• Hair Loss Has Destroyed My Life: Jake’s Story

    I am writing this on a Saturday night. Even 2 years ago I would be out on Saturday nights being social and loving it. I was a senior in high school then with absolutely no signs of hair loss, and looking forward to everything the future was going to bring me.

    That was then, and now a completely different story.

    I am ONLY 20 (not 25, 26) years old and within only 2 years have almost gone completely bald with diffuse male pattern baldness. Everyday my life is a struggle and its slowly ripping me apart. To make matters worse, there are no signs of hair loss in my family. Hair loss has changed my life so much its really amazing. People started making comments my first year of college and I just ignored it, but when my hair really started going I started to have panic attacks and soon I was forced to move back home and leave that college. Read more ›

  • Life Hijacked By Hair Loss – Getting It Back: Tee Jay’s Story

    Spencer: Thanks for what you do, my friend. I know I speak for many when I say we appreciate it. Here’s my story.


    I was 24 years old and enjoying an awesome career as a graduate student out of state. Graduation was eminent, and so were the lucrative job offers. Life was good. Nothing could mess this up.

    That’s until my genetics decided to rear their ugly head.

    I’ll never forget it. I was staying with my parents in California during Christmas of 1997. I was standing in front of a mirror one day brushing my hair, and my mom approached me to say something. To this day, I don’t know what she wanted to say, because she was distracted by what she saw, and instead decided to say: “Tee-Jay, you’re getting a little soft up here, huh?”. She put her fingers near my frontal hairline.

    Huh?!??! You’re kidding, right mom? My hair is just wet and full of mousse, so of course it’s looks soft right now. Regretfully, she wasn’t kidding. During my Christmas break in California, I had the chance to see other family and friends. A few of them made similar comments. Right in front of me, a friend of the family looked at my mom and said “Tee-Jay is losing his hair up top, eh?”. Gee, thanks, it’s nice to see you too. A-hole.

    I guess I was in denial about my hair loss until then. But, now with these comments so readily made directly to my face, as if I had no sensitivities at all, the fight began. My fight against hair loss.

    Admittedly I hadn’t a clue what I was doing when I started the fight. I left California for my last semester of graduate school. Shortly after I got there, I went to a hair salon for a hair cut. And guess what? The hair stylist decided to point out my hair loss, too. (Guess how much of a tip I gave him.). But he did get my attention. With my sensitivity about my hair loss so incredibly heightened after my trip home to California, this hair stylist knew just what to say. He said: “Have you ever heard of Nioxin?”. Nope, never have. But he sold me on the fact that I needed to start using it to get my hair back. He said it will “bio-stimulate my scalp”. WOW! Bio-stimulate? Sounds awesome. As a student I was pretty broke, and the Nioxin stuff cost 90 bucks. But I didn’t even hesitate. I bought a bunch of Nioxin products. After all, I needed the bio-stimulation to get my lost hair back and to stop further progression. I remember using the Nioxin shampoo in the shower. It made my scalp feel VERY tingly, and I thought “It’s working!”. No more hair loss, I won the fight. Mind you, I’m a hardcore scientist/engineer type – I need data to understand and prove things. But not in this case, the word “bio-stimulate” and a tingly scalp were all I needed.

    Unfortunately the Nioxin didn’t arrest my hair loss as I originally thought, and the proof came 6 months later, when I graduated and moved back home to California. My family and friends, as sensitive as they can be, decided to point out my continued hair loss. UGH! This is supposed to be the best time of my life and it has been totally jacked with hair loss issues.

