Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 2/15/2023
Can hair grow back after balding? It’s likely one of the most searched phrases among men of a certain age — especially the ones who’ve been seeing a little more of their scalp than they’re used to.
Growing your hair back after going bald is the stuff of dreams for a lot of guys, and the stuff of science fiction when you ask the experts. Most of them will tell you the hard, simple truth: when your hair is gone, it’s gone.
Strictly speaking, though, your hair isn’t always gone when it’s gone. There are a few limited circumstances where hair can grow back after it’s lost — and even a few circumstances in which it can be brought back from the great bald beyond after a male pattern baldness death sentence.
But don’t get your hopes up too high — for the most part, balding is permanent. Understanding why is where we should start this conversation.
Before we talk about hair growth, we should talk about why you’d want to regrow it in the first place. There are many reasons your hair might fall out.
We lose a substantial number of hair follicles every day as part of our hair’s natural growth phases. You might also experience sudden hair loss as a result of bodily trauma, illness, significant surgeries, major weight loss and other physiological triggers.
But hair loss covers a lot of potential scenarios. Balding, on the other hand, is a very specific scenario.
“Balding” is a common term for a condition called male pattern balding, male pattern hair loss or, as the doctors call it, androgenic alopecia.
It’s a genetic condition in which your hair follicles are essentially killed off by a hormonal imbalance. A specific form of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone, which we’ll simply refer to as DHT, can affect the blood flow to your hair follicles, killing them off.
Now, practically speaking, going “bald” suddenly or in odd patterns can be a sign of another illness. In men with male pattern hair loss, the typical pattern is a receding hairline coupled with thinning hair or a bald spot that forms at the crown of the head.
If small, irregular bald spots are forming all over your head or body, then technically it’s not the “balding” we know as a genetic problem in men — it may be caused by another health issue or type of hair loss altogether, especially if you're seeing patchy hair loss.
Other types of hair loss include:
Alopecia areata (hair loss due to autoimmune disease)
If your symptoms don’t exactly mirror male pattern baldness, you may want to check out our guides to these other types of hair loss to see if they’re a closer match.
So you’re probably asking what can be done to reverse hair loss in men with balding. Some men, after all, may not notice changes to their hairlines until those changes become major. Can anything be done to undo those changes?
Here’s the thing: complete hair loss from male pattern balding is often permanent hair loss, given enough time.
Men may see limited hair regrowth from using medications to treat their balding, but generally speaking, once a hair follicle has been made dormant and unproductive for long enough, it’s dead. Dead follicles don’t come back.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, only some men see regrowth of hair from medications. If you want to regrow lost hair, your best shot is starting treatment immediately, which can increase your likelihood of successfully regrowing follicles you’ve just lost.
For most men, regrowth isn’t guaranteed. In fact, the primary reason to start treatment, arguably, is to prevent further hair loss, which is what most FDA-approved medications and treatment options are best at doing.
Hair damage that results from androgenetic alopecia and certain types of scarring hair loss are almost always permanent, especially if left untreated for long enough.
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
“Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger!”
“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
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“I’m a 34 year old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid twenties.”
If you’ve already started to notice signs that your hair is fading, thinning, retreating, absconding or otherwise dispersing from your once-crowded crown, it’s time to do something about it — and we suggest doing something with a proven medical treatment.
One of the most effective medications for hair loss on the market today is minoxidil, better known by its brand name Rogaine. Minoxidil is an oral medication that protects and encourages hair growth by increasing blood flow to your hair follicles, which can be reduced by certain types of hair loss.
With minoxidil, your hair follicles receive oxygen and nutrients, and like plants on the brink finally being watered, they can really bounce back after a few months of use.
Another way to protect yourself from the ravages of male pattern baldness is finasteride. Finasteride (also known as Propecia) actually blocks the effects of DHT directly, reducing the volume of it in your system.
This lessens the effects of DHT on your hair, which means that you’ll experience less hair loss in general if DHT is the cause of your hair loss.
There are other ways to reduce the appearance of baldness. Everything from hair transplants to laser treatments has been explored by the scientific community, and some of these treatments offer modest proof that they’re beneficial — though maybe not worth the costs associated with them.
That last part is up to you. Just how much money do you want to spend restoring your hairline? Just how dependent on your hairline is your self-confidence? Truth be told, many men look great bald. Acceptance isn’t the most profound “treatment” for hair loss, but it can work gracefully for many men.
Your hair may or may not come back after hair loss has struck. The more time has passed, the worse the news generally is, but the only way to know for sure is to get in touch with a healthcare professional.
If you’re seeing more hair strands in the sink, growing them back or protecting the ones you still have is a task for a healthcare professional to help you with.
Our hair health resources are a great place to start that conversation. There you can connect with healthcare professionals who can diagnose and treat hair loss whether it’s due to balding or some other type of hair loss.
Our experts can also recommend lifestyle changes and products to switch to in order to protect the hair you have — something that becomes more important the first time you realize you’re losing what you’ve got.
In the meantime, take balding seriously. Get help soon, so that whether you choose to protect what you’ve got or rock a bald top, it’s your choice.