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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 it’s left untreated.

Finasteride is the generic hair loss tablet, and also the name of the active ingredient of Propecia (the branded version). It’s a very effective treatment method for those affected by MPB. At its best Finasteride can increase the amount of hair on your head and make it thicker, but sometimes it’s only able to prevent further hair loss from happening. A pilot study on men affected by MPB published some pictures of before and after Finasteride treatment and the progress is visible and substantial after six months of treatment.

Daniel Atkinson
Medically reviewed by
Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead

Although it’s not guaranteed, most men will see their hair grow back when they use Finasteride – given a long enough timeline. A study that tested how well Finasteride works for the treatment of MPB claimed that, five years into their treatment, 77% of the men who were tested had experienced hair growth.

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Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical Lead
on October 28, 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, whilst 1mg is used for hair loss.

Finasteride works by stopping testosterone from being converted into DHT , a hormone responsible for a lot of male functions. This hormone is important in your teenage years, as it helps you develop through puberty, but it can be detrimental to you as an adult. It’s known to cause issues like male pattern baldness, as it shrinks and weakens your hair follicles. By stopping testosterone from being converted into DHT, Finasteride contributes towards an overall lowering of DHT levels in your body, and as a result, a reversal (or halting) 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, some will only get this benefit after a few years. But some men won’t experience any regrowth at all, as the treatment will only be stopping your hair loss from worsening. The younger you are, the more likely you are to notice your hair re-grow, as male pattern baldness is more likely to improve if you start treating it 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. So even if there’s no visual difference, you might be able to feel the new hair coming through if you move your hair gently against your head.

It usually takes 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 eventually happen if you give it time.

  • Months 1 - 3

  • Months 3 - 6

  • Months 6 - 12

  • After 12 months

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 see any noticeable improvements.

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

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

You might start noticing some results at this stage. Maybe you’ll notice an increase in the amount of hair you have. It might be thicker, and your hairline might even be showing signs of improvement. But the biggest change should be to the rate at which you’re losing hair – at this stage your hair loss should halt (or at least slow down).

But don’t be discouraged if you’ve been taking Finasteride for six months and you 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.

In this period, the results of your hair loss treatment should be reaching their peak. As Finasteride should start 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. It’s a good idea to take some pictures of your hair before you start your treatment so you can create some picture comparisons, as it will help you to see your progress better.

After twelve months you should now be getting the full benefits of Finasteride. Your hair might have thickened and gotten stronger and your hairline could have moved further forward, showing some significant hair regrowth.

But the results don’t always end there, some people notice that their results after taking Finasteride for two years are even better - with significant improvements happening from 12 to 24 months after they’ve started their treatment.[popoverid=ref6]

Although it’s all about time and patience (and you should persist with the treatment if you don’t see results by the six-month mark), if you reach one year of taking Finasteride and you don’t notice any results it might be worth speaking to your clinician about your treatment options. Finasteride might just be stopping further hair loss, and not stimulating new hair growth. If that’s the case you might need to consider some alternatives if you’d hoped to regrow your hair.

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, so you should take it as a good sign.

Finasteride isn’t a guarantee that your hair will grow back, so even though many people see results, not everyone will. But if you feel like Finasteride isn’t working after six months, you shouldn’t stop taking it. Speak to your clinician first, because some men only experience real results after at least six months, and it can take even longer than that in some cases. If you stop taking it abruptly, your hair might start thinning and falling out even faster than it was before your treatment.

No, you can’t speed Finasteride up. You shouldn’t take more Finasteride than you’re supposed to in order to speed up the process, because not only will it not work, it might also give you some nasty side effects.

Finasteride also comes in 5mg tablets, but you shouldn’t take this to speed up the process either. The higher dose is only available for people suffering from an enlarged prostate. Taking 5mg 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.

Finasteride has a very short half-life – meaning that it doesn’t stay in your system for too long after you take it. This means it’s 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 , so continuous use is your best option.

If you want to stop taking Finasteride because you’re getting some side effects, such as erectile dysfunction, it’s possible that stopping Finasteride won’t reverse this. These symptoms, and a few others that are said to stay with you once you’ve stopped taking Finasteride, are usually 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. What’s more, conditions like erectile dysfunction are very common, and easily treatable with a range of medications, so you shouldn’t need to worry too much.

If you started experiencing erectile dysfunction after you started your hair loss treatment, you can continue your treatment, and use effective ED treatments like Viagra or Cialis alongside it. If you speak to one of our clinicians, they’ll 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 be making your hair loss worse, so making some changes can have a big impact on your hair loss treatment. Finasteride is effective, but it can be even 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 potentially 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 give this method a go, use a mild shampoo that’s designed for everyday use to avoid any 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, after following the method for some time

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 together we’ll help you to choose the best one for you.

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This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead on October 28, 2022. Next review due on October 28, 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 recognised analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.

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