    The next level of the fight began. I was watching late nite TV (I know you know where this is going), and there was this miraculous, never-ending infomercial from a big hair transplant clinic. Wow, they had the answers to everything. They made it look so easy. They had celebrities too. And they had these incredible before and after pictures! I couldn’t stop watching and I couldn’t wait for the nite to turn into morning, so I can find their nearest California office, and make my appointment. And that’s exactly what I did. A few days later I was in their upscale California office, talking face-to-face with a NON-physician, who was telling me everything I wanted to hear. He said “So your hair loss is affecting the way you comb it? We can fix that with a hair transplant.” Later a doctor came in, but by that time, I was sold. He could have said anything. What’s amazing is they never recommended any sort of treatment plan. Never mention Propecia. Never mentioned Rogaine. Never mentioned how many grafts they would recommend for a hair transplant. So, I decided I’d get 800 grafts. I have no idea why or how, but 800 seemed like a nice number. A few weeks later I was in the chair, and almost $7000 bucks left my pocket. I remember being presented with a long, complicated contract on the day of my surgery, while I was in the chair, just before being anesthetized. I had to sign it to proceed. That seemed odd. Why wasn’t I told about this 2 months earlier when I booked my surgery date?

    The results of the hair transplant started to kick in a few months later, but since my hair loss continued (at this point I hadn’t heard much about Propecia, and no one recommended it to me), the results didn’t show too well. It was basically just a wash. And, the results I did get didn’t look too natural. So much for the comment made on the infomercial: “Upon close inspection, no one will be able to tell”. So why were people’s eyes wandering to my head? Why did a hair stylist who was washing my hair say to me “so when did you get this done?”.

    So what did I do? I started to save money for my next hair transplant. I needed to fix this. I’m sure I just needed another hair transplant. A few years later, I went back to the same hair transplant clinic, ready to go. I said “I’d like the same doctor I had last time”. (And I let them know his name, too). But he was not there. I was told that he may have moved to another location, and that it was common for doctors to change locations. Instead I consulted with another doctor. This other doctor seemed oddly anxious and excited, but for some reason, it didn’t bother me. He said what I wanted to hear, so, that’s all I needed. I booked a date for my next surgery.

    Now, I’m a naturally very curious person, and something didn’t seem right about the nonchalant nature in which I was told that my previous doctor may have changed locations. A few nites later, I decided to poke around on the Internet, to see if I can find the new location that my previous doctor went to. I couldn’t believe what I found. He had quit working for the clinic some time ago, and was tangled in a lawsuit against them. He sued them. Many of the proceedings were freely available as public records, and the doctor had testified statements that blew my mind. His statements directly contradicted statements that were made in the infomercials, essentially claiming them to be false. The very infomercials that sold me! I was freaked out. I decided I didn’t want to go through with my second hair transplant with this clinic, and called them to cancel my surgery. Interestingly, a few days after I called to cancel, I received a letter from the clinic, which contained the new contact information of my original doctor.

    I felt stuck. I felt as though I exhausted all of my options. At least the options I was aware of. I was bound to be bald, with a little tuft of a mediocre hair transplant on top of my head.

    Then, one day at an NBA game, I remember seeing a fairly pronounced advertisement near the courtside. It was a website address, and by the name of it, I could easily tell it was the address to a hair loss treatment clinic. I logged into memory. I checked it out later that nite, and felt very comfortable with what I read. The website belonged to a doctor’s office. A small, private office. Not a big clinic where no one knows your name. I also learned that the doctor belonged to an organization called “International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons” (the IAHRS). I checked out the IAHRS website, too, and liked everything I read. The website acknowledged the over-marketing hype of big hair transplant clinics, and how they seemed to prey on the emotional sensitivities of hair loss sufferers. Eight years after my fight against hair loss started, it finally felt like a wave of genuine empathy towards my hair loss suffering was flowing in my direction.

    I scheduled a consultation with the IAHRS doctor a few weeks later. It was an awesome consultation. It felt so authentic, honest, and real. The doctor spent over an hour with me, and he never made it feel rushed. He taught me everything, about hair line design, follicular unit transplantation, density, available medications (Propecia), and more. He highly recommended that I start a Propecia regimen, and I did.

    Two years after my initial consultation with the IAHRS doctor, once I put my finances and scheduling together, I returned for a hair transplant. The whole experience was smooth as silk. Total comfort. And unlike my original hair transplant, in which 90% of the procedure was handled by technicians, with very little presence of the actual doctor, this IAHRS doctor was VERY present – 100% of the time. He led the whole surgery, start to finish.

