Hair loss in women
Female hair loss can have a dismaying or even devastating influence on a woman's quality of life, not least because hair loss is, often wrongly considered, a less significant psychological and emotional problem for women than it is for men. Too often, a woman's hair loss is not taken seriously by family or friends or even by a woman's personal physician.
While hair loss itself can present psychological and emotional problems for a woman, failure of others to recognise the seriousness of these problems, may contribute to psychological and emotional effects that can range from decreased self-esteem to anxiety and depression.
Female hair loss may also be overlooked as a "normal" phenomenon. Gradual hair loss is often associated with ageing. Temporary hair loss is often associated with pregnancy. Very often, women have pattern hair loss that "runs in the family".
Hair loss in a woman should never be considered "normal"; however, the cause should be pursued until a diagnosis is established. Of the many causes of hair loss in women, only a few such as ageing, hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and hereditary pattern hair loss may be considered "normal". Treatment is available for hair loss due to these conditions, and treatment should be considered when hair loss influences the woman's quality of life. .
Different types of female hair loss
The Ludwig Scale (below) identifies the different types of female hair loss.
Common causes of Female Hair Loss
Below is a list of common causes in female hair loss:
- Androgenetic Alopecia - hereditary pattern hair loss with a typical pattern of diffuse thinning over the central scalp. It is the most common type of hair loss. It occurs in about 20% of women.
- Alopecia Areata - a recurrent disease of unknown cause, that results in patchy loss of hair from the scalp and/or eyebrows.
- Telogen Effluvium - a condition that causes shedding of hair over the entire scalp, it may be chronic but may also be acute following a stressful event; such as high fever, severe dietary deficiency, and chronic blood loss from heavy menstruation.
- Loose Anagen Syndrome - a condition that causes hair to shed before its normal growth cycle is completed. Hair can be pulled out by normal combing or brushing.
- Traction Alopecia - tight braiding and corn-rowing can, over time, cause permanent damage to hair and scalp and result in hair loss.
- Chemicals - some chemicals used in hair styling can, over time, cause permanent damage to hair and scalp and result in hair loss.
- Trichotillomania (compulsive hair plucking) - a person feels compelled to pluck hair in regular or bizarre patterns, resulting over time in traction alopecia and permanent hair loss.
- Scarring Alopecia - hair loss due to scarring of the scalp area. Scarring alopecia typically involves the top of the scalp and occurs predominantly in women. The condition frequently occurs in Afro-Caribbean women and is believed to be associated with persistent tight braiding or "corn-rowing" of the hair. A form of scarring alopecia may also occur in postmenopausal women, associated with inflammation of hair follicles and subsequent scarring.
- Hypothyroidism - thyroid deficiency can be associated with thinning, patchy hair loss.
- Pregnancy - hormonal changes and stress of pregnancy may cause temporary hair loss.
What treatments are available for female hair loss?
Non Surgical - Minoxidil (Rogaine)
The only non surgical female hair loss treatment available is topical Minoxidil (Rogaine). Finasteride can have under-masculinising effects on a male foetus; therefore, Finasteride should not be taken by a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant during a course of treatment. The use of Minoxidil to abate hair loss, should be viewed as a lifetime commitment if the regrowth is to be maintained. It does not replace all of the missing hair and the response to the treatment is individual.
Other female hair loss treatments, though not permanent, can be very effective. These include changing hairstyles, perming and colouring. Also hair extensions, hair weaves and hairpieces can be very effective in covering thinning areas.
Surgical - Female Hair Transplantation by Micro Follicular Grafting
Hair transplantation is almost always the surgical treatment choice for a woman. The procedure has a high rate of success in women suffering with hair loss, and the great majority of women are very satisfied with the results.
However, not all women are good candidates for hair transplantation. Since we are usually dealing with women who have only thinned or who can conceal their loss, it is uncommon for anything to show after treatment. We shall of course advise you if we believe this not the case in your circumstance. Some women are more suited to surgical hair loss treatment than others (and some are not suitable candidates at all). We shall endeavour to give you as realistic a picture as possible, of the type of result you can expect from your treatment.
