Dear Dr. Rassman,
I found this blog a very interesting read, and I appreciate you taking the time to answer questions online like this. It has been a wonderful resource in coming to terms with the somewhat shocking discovery of my hair loss.
I am about to start treatment with propecia for my thinning top, but there’s something that has been nagging me:
I want to heed this blog’s earlier recommendation and wait until after a year on propecia before trying Rogaine. But isn’t it “the earlier, the better” even with propecia working in the background? Wouldn’t this delay risk my potential for improvement? Wouldn’t it risk killing miniaturized or dormant hair?
It is my hope to completely eliminate the visible thinning with medical treatment. I realise my odds aren’t super great, but I also feel it wouldn’t take much improvement to achieve this. My hairline has receded to mature levels but seems stable. I will be 25 this year and I only noticed my thinning a month ago.
Generally, when I recommend a medical treatment for androgenic alopecia (AGA), I only have two proven medications I can recommend: (1) Rogaine (topical minoxidil), and (2) Propecia (oral finasteride 1mg). While you can start taking both treatments at once, it would be difficult to assess which medication had more or no benefit. So I usually give the patient a choice on one medication and they use it for 6 to 12 months to assess how it is helping their hair loss issue before we add on the second medication.
Also, in practical (real world) terms, it is a hassle for men who are not used to taking any medication to stick with the regimen of taking a pill every day (Propecia) and putting on a topical medication twice a day (Rogaine). Before they know it, most patients get lazy, forget to take the medication, or forget to resupply the medication when they run out. I find that in a good percentage of time, the failure of a medication is related to the poor compliance issue. This not only applies to Propecia, but many other medications.
So yes, while starting both at the same time allows you to potentially see your maximum benefits begin sooner, it’s a lot for most men to keep up with every day. And who knows — since you just noticed your thinning, only one of the meds might be all you need.