We don’t ordinarily think of hair loss as being a problem for women. However, it is a very common issue for women in their 50’s and 60’s and, in fact, can occur at a much younger age. Female hair loss can be from a variety of causes including many medical conditions such as thyroid disorders, anemia, and auto-immune disorders as well as from common conditions such as stress and pregnancy. It can also be the result of the use of harsh hair products or treatments. Some hair styles can also be detrimental to healthy hair by constantly pulling the hair away from the scalp. Over time, corn rows or tight braids can cause what is called traction alopecia. The most common kind of female hair loss is androgenic alopecia and this condition affects more than 30 million American women according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
In patients with androgenic alopecia, the hair follicle slowly shrinks in size and begins to produce a weak thin hair. Eventually, the follicle dies and stops producing hair. As this process continues over the scalp, a general appearance of thinning hair develops. Women may see the part in their hair becoming wider or see more of their scalp exposed when the hair is pulled back. Thinning hair can be devastating to many women as their hair may be a big part of how they see themselves. It can affect their self confidence and sense of well being.
What can be done if you begin to lose your hair? There are several simple ways to tell if you are losing your hair at an unusually fast rate. It is normal to lose hair on a regular basis. Ordinarily, we will lose anywhere from 50-100 hairs per day. The number can increase up to several hundred hairs on days that the hair is washed. By looking at your pillow in the morning, or at the comb after brushing, you can tell if you are losing more than your normal amount. Since there are many medical conditions that can cause hair loss, it is important to be evaluated by a physician to rule out reversible medical causes. Once reversible medical conditions have been ruled out and androgenic alopecia diagnosed you can consider improving your situation with a hair transplant. Since female hair loss is more of a diffuse process over the entire scalp, careful development of a treatment plan is critical to a successful outcome. Although the original density of hair can never be achieved with a transplant, properly transplanted hair can help improve the appearance of continued thinning. Considering changing your hair style is another way to use existing hair to properly conceal the scalp. This can help diminish the overall appearance of thinning hair by softening the contrast between the scalp and the hair. Hair color is also important to soften the contrast. Lighter colors or gray tones for the hair work best for lighter colored skin tones. Darker hair colors tend to work better as the skin tones darken. There are also several camouflaging products on the market that can be applied to the scalp which will help decrease the appearance of thinning hair.
Transplanting hair in females is done technically the same as in males. We take healthy permanent hair follicles from the back and sides of the scalp and transplant them, in tiny micrografts, to the top of the scalp in areas of hair loss. The donor site, where the grafts are taken, is carefully closed with plastic surgical technique leaving no undesirable scar or tell tale sign that might affect your appearance. The grafts are then placed in tiny sites made with a needle or small scalpel in the areas deemed to be most
important in achieving the overall goal of a thicker appearance. The process is done under local anesthesia along with an oral sedative so that you are comfortable throughout the procedure. Generally, for women with diffuse hair loss a transplant session will include 2000 grafts. This usually takes 4-5 hours from start to finish. Recovery is fairly simple and requires staying away from heavy work or strenuous exercise for a couple of weeks. Most patients have some swelling around the forehead for a few days after the procedure which resolves on its own.
When it comes down to it, the best you can do is take good care of the hair that you have. Be careful using hair products or styles that can cause you to lose hair. If you have a medical issue that is treatable, be sure and see a physician promptly and get treatment. The sooner you can treat a medical related issue the less hair you will lose in the process. After you have been diagnosed with androgenic alopecia consider a hair transplant. Realize it will never be as thick as it was originally but with a proper treatment plan and working with your color and style you can minimize the impact on your appearance and maintain your self confidence and self esteem.