Finasteride is one of the top treatments for combating androgenetic alopecia in men. Hair restoration is never a quick fix, but finasteride is widely considered to be safe and effective. FDA approval and mass marketing also make the drug more trustworthy and appealing.
But even with plenty of clinical support and millions of prescriptions, finasteride does come with limitations. Even the most responsive patients won’t see immediate results, and users must exercise patience before things start to turn around for the better.
To give patients a more realistic set of expectations for their finasteride use, let’s talk about the medicine in more detail and map out a timeline to reference on your journey moving forward.
It’s worth going back to basics before examining the typical finasteride timeline. Here’s what you need to know about the drug, who it’s for, and how to obtain it.
Finasteride was originally developed for prostate health, but early experiments showed that patients grew hair on their scalp with consistent results.
On closer inspection, researchers found finasteride to be an effective 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, which limits the activity of DHT in the scalp, leading to hair loss in men.
By stopping DHT in its tracks, finasteride helps men to keep existing hair for longer and strengthen currently functioning follicular units.
Thanks to improved distribution channels and mass production, Finasteride has never been easier to obtain. Although you can get a finasteride prescription fairly quickly via online pharmaceutical companies, we always urge patients to take medicine under the direct supervision of their general physician or a hair restoration specialist.
The typical finasteride prescription is roughly 5mg per day, once per day, taken orally with or without food.
Because the drug interacts primarily with male sex hormones – DHT being a byproduct of testosterone – only biological men are recommended to take finasteride.
In some cases, trans men may be encouraged to try finasteride to mediate masculinization processes. Still, these matters are usually in the domain of a hormone specialist rather than a hair loss expert.
Patients may read articles about finasteride, scroll social media posts, and talk with friends and physicians to discover more about the drug. But the most common question often goes unanswered: how long does it actually take to start working?
Like all things in the medical sphere, the speed and scope of results from finasteride will vary based on genetic and external factors of all kinds. However, we’ve compiled a variety of information to generate this typical timeline for finasteride use and give you a solid foundation for what to expect.
Finasteride is similar to other drugs in that a lack of noticeable results characterize the first several weeks of treatment. In fact, many patients report seeing a continuation in hair loss during this initial phase or even an acceleration of the patterns they’ve already experienced.
The shedding of existing hairs is not something to fear during this early stage. Instead, it’s a sign that follicular life cycles are resetting and preparing to start anew. This is why patients are recommended to stick with finasteride use for at least three months before they assess the overall effectiveness of the drug.
During these first weeks, patients should try to avoid being overly anxious regarding the quality or quantity of their hair. It’s better to passively observe patterns and wait until later to draw conclusions. On the other hand, patients should take any side effects experienced during this time into consideration.
The next several months will usually represent a turning point in hair loss, or at the very least, a slowing in the rate of hair loss patients have experienced.
Patients should start paying closer attention to trends around the two-month mark, since the majority of shedding has occurred and made way for renewed follicular life cycles.
Different patients will notice improvements in different areas of the scalp, from the frontal region and temples to the characteristic “bald spot” on the top of the head.
After six months, patients should have a good idea of whether finasteride is working for them and if the pros outweigh the cons.
We suggest that patients set a follow-up meeting with their hair loss specialists around the six-month mark, wherein they can discuss the objective results of the medication thus far, in addition to any subjective experiences and personal issues.
Once patients have used finasteride for a year or two, the majority of results will have already taken place. It’s rare to see dramatic outcomes after this period of time, since most hormonal and chemical changes take place within the first 12 months.
However, the following 12 months is a good opportunity for patients to take their treatment plan to the next level after having seen the baseline results from finasteride take form.
Doctors may introduce techniques like microneedling or start planning for a more permanent procedure like a hair transplant.
Leading doctors will be able to assess when finasteride has done its job and when it’s time to start introducing other treatments and medical interventions to capitalize on those results.
After the two-year mark, patients and doctors can draw meaningful conclusions about the effectiveness of the finasteride regimen and determine best practices moving forward.
This could mean the continuation of finasteride use as usual, an alteration in dosage, or the introduction of other medications or treatments to further promote results and regenerate more hair.
As always, these are individual cases that must be treated as such, accounting for the full range of external conditions, genetics, and the aspirations of the client.
If finasteride proves successful in the first two years, including minimal side effects, patients may stay on the medication for as long as possible. It’s not unheard of for men to continue using finasteride for life, especially now with widespread production and accessibility.
Here is a quick checklist to find out if you should keep taking finasteride or if it’s time to take a different approach.
Tracking hair retention results sounds easy – just look in the mirror each morning and check the shower drain for shedding, right? In practice, however, finasteride users sometimes fail to observe their results objectively, which emphasizes the importance of doctor supervision and extra accountability.
This could mean taking weekly photos of the scalp from multiple angles or going in for more frequent checkups with doctors to measure results. The more you can observe results with objectivity rather than feelings and emotions, the more you’ll get from finasteride and all other methods.
Finasteride side effects are rare but can include issues with sex drive, prostate problems, blood pressure, and liver health. Patients should never ignore any of these signs, however minimal.
If side effects prove to be concerning, there are plenty of other ways to approach hair restoration that don’t involve continued finasteride use.
Whether you choose to further the effects of finasteride with other protocols or make the switch away from this medicine altogether, you’ve got options. Here are some of the most common ways that patients make the most of finasteride or move in another direction.
Finasteride users report getting more from their medication by optimizing their lifestyles via nutrition, exercise, stress mitigation, and sleep. Avoiding chronic stressors on the body can work wonders for hair growth, and this may require shifting priorities towards health and well-being.
Sometimes, natural supplements may be the missing key to “unlock” the active mechanisms of finasteride that may not have kicked in for months.
Mineralization and hormone optimization are good places to start, since most people have at least one major systemic imbalance that should be addressed. Whether it’s magnesium replenishment, testosterone boosting, or a range of other tactics, supplements can make a big difference in how finasteride works for you. You should consult your doctor for a personalized supplement routine based on your goals and medical history.
Many patients use finasteride to set a foundation for their hair loss protocols, then use it as a launchpad for major surgical overhauls in the form of transplants.
FUT or FUE are both on the table for today’s patients, as industry leaders like Dr. Jae Pak blaze new trails with techniques and high-tech instruments. Finasteride is typically recommended as a follow-up to surgery as a way to get the most mileage from the procedure long-term.
Everyone will have a unique experience with finasteride. That goes for the timeline of results in the short term and for many years to come. With continued observation and a focus on smart supplementation, patients can position themselves for superior results from finasteride and drugs like it.
If you’re ready to use finasteride the right way and take hair restoration more seriously, connect with Jae Pak, M.D. today and discover what’s possible.
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