Bald men are rejoicing over two huge scientific developments that could one day make all their hair restoration dreams come true. One of these innovations comes in pill form and is a prescription drug called Propecia, which is already available. The other development comes from stem cell researchers and holds promise for the not too distant future (10-15 years).

Propecia, whose generic name is finasteride, helps hair grow back by blocking the conversion of testosterone into dihyrdo-testosterone, commonly referred to as DHT. DHT prevents hair from growing, so by blocking its formation, hair can begin to grow again.

The results of a clinical trial that tested the efficacy of Propecia revealed that 20% of men who took a small amount of the drug for a year grew back moderate to heavy amounts of hair! And another 30% grew some hair. The clinical trial also revealed that it took longer for some of the men to start regrowing hair; these men experienced positive results after taking the drug for 2 years. The best news is that finasteride has been demonstrated to help prevent prostate cancer, so this additional benefit is a further incentive for bald men to give Propecia a try, because bald men show an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

Sounds too good to be true? Perhaps. Propecia usage can reduce sex drive and cause impotence in some men, but these effects disappear when usage of the drug is halted. So, you must continue to take the drug indefinitely to keep the hair.

But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Propecia can help you restore your head of hair for the time being, and then sometime in the near future, stem cell cures for baldness will likely be available and will probably be the permanent answer for curing baldness once and for all. In 2004, a test performed on mice revealed that bald mice easily grew back their hair after being given stem cells that were engineered to induce hair growth.

It is not hard for scientists to imagine that one day they will be able to implant “blank-slate” stem cells into areas where men are bald, resulting in hair for life. These stem cell treatments are not coming tomorrow or next year, but are certainly within our reach as biologists continue to work with stem cells and make new discoveries.

So, for now, the bald community must settle for Propecia, the short-term solution for curing baldness. You should be careful, however, because it is not yet known whether the continuous consumption of Propecia has any negative long term consequences for your health. But, 10-15 years from now, biotech companies will likely provide a long-term solution with a cure for baldness at the genetic and cellular level, a solution that will make the rich and the rest of us hairy.