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Propecia (finasteride)

Propecia is the brand name for finasteride 1 mg tablets.  Finasteride tablets have been around for a long time for the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) in men in the 5 mg dosage.  During BPH treatment some men started to notice that they were growing hair on their scalp or that their thinning hair appeared thicker.  Subsequently, research went into finasteride as a possible treatment for male pattern hair loss.  During the testing phase of finasteride it was determined that 1 mg was sufficient to help halt hair loss and promote hair growth.

Propecia 1 mg tablets are taken daily and it will take a minimum of 6 to 12 months to determine its efficacy.  I tell my hair loss patients that the primary goal of finasteride is to halt or slow the hair loss progression.  If we can reverse some of the hair loss that is even better.

Patients often ask me if Propecia is the only thing they need to do for their hair loss.  Unfortunately, hair loss is best treated by multiple modalities.  Typically, I will combine multiple therapies to get the best results.

Women can also take finasteride for female pattern hair loss, typically at 5 mg daily, but must be post-menopausal or cannot have children due to the teratogenicity of the medication.  Alternatively, a medication such as spironolactone may be prescribed alongside a birth control pill to those patients that are premenopausal.  As is for men, it will take 6 to 12 months to determine its efficacy.

With Propecia or finasteride treatment the results only last as long as the medication is taken.  Pattern hair loss will begin to take over again in about 6 months after stopping treatment.

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