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The high cost of battling hair loss

Getting a little thin up top? The most effective way to turn that around is also the most expensive.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 9, 2013 12:22PM

This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.

MoneyTalksNews on MSN MoneyA 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? Read on for more about your options and how much they'll cost.


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.

Senior man with young bride © PNC, Brand X Pictures, Getty ImagesThe 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. Also, 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, 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, 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?

Karen Datko contributed to this report. 

More on Money Talks News:

Oct 9, 2013 2:59PM
who cares. i'm 42 and i've been married twenty years with two grown kids. I don't have to look stellar when I have a head ache,i can put icy-hot on my bald great!
Oct 9, 2013 4:20PM
If mine falls out I'll just go bald and wear a cap or hat in the sun otherwise it's not worth the worry, matter of fact.... worry does make hair fall out.
Oct 9, 2013 6:41PM
You have either got hair, or you don't. So what? Having hair doesn't make you a better person.
Oct 9, 2013 7:01PM
Started losing mine about 30.  bought some clippers for $30. 5 minutes every 3-4 days.  easy.

just go with what the good Lord gave ya.

Oct 9, 2013 5:55PM
Covering up a balding head is kind of sad.  Back in about 1985 Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley made bald cool.  When you start to lose your hair, just use some electric clippers with NO guard and cut it all off.  Be a man, be cool, stop wasting money with hair restoration procedures and embrace your baldness.  Nothing wrong with little to no hair.  I anxiously wait for the day when I get to shave off my hair.  In the meantime, I will "have to settle" for having really short (unfortunately, thick) hair.  (I usually cut it myself.  One on the sides and back, crew cut length on top).  Bald is cool   Hair restoration is pathetic.  
Oct 10, 2013 11:53AM
It is really easy to act and speak indifferently about hair and hair loss if your profession does not require you to look your absolute best (meet with clients, appear in public). The sad fact is, whether people admit it or not, looks matter. All things equal we are going to be impressed by the better looking person, which unfortunately, in our society has a full head of hair. If you do not have to deal with people for a living face to face I applaud your indifference, if you do, you are shortchanging yourself and your opportunities.
Oct 11, 2013 9:33AM
As my Grandpa used to say:  Some heads God made perfect and some He covered with hair!!
Oct 28, 2013 12:18PM

I am Leonard Stillman, Director of Professional Services at Lexington International, LLC manufacturers of the HairMax LaserComb. This posting is not for commercial purposes but to alert viewers that the HairMax LaserComb has been proven to work with no serious side effects ever reported in treating hereditary hair loss in both males and females. Below is a link to the peer reviewed article abstract with the results of a clinical trial proving the efficacy of the HairMax in males with pattern baldness as printed at

"Clin Drug Investig. 2009;29(5):283-92.
HairMax LaserComb laser phototherapy device in the treatment of male androgenetic alopecia: A randomized, double-blind, sham device-controlled, multicentre trial.

Leavitt M, Charles G, Heyman E, Michaels D.
Private Dermatology Practice, Maitland, Florida, USA.


The use of low levels of visible or near infrared light for reducing pain, inflammation and oedema, promoting healing of wounds, deeper tissue and nerves, and preventing tissue damage has been known for almost 40 years since the invention of lasers. The HairMax LaserComb is a hand-held Class 3R lower level laser therapy device that contains a single laser module that emulates 9 beams at a wavelength of 655 nm (+/-5%). The device uses a technique of parting the user's hair by combs that are attached to the device. This improves delivery of distributed laser light to the scalp. The combs are designed so that each of the teeth on the combs aligns with a laser beam. By aligning the teeth with the laser beams, the hair can be parted and the laser energy delivered to the scalp of the user without obstruction by the individual hairs on the scalp. The primary aim of the study was to assess the safety and effectiveness of the HairMax LaserComb laser phototherapy device in the promotion of hair growth and in the cessation of hair loss in males diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia (AGA).


This double-blind, sham device-controlled, multicentre, 26-week trial randomized male patients with Norwood-Hamilton classes IIa-V AGA to treatment with the HairMax LaserComb or the sham device (2 : 1). The sham device used in the study was identical to the active device except that the laser light was replaced by a non-active incandescent light source.

Of the 110 patients who completed the study, subjects in the HairMax LaserComb treatment group exhibited a significantly greater increase in mean terminal hair density than subjects in the sham device group (p < 0.0001). Consistent with this evidence for primary effectiveness, significant improvements in overall hair regrowth were demonstrated in terms of patients' subjective assessment (p < 0.015) at 26 weeks over baseline. The HairMax LaserComb was well tolerated with no serious adverse events reported and no statistical difference in adverse effects between the study groups.

The results of this study suggest that the HairMax LaserComb is an effective, well tolerated and safe laser phototherapy device for the treatment of AGA in males.

PMID: 19366270 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]"

The HairMax Laser Comb has received FDA Clearance for marketing for treating both male female pattern hair loss so that now all people have hope for an effective and safe, non-drug alternative for the treatment of hereditary hair loss.The HairMax is the only home use device of its kind to have FDA Clearance for both men and women”.

We invite readers to view the HairMax web site, for complete information and to see if the HairMax is right for them.


Oct 15, 2013 5:29AM
Nice post! However, to stop hair loss and help regrow hair, there's a whole natural treatment made only of herbs grown in the countryside. You can find out more at
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