Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/09/2021
Losing your hair is scary, and when you realize it’s happening, you can enter full-on panic mode.
Hair loss in men is quite common, but that doesn’t make it easier. And the sheer volume of “solutions” marketed online makes it difficult to know what treatments might be effective for you.
Hair replacement systems are one such solution.
They’re a legitimate camouflage method of treating hair loss, but may not be right for everyone.
For those new to the world of hair loss treatments, the phrase “non-surgical hair replacement systems” can be puzzling. What exactly are we talking about here?
Put simply, non-surgical hair replacement systems are the toupees of old. They’re wigs. But not your father’s hair piece. Hiding hair loss has come a long way.
In olden times, one man’s hair piece was likely quite similar, if not the same, to the next man’s — especially if they bought them at the same store.
These toupees would be used to cover balding areas, and what natural hair remained would be combed over the wig to conceal it as much as possible.
Now, it’s a different ballgame entirely.
Men struggling with hair loss can get custom-fitted for a hair piece, made with either synthetic or human hair.
And there are numerous types of hair replacement systems, differentiated largely by what material makes up the base of the system.
Lace-front hair replacement systems are considered ideal, because fine lace is used to soften the hair line. Where the hair ends at the hairline, the lace is almost invisible, giving the hair piece a more natural look.
Polyurethane hair replacement systems use super thin polyurethane designed to be undetectable both to the touch and to the eye.
Many hair pieces use a combination of polyurethane and lace, as well as silicon to mimic the appearance of skin.
How much you can expect to spend on a men’s hair replacement system depends on the materials, hair, and construction used.
For example, some methods are so complex they can take six months to create the system properly.
In cases like these, where a custom plaster mold is made of your scalp before human hair is hand tied into the system, you can expect to spend thousands of dollars.
In short, the more you spend, the more natural the hair system looks and the longer it lasts.
Hand-tied human hair moves more naturally and allows for more styling options, but you’ll pay more for it — thousands of dollars, in some cases.
However, where standard one-hair-piece-fits-all styles may last three to six months, custom made human hair wigs can last several years.
The downside to even the priciest hair replacement systems is they may not be comfortable, and can cause itching or dermatitis.
Non-surgical hair replacement systems aren’t for everyone. Ideally, it’d be great to have your natural hair back, right?
While that may not be entirely possible, there are treatments for male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, that could, at minimum, slow your hair loss.
It can promote hair growth and prevent further hair loss, according to scientific research. For the most part, it is well tolerated, though some sexual side effects can occur. If you’re considering this medical treatment, a healthcare professional can help you weigh the risks and benefits.
Topical minoxidil is a hair loss treatment you apply to your head. The positive effects of this medication have been proven out in scientific studies, and it’s approved by the FDA for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia.
Surgery is another alternative to hair replacement systems.
Hair transplants, where hair is physically removed from a densely covered area on your body to the balding area on your body, is effective but invasive, and can cause scarring. Micropigmentation or tattooing of the scalp is also considered a surgical hair loss treatment. These tattoos can fade with time and do not account for greying of the hair later in life.
Non-surgical hair replacement systems for men have come a long way in the past few decades.
For a few thousand dollars, you can likely get a very natural looking hair piece that allows you to swim and style your hair, and do all of the things you once took for granted.
But it’s worth remembering that it’s still only a hair piece. And not everyone is comfortable with that.
Chatting with your healthcare provider can help you determine if medical treatments for hair loss might be a viable alternative for you, if you’ve decided a hair replacement system is not the way to go.
Insider tips, early access and more.