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If you started finasteride for the treatment of male pattern baldness, what will happen when you go off the drug? Will you get to keep the new hair you’ve grown or will it all fall back out again? The answer, coming up.
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And without any delay let’s get into it. What happens when you stop taking Finasteride? Are the hair gains you might have experienced permanent, or will all your new hair fall back out?
How Finasteride works
So first things first – to answer this question we need to understand finasteride’s mode of action. Finasteride inhibits an enzyme in our body called 5α –reductase. This enzyme is responsible for the conversion of testosterone to another hormone called DHT, which is short for Dihydrotestosterone. Now testosterone is the main male hormone, but our body also uses DHT in certain organs like the skin and prostate. DHT is necessary for normal male sexual development from gestation till around puberty, but unfortunately during adulthood it seems to exert a mostly negative influence. Its two most notable effects in adult males are a) causing the prostate to enlarge and b) causing the hair follicles in the scalp to miniaturize, leading to male pattern baldness. Accordingly, finasteride is sold under two brand names: Propecia for the treatment of male pattern baldness, and Proscar, which is available at a higher strength, for the treatment of benign prostate enlargement.
Finasteride efficacy and half-life
Now Finasteride is very efficient at blocking the production of DHT and lowering the concentrations of DHT both in the blood and the scalp, where it matters most. At the standard 1mg dosage it lowers DHT levels in the blood by around 70%, and in the scalp by 65%. These lowered DHT scalp levels halt the follicle miniaturization process and allow hairs to resume their normal growth cycle. The result is that the male pattern baldness not only stops progressing but some hair can actually also grow back.
Finasteride is a very fast acting drug. It takes a couple of hours to be absorbed, and has a half life of around 5 to 7 hours. This means that about a week after you stop taking finasteride it will be out of your system completely. The blood and scalp DHT will then return to their previous levels, this increased DHT will once again start attacking the hair follicles, and the hair loss will resume.
Finasteride benefits won’t last when you quit
So unfortunately, Propecia will only give results for as long as you take it. That doesn’t mean of course that your hair will start falling out again the day after you quit it. Just like it takes at least 3 months to start seeing benefits from Propecia, it will take a few months for any new hair you’ve grown to start falling out again. But within 6 to 12 months of discontinuing Propecia, all the hair you’ve grown back while on the drug will fall off again. And it won’t matter if you were on Propecia for 2, 10 or 20 years.
Now at its core, the problem with Finasteride is that it doesn’t address the root cause of male pattern baldness, which is an increased susceptibility to the harmful effects of DHT on the hair follicle. All adult men have DHT circulating in their body and scalp, but only those with a predisposition to male pattern baldness will display follicle miniaturization and hair loss as the result of DHT action. Finasteride doesn’t address this puzzle: it merely works by blocking this complex chain of male pattern baldness events at the second to last step, the stage where DHT is synthesized.
Now this increased susceptibility to DHT is still a mystery, and nobody can claim to have a full answer. But at least part of the solution, as we have explained at length elsewhere, might lie with scalp tension.
This video is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease.