Finasteride

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Finasteride (Propecia): before and after - the results

Finasteride (Propecia): before and after - the results

Male androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness (MPB), is the most common cause of hair loss in men. It’s estimated that almost 50% of men will develop it by age 50, and 57% of men will develop it by 60. Male pattern baldness can cause your hairline to recede and thin, but it can also result in total baldness if left untreated.

Finasteride is a very effective treatment method for those affected by MPB. It’s also known by the brand name Propecia. At its best, Finasteride can increase the amount of hair on your head and make it thicker. In some cases, it’s only able to prevent further hair loss from happening. A pilot study on men affected by MPB published photos taken before and after Finasteride treatment. There was substantial progress after six months of treatment.

Daniel Atkinson
Medically reviewed by
Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical lead

Although it’s not guaranteed, most men will notice hair growth when they use Finasteride long term. A study that tested the effectiveness of Finasteride claimed that 77% of the men who were tested had experienced hair growth five years into their treatment.

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Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical lead
on August 02, 2022.
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How does Finasteride work?

Originally, Finasteride was used as an enlarged prostate treatment, but people started noticing that it was beneficial for male pattern baldness as well, as it was slowing down their hair loss (or even reversing it). So eventually it was relicensed to be used for hair loss, but at a lower dosage. The dosage of Finasteride used to treat an enlarged prostate is 5mg, while 1mg is used to treat hair loss.

Finasteride works by stopping testosterone from being converted into DHT, a hormone responsible for many of male functions. This hormone is important in your teenage years, as it helps you develop through puberty. Testosterone can be detrimental to you as an adult and cause issues like male pattern baldness. This hormone shrinks and weakens your hair follicles. By stopping testosterone from being converted into DHT, Finasteride contributes towards an overall lowering of DHT levels in the body. This will reverse or halt the development of male pattern baldness.

Does Finasteride regrow hair?

The effects of Finasteride can vary from person to person. Some will notice that their hair starts to regrow after only a few months, while some will only see this benefit after a few years. Some men won’t experience any regrowth at all, as the treatment will only stop their hair loss from worsening. The younger you are, the more likely you are to notice regrowth. Male pattern baldness is more likely to improve if treated early.

The timeline - what can I expect?

When it comes to Propecia, you have to be patient. It’s normal for people not to notice any improvements for at least a few months. Some people will only see effects after six months, and some people have to wait even longer.

It takes time for new hairs to grow long and thick enough to be noticed. Even if there’s no visual difference on your head, you might be able to feel the new hair coming through if you move your hand gently against your head.

It can take about a year or more for the full benefits of Finasteride to become apparent. The Finasteride success rate is high. Over 80% of men who use it will see results, so even if it’s taking a while for you to notice any regrowth, it is likely that it will happen if you give it time.

  • Months 1 - 3

  • Months 3 - 6

  • Months 6 - 12

  • After 12 months

Months 1-3

At this stage, Finasteride will be working hard to stop testosterone from turning into DHT. This is not an instant process and it might take a while to make any substantial difference. During the first three months you aren’t likely to notice any difference.

Some people might see results this early on, with some reports of people noticing regrowth after taking Finasteride for one month. This happens very rarely and shouldn’t be expected.

You’re more likely to notice that your hair is getting thicker and there’s a bit more of it after being on Finasteride for 3 months. So don’t give up. Stopping Finasteride at this point wouldn’t be advisable.

Months 3-6

You might start noticing some results at this stage. Maybe you’ll notice a definite increase in the amount of hair you have. It may be thicker, and your hairline may be showing signs of improvement. The biggest difference should be the rate at which you’re losing hair. At this stage your hair loss should halt or at least slow down.

Don’t be discouraged if you’ve been taking Finasteride for six months and don’t see any differences. The most noticeable Finasteride results will usually show up after six months – so hang on, the wait is worth it.

Months 6 - 12

During this period, the results of your hair loss treatment should be reaching their peak. As Finasteride should be working at its optimal level, your hair will be thicker, it won’t fall out as much as before, your hairline will improve, and there might be some noticeable regrowth too.

