ANOUNCER: In our culture, it's women who are usually encouraged to think about their hair. Maybe that's why acknowledging hair loss is something many men have a hard time with.
MAX NORAT: Well, hair loss is very difficult. You feel like you're aging... you don't feel good about yourself.
EDWARD SIVIGMY: I think a lot of men are in almost denial about it. They think they're fooling people, because you see so many guys out there that comb their hair from left to right and think people don't notice, or wearing toupees that are so obvious that it's almost laughable.
ANOUNCER: Other men are quicker to recognize their problem and act on it.
LOUIS VEIL: When I first started to notice that my hair was thinning, I wanted to do something about it right away. So probably not more than a matter of a couple weeks upon noticing that I was thinning did I seek out the advice of friends and then the advice of doctors. So I would say that by the time I noticed some thinness and I contemplated it momentarily, within a couple weeks I had a prescription.
ANOUNCER: Patient advocate Spencer Kobren, Founder and Director of the Bald Truth Foundation, knows a lot about the worries and fears of men struggling with hair loss.
SPENCER KOBREN: One of the first questions I get when someone is new to hair loss and just found a program. They ask me whether or not the products they hear advertised work. For instance, some of the over-the-counter stuff and also even Propecia. They're afraid because they hear all of the language that's involved and the side effects. They don't really realize that this product could change their lives.
ANOUNCER: Not all men are bothered by hair loss. And for many, their concerns eventually outweigh their hesitations.
EDWARD SIVIGMY: As a man looks at himself in the mirror and he gets used to it, it takes him a long time, I think-at least it did for me-to actually decide to do something about it. And also, your life circumstances change until all of a sudden you decide, "I think I should maybe try and do something about it." So I would say it took me 20 years to really decide emotionally that I would look for some procedure that wasn't obvious.
ANOUNCER: The first line of defense for many men is drug therapy, both prescription pills, and over-the-counter skin treatments.
LOUIS VEIL: At the time that I decided to seek treatment, I was only aware of basically two different avenues: you could either go the topical route or the pharmaceutical route. I liked the idea much better taking one tiny pill once a day and getting into that and hoping for the best. So I immediately consulted a couple friends of mine who were doctors and got some opinions and decided to go on Propecia.
ANOUNCER: Whichever medications you choose, it's a well-known fact that starting early, and setting patient's expectations are the key to good results.
LOUIS VEIL: Ideally what I expected from Propecia was the stopping of the thinning process of my hair. I would have been perfectly content at that point. As I said, I wasn't that far gone, so I would have been perfectly content to just maintain whatever hair I had. Certainly if I got any additional hair growth as a result of it, that was an added bonus, and I think I did. The receding hairline stopped, the hairline I have now is the same as I've had my whole life practically. And the thinning on top actually filled in. So I got what I expected.
ANOUNCER: However, even men who are eager to start treatment should learn everything they can about the medical options they're considering.
ANOUNCER: Some men with more advanced hair loss find the answer to their problem in hair restoration surgery. The procedure involves moving small units from the back of the head into the frontal hairline. It is often down while the patient is awake.
EDWARD SIVIGMY: Initially, my fear factor was quite high when I walked in here early in the morning, because I really didn't know what to expect. Because you can be told anything but you've got to go through it. And it really was very different. I-the pain is minimal. The only problem I had, and I found this with every guy who has gone through it, is the first night, when you're on your back in your room or in bed or you're sleeping or trying to sleep, you have some discomfort from your donor area.
MAX NORAT: I began to see growth about three to four months out, small stubble type of growth. And about the 8th month is when I saw a substantial growth. I'm very, very satisfied with the results. It met my expectations of having some framing of my face. It gave me a youthful, a more youthful look. I wasn't necessarily interested in looking younger. I'm very happy to be the age I am, but I did want to have some kind of vibrant, youthful look.
ANOUNCER: But getting the procedure is not a decision to be taken lightly.
EDWARD SIVIGMY: So there's a lot of thinking to go into it, and a lot of research, and I would say to every guy out there who is even thinking about it to do the research, go to the seminars, and talk to other men who have had it done, which is the single best way to find out what it's really all about, because there's a lot of stuff out there, a lot of myths out there about what it is, and it if you talk to people who have had it done, you can find out what reality is.
ANOUNCER: So if hair loss is making you unhappy, now is the time to look into your options.
LOUIS VEIL: If it doesn't bother you, it's no big deal. If it does bother you then it is a big deal. And if it does bother you rather than complain about it, you have to do something about it. You should investigate what your choices are. Talk to friends, talk to doctors and make a decision. Be proactive and do something about it.