name Rogaine and in generic forms, is a popular topical treatment for hair loss in both men and women. “Some people experience some hair regrowth or a slower rate of hair loss or both,” Mayo Clinic says.

Rogaine is sold as both a gel and a foam. Both types must be applied twice a day, every day, and worked into the scalp. WebMD says most people need to use the medication for four months before seeing a result. However, as Stacy said in the video, oral and topical hair loss treatments are “like a diet. Stop using them and you’ll be back where you started.”

A month’s supply costs $29.99, or you can buy a four-month supply for $59.99.

Artificial hair

As an alternative to medications or surgery, you could just cover up the bald spot. Women and men have been doing it for years. Here are your options:

  • Toupee. A toupee is a small wig designed to cover part of your scalp, like a bald spot on the top of your head. You can find one that matches your hair’s color and texture, but you’ll still have to deal with taping the hair piece on and keeping it straight throughout the day. Costs vary widely. For example, at Superhairpieces.com, prices range from $60 to $279.
  • Wig. A wig covers your entire scalp and can be made from both synthetics and actual human hair. They can look very natural. At Wigs.com, men’s wigs ranged from $71.95 to $411. Women’s wigs on the site cost $28.95 to $1,972.
  • Weave. With a weave, extensions are woven into your existing hair. DailyGlow says you can save money buying the hair yourself; packages of hair cost anywhere from $18 to $70. But you’ll still have to pay a professional stylist to weave the hair for you.

Have you used one of these products or procedures? Let us know how it worked out on our Facebook page.

Karen Datko contributed to this report.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Jcatz4

    My hair is fine and thinning. I was told years ago that my hair does not have a cortex. I figure that the thinning is do to age (70 now) and probably hereditary. I’ve been saving the hair from my brush and keeping it in plastic zip bags. If my hair gets too bad, I thought I might be able to fill in some of the thinning areas with the saved hair – wash it, brush it and maybe figure a way to glue it on to a clip that I could clip into my hair.

  • Heather Holly

    My sister had female pattern
    baldness
    and it was very rough on her. She started taking keratin
    hair vitamins from a company called Nourage- it made a difference. This is
    something that really does cause so much pain for people, they are so ashamed.
    And weaves make it all worse. I am glad that people are bringing attention to
    it.