    As of this writing, I am about 6 -7 months post op, and the results are beginning to show. The slight plugginess of my previous hair transplant are softening, and I am getting some nice density. My youth is coming back. I consider myself very lucky, because I almost proceeded down the path of multiple hair transplants with a clinic that didn’t feel to me as though they truly care about their patient’s results. Who knows where I would have landed and how much money I could have spent. But circumstances changed the course of my fight against hair loss, for the better.

    I’m 35 now. I’m on Propecia, and I’ve had 2 hair transplants, with the 2nd one being the only one I ever want to remember or talk about, because it was awesome, and the results are awesome. The IAHRS doctor is phenomenal, a true advocate of his patients, and a good, pure-hearted, empathetic man.

    And that’s my story. I hope my story helps any hair loss sufferers from avoiding some of the pitfalls and traps that are out there, and leads them into a legitimate treatment program that suits them the best.

    Good luck in your fights my friends. And be strong.

    Tee Jay

  • Are There Any Long Term Side Effects of Propecia? Does Propecia Harm The Liver?

    I have been using Propecia since it became available on the market, which is quite a few years. Have there been any adverse effects of using Propecia over a long period of time? Does this medication harm the liver in anyway?

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    Dear Jason,

    Finasteride was first approved by the FDA in 1992 as Proscar. As you’re probably aware, Proscar is a 5 mg dosage of Finsateride that is proscribed for the treatment of BPH or prostate enlargement. The 1 mg dose of finasteride, approved as Propecia in December of 1997, was the first truly effective treatment for male pattern hair loss.

    To my knowledge, in the sixteen years that finsateride has been on the market there have been no reports of any adverse effects on the liver of those using the drug for an extended period of time. As always, I have to state clearly that I am not a physician and that my opinions and knowledge concerning hair loss and its treatments are based on extensive research and reporting on the subject as a consumer advocate and hair loss educator.

    With this said, it’s important to note that Propecia cuts PSA levels in half after one year of use. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen and is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. The PSA blood test is commonly used to check for signs of prostate cancer and other related prostate problems. According to experts, men with prostate cancer often have elevated PSA levels because cancer cells make excessive amounts of this protein, Generally higher PSA levels are indicative of more cancer cells being present in your body. Now this isn’t always the case, it is possible to have prostate cancer without having elevated PSA levels, but the PSA test has been shown to significantly increase the ability for physicians to make an early diagnosis of the disease which is paramount for early intervention.

    Since Propecia is prescribed to young men in their 20s, 30s and 40s it is important to tell your doctor that you are taking the medication so that PSA levels can be more accurately determined. The general rule of thumb is to double the levels of those using Propecia for more than a year. It’s also imortant to note the the PSA blood test is not the only way for doctors to determine the presence of prostate cancer.

    Another long term concern that has been discussed in literature is the relationship between long term use of finasteride and male breast neoplasia or breast cancer.

    During a 4 to 6 year placebo-controlled study testing finasteride 5 mg on 3,047 men, there were 4 cases of breast cancer in men treated with Proscar but no cases in men given placebo. In another 4 year placebo controlled study testing Proscar using 3,040 men, there were 2 cases of breast cancer in placebo treated men, but no cases were reported in men treated with Proscar. To my knowledge there have been no significant reports that can directly connect long term use of finasteride to male breast cancer.

    As far as prostate cancer, the long term use of finasteride has recently been linked to a significant decrease in the risk of developing prostate cancer. Finasteride is also now being prescribed as a preventative treatment to some high risk patients, such as those with a strong family history of prostate cancer.

    On a personal note, I have been using the drug for more than fourteen years and at this point have experienced no adverse side effects that I am aware of. There are countless men all over the world who are successfully treating their hair loss with Propecia. In my opinion, at this point there is no known reason to be concerned about long term adverse side effects.

    Hope this helps,
    Spencer Kobren
    Host of The Bald Truth Radio Show
    Founder, American Hair Loss Association
    Founder and Director of Consumer/Patient Affairs, International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS.ORG)



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"Spencer Kobren's nationally syndicated show "The Bald Truth" has a dedicated listenership that would have Rush Limbaugh pulling his hair out in envy." --Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


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