Female Hair Transplant - the surgery
Modern techniques of surgical hair restoration, can restore lost hair and replace or re-shape your hairline with your own natural, growing hair. This needs no more care than the ordinary washing, styling and trimming you have always done. Transplantation can be done so well that often a hairdresser or stylist cannot even tell that grafts have been placed.
A female hair transplant in the UK involves:
- Removing permanent hair-bearing skin from the back and/or sides of the scalp (donor area).
- Using magnification, the tissue is dissected into follicular unit grafts (containing 1-4 hairs) and multi-follicular unit grafts (containing 3-6 hairs each).
- These small grafts are often meticulously planted into the bald or thinning area of the scalp (recipient area) as not to injure any follicles already existing in the area and at the same exact angle as the other hairs present.
- The creation of very small follicular unit grafts has enabled hair surgeon to create very natural, feathered hairlines, which do not have the abrupt "pluggy look" that was commonly seen in hair transplants of years past.
- Depending on the degree of balding in the frontal, mid-scalp and vertex (crown) areas, usually 2-3 procedures are performed.
- Hair transplant surgery today is remarkably well tolerated. Within 24 hours small crusts will form on each graft that are then shed in approximately 14-28 days.
- The grafted hairs will often start to grow by 16-20 weeks after the procedure and will continue to grow for most, if not all, of one's life.
One very important aspect of hair loss treatment for women is the planning. When beginning your hair restoration journey, you will be consulted by an experienced member of staff with the involvement of the surgeon at an early stage. As many pros and cons of your options will be examined with you, so that you are in a position to make an informed choice.
The risks of hair transplantation
Hair transplantation surgery is considered to be very safe, "minor outpatient surgery." Hair transplant procedures can take from 4-8 hours and are performed using local anaesthesia on an outpatient basis.
There is typically little discomfort during the surgical procedure and the donor areas, where the grafts have been harvested, are closed with sutures; these are usually removed in 7-14 days. The recipient sites, where the grafts are placed on top, are essentially small, superficial slits in the skin of the scalp. At the conclusion of the procedure the surgeon usually checks the final placement of the grafts, and an assistant then explains the postoperative instructions, which are supplied in written form as well.
There is usually little or no discomfort in the grafted area. Most patients feel some "tightness" in the donor area for 1-2 days and are prescribed a mild analgesic, to help cope with this. Patients may be asked to use moist compresses or sprays, and to sleep in a semi-upright position for 2-3 days following the procedure, to minimise swelling and bruising. Small crusts may form on each graft, these can usually be camouflaged by any existing hair that can be combed over the recipient area. Numbness that may occur in the donor or recipient area usually disappears within 2-8 months following surgery.
Complications are rare. Minor inflammation can occasionally occur around a newly transplanted hair follicle, similar to an infected ingrown hair or pimple, and usually responds to simple warm compresses. The scar that occurs in the donor scalp area, as a result of the removal of donor skin, is usually quite narrow and is easily hidden by the surrounding hair. The graft sites in the recipient frontal area heal with almost no visible scarring and are covered by the transplanted hair. A minority of patients may experience mild swelling in the forehead area for a few days following surgery. It typically appears around the 3rd post-op day and goes away after 3-4 days.
How can we help?
Our philosophy at Crown Clinic, is to provide the best possible solution for female hair loss, whether medical or surgical, that suits your image, in the most professional way. We pride ourselves in maintaining the quality of service at its excellence.
We practice what we preach - at our consultation clinics, you get the best advice from our qualified surgeon in the hair restoration field. You can discuss all your concerns and walk out confidently, with all the knowledge about the latest advances in medical treatment, and latest surgical techniques needed for you to make a sound decision.
Our medical specialist with experience in the treatment of hair loss can:
- Provide you with the latest knowledge you need to understand the hair loss and the treatments available
- Help you in choosing the best treatment to suit your needs
- Offer both medical and surgical treatment
- Answer all your concerns regarding the hair restoration techniques