Finasteride results after one year will often be your ‘final results’, but from months six to twelve you should already see a noticeable difference compared to when you started from months six to 12. It’s a good idea to take some pictures of your hair before you start your treatment so you can keep track of your progress.

After 12 Months

After twelve months you could now be getting the full benefits of Finasteride. Your hair might be strong and thick, with your hairline further forward. There should be some significant hair regrowth.

The results don’t always end there. Some people notice that their results peak after taking Finasteride for two years. They report significant improvements 12 to 24 months after they’ve started their treatment.

If you reach one year of taking Finasteride without any results, it might be worth speaking to your clinician about your treatment options. Finasteride might only be stopping further hair loss, and not stimulating new hair growth. You should consider some alternatives if you want to regrow your hair.

Finasteride shedding

After a few months of starting their hair-loss treatment with Finasteride, some people notice that their hair starts to shed. Although shedding might seem like the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve, it’s nothing to worry about. In fact, it means that the treatment is working. You should take it as a good sign.

What if Finasteride isn’t working?

Taking Finasteride doesn’t guarantee that your hair will grow back. Even though many people see results, not everyone will. If you feel like Finasteride isn’t working after six months, you shouldn’t stop taking it. Speak to your clinician first, as some men only experience optimal results after six months. It can take even longer than six months in some cases. If you stop taking Finasteride abruptly, your hair may start thinning and falling out even faster than it was before your treatment.

Can you speed Finasteride up?

No, you can’t speed Finasteride up. You shouldn’t take more Finasteride than recommended to speed up the process. It may not work and may lead to some nasty side effects.

Finasteride also comes in 5mg tablets, but you shouldn’t take these to speed up the process. The higher dose is only available for people suffering from an enlarged prostate. Taking a 5mg dose of Finasteride instead of 1mg won’t accelerate the process, and it’s likely to cause you issues if you try to take it for your hair loss.

What happens when you stop using Finasteride?

Finasteride has a very short half-life. This means that it doesn’t stay in your system for too long after you take it. It is not a long-term solution for hair loss. Once you stop taking it, your hair will return to the level that it was before you started taking it within a few months Continuous use is the best option.

You may want to stop taking Finasteride because you’re getting side effects such as erectile dysfunction. Stopping Finasteride won’t always reverse this. This is something referred to as post-finasteride syndrome, or PFS. Post-finasteride syndrome is a disputed condition and hasn’t been widely verified by the scientific community. Conditions like erectile dysfunction are very common and easily treatable with a range of treatments.

If you started experiencing erectile dysfunction after starting Finasteride, you can continue your treatment, and use effective ED treatments like Viagra or Cialis alongside it. A physician may be able to advise you on what could be your best course of action.

How to get the best out of Finasteride - top tips from our clinicians

There are some dietary and lifestyle choices that might make your hair loss worse. Making some changes can impact the success of your hair loss treatment. Finasteride is effective, but it can work better if paired with a healthy lifestyle.

Some lifestyle choices that can slow down hair-thinning include:

  • A diet rich in salad greens can reduce the risk of developing MPB
  • A protein-rich diet can be beneficial for a lot of things, including hair health
  • Foods with a lot of vitamin A can help slow down your hair loss. These foods include sweet potato, spinach, carrots, broccoli, beef liver, and others
  • Supplementing with biotin, vitamin-D and a multivitamin can be really good for you, but you should consult with a clinician before taking them
  • Washing your hair every day can help with hair loss, but it can also be detrimental in other aspects. For example, it can make your hair drier or your scalp itch. If you decide to try this method, use a mild shampoo that’s designed for everyday use to avoid adverse effects
  • Wash your hair gently and let it dry naturally
  • Avoid perms and hair dyeing
  • Scalp massages have been proven to increase hair thickness significantly when practised long term.

Are there any other treatments for hair loss?

Hair loss can be frustrating, but we can help. Our clinicians are here to answer any questions you might have about hair loss, support you in any way you need, and advise you on the best course of treatment. Not all hair loss treatments are right for everyone, so talk to us and we’ll help you choose the best one for you.

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This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

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When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognized analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.

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