Women and Hair Transplants
WHY WOULD A WOMAN NEED HAIR TRANSPLANT?
With approximately 40 million men in the United States suffering from male pattern baldness, the subject makes for popular debate on why, when, and how (to cure).
Less often acknowledged is the female counterpart to this condition: female pattern baldness. According to the American Health Journal, a surprising 21 million women suffer with hair loss. By the age of 40, 50% of all women will experience pattern baldness to some extent. Men aren’t the only ones in need; women need hair transplantation, too! Especially considering social expectations of women, and hair in relation to femininity and beauty.
One major difference between men and women when it comes to hair loss is that women are more susceptible to other causes, especially temporary hair loss conditions. Aside from female pattern baldness, some reasons for hair loss in women include:
- Alopecia areata
- Traction alopecia
- Untreated hypothyroidism
- Lack of sleep
- Medication use
- Telogen effluvium
- Folic acid deficiency
- Vitamin deficiency; especially in iron, which is the cause of anemia
WOMEN’S HAIR TRANSPLANT FOR FEMALE PATTERN BALDNESS
Pattern baldness is a far different experience for women than for men. While the catalyst remains the same—hair miniaturization occurs at the presence of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), due to week androgen receptors in the follicle—the genetic element is not as prevalent. For men, an ancestry of pattern baldness is often a telltale sign of what’s to come regarding their hair health. For women there may be no family history of female pattern baldness whatsoever, and yet the condition may strike nonetheless. This constitutes an unpredictable need for women’s hair transplant.
Also, women lose their hair in a very different pattern from men. While men typically recede at the hairline, which then progresses to baldness over the crown, women generally experience a diffuse thinning across the top of the scalp. Women may incur this condition beginning as young as teen age, or at any age thereafter.
OTHER PERMANENT CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN
Trichotillomaniais an impulse-control disorder in which the sufferer cannot control the obsessive impulse to pluck, pull, or twist the hair. The hair pulled is usually the eyebrows, eyelashes, or scalp hair, and the result can be permanent hair loss. Women’s hair transplant would be considered as a solution, but only after psychotherapy treatment proves successful.
The cause of alopecia areata is unknown. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks and rids the hair follicles as if they are invasive matter in the body. Hair loss usually occurs in smooth round patches. The cyclical and unpredictable nature of this condition means that any attempt at women’s hair transplantation would probably prove futile, as the new hair would still be susceptible to the disease.
Traction alopecia occurs when the hair is recurrently pulled or there is friction or abrasion in the scalp area. This is most often due to particular hairstyling, such as frequent, tight braiding. Certain ethnic groups, such as African American women, are the most common sufferers of this condition.
Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, is an automimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue within the body. This can lead to dysfunction in many areas of the body, including the brain, joints, kidneys, skin, and hair growth.
TEMPORARY HAIR LOSS CAUSES IN WOMEN
All temporary causes of hair loss listed above, such as stress, pregnancy, and iron deficiency, would never be treated with women’s hair transplant. Most of them can simply be treated with a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and a daily multivitamin. Other, more serious ailments like telogen effluvium are long-term temporary.
Telogen effluvium is a disruption of the normal growth cycle of hair, causing more hairs than normal to get “stuck” in the telogen phase. The telogen phase is the resting phase, during which hair does not grow. The lack of growth leads to noticeable thinning. This disorder is onset by physiological and/or emotional stressors, such as crash diets, eating disorders, childbirth, drug use, etc. Again women’s hair transplant will not be a restorative solution. The disorder will usually relieve itself and the hair will eventually grow back. However, the health regimen stated above will be helpful to the recovery process.
HAIR TRANSPLANTATION AS A CURE FOR FEMALE BALDNESS
Women’s hair transplantation is a remarkable resource with today’s technologies. FUE, or follicular unit extraction, is considered the gold standard within the field. This technique involves the extraction of follicular units—natural groups of one to four hairs—from the donor area in order to implant them into the areas of baldness. The donor area consists of the back and sides of the head.
FUE is a permanent solution to female pattern baldness and many other forms of female hair loss. This women’s hair transplant procedure is minimally invasive, requires no sutures of any kind, allows for a quick recovery time, and leaves only negligible scarring.
FUE IN WOMEN: SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS
Generally women do not like their donor areas (back and sides of the head) to be shortened to an overall crew cut, as is the case with FUE in men. Most men are accustomed to sporting a crew cut, thus in male cases this does not present a problem. In women’s hair transplant however, this is typically unacceptable.
At DermHair Clinic, Dr. Umar is a world-leading hair transplant surgeon and an expert practitioner of FUE. When performing this procedure on women, Dr. Umar takes care to utilize a discreet donor area and shave/prepare it in such a way that will be conducive to concealment in the short-term aftermath of surgery.
He and his team shave a horizontal strip of scalp that is bordered on the top with enough hair quantity and length to drape over the shaved area. This leaves sufficient upper hair to conceal evidence of hair transplantation. The donor area typically heals within a matter of weeks, and shaved hair will grow back at its normal rate while remaining unnoticeable to others.