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Can a Ponytail Really Lead to Hair Loss?


Tight Ponytails and Hair LossSome causes of hair loss are genetic, and completely beyond your control. Other causes have to do with an overarching health issue. And some causes of hair loss are almost completely within your control. Traction alopecia is one example of hairloss that occurs because of an external force or because of a behavior.

If you’ve ever wondered if your hairstyle could have an effect on your hair, the answer is yes. Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss that occurs when pressure or force is placed on the hair follicle. Changing your hairstyle can reduce the risk of traction alopecia and allow you to keep your hair.

What Types of Style Can Lead to Traction Alopecia?

The most common cause of traction alopecia is a tight hairstyle. When hair is worn in a tight style for a long period of time, there’s a considerable amount of strain or tension placed on the hair and the follicle. The tension can be enough to pull the hair right out of the follicle. Traction alopecia shouldn’t be confused with hair breakage, which can also occur when a person wears a tight hairstyle for a long period of time. Hair breakage occurs when a strand of hair snaps or breaks at a location that isn’t the follicle.

Styles that can cause traction alopecia range from complex hair braiding and cornrows to more simple styles such as pulling the hair back into a tight ponytail. Adding extensions or a weave to the hair can also lead to traction alopecia, as the extensions put extra force on the existing hair.

Some signs that your hairstyle might be negatively affecting your hair include pain in the scalp area when you wear your hair in a certain style, an itchy scalp when your hair is in braids or another style, and a feeling of relief when you let your hair down. Over time, you’ll also notice that your hair is thinner in some areas or that you have developed areas of baldness where the tension on the hair is greatest.

Are There Other Causes?

While a person’s hairstyle can often cause traction alopecia, style isn’t the only cause of this form of hair loss. Trichotillomania, an impulse disorder that causes a person to tug or pull at his or her hair, can also lead to traction alopecia. In cases where the hair loss is caused by the impulse to pull or pick at the hair, working a therapist to learn to manage the desire or need to tug at the hair is the first step to reversing the hair loss.

Is it Reversible?

Whether or not traction alopecia can be reversed depends on a few factors. Usually, the sooner you notice the hair loss and link it to your  hairstyle or a condition such as trichotillomania, and take steps to change your style or to stop pulling on your hair, the more likely it will be that your hair will be able to grow back on its own, without any extra help.

But, if you’ve been wearing your hair in a tight style for years or have been pulling at it for years or otherwise causing stress and trauma to the hair follicles, the hair loss might be permanent and won’t grow back without extra help.

What Can You Do About It?

If you’ve taken action about your traction alopecia, such as changing your style or working with a therapist to manage your trichotillomania, but your hair isn’t growing back, a hair transplant might be the most appropriate choice for you. Just as a hair transplant for male or female pattern baldness takes hair from an area of the scalp that hasn’t been affected by hair loss, a transplant to restore hair lost due to traction alopecia will take hair from an area of the scalp that hasn’t been affected and move it to an area that has suffered hair loss. The results from a hair transplant are permanent, but you do want to avoid any styles that put stress or pressure on your hair going forward.

Don’t let a tight  hairstyle negatively affect your hair’s growth. If you think you are dealing with traction alopecia, contact Dr. Kyle Choe, a hair restoration specialist in Virginia Beach. Dr. Choe can evaluate your hair and scalp and recommend the best course of action to take, whether it’s simply changing your style or considering a hair transplant to reverse any hair loss. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Choe, call (757) 389-5850 today.

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The Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery offers state of the art cosmetic and reconstructive surgical care in a private, comfortable and safe setting. Our center is an AAAHC Accredited Office Base Surgery Center staffed by board certified anesthesiologists and experienced nurses. Quality and highest standards define medical staffs at the Choe Center.
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