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Traction Alopecia


If you’re like most people, you go to great lengths to make your hair more attractive. We pull on it. Stretch it. Tie it sideways and backwards. Then, we braid it. Bleach it. Color it, and curl it, and fry it with hot air. In short, it’s hair follicle abuse.

Never forget the thousands of healthy hair follicles we were blessed with by nature. They just aren’t meant to be subjected to these kinds of artificial stresses. Something has to give – and it’s our hair follicles.

Traction alopecia is the technical term for hair loss caused by a prolonged tugging force against the hairline or other area of the scalp. When a long-haired man decides one day to pull his gorgeous ginger locks back and tie them into a pony tail, for example, there is now a constant yanking effect across the hairline and scalp.  Over time the man’s hair follicles are damaged and his hair slowly falls out, causing the hairline to recede.

Walt Disney’s “Pippy Longstocking” looked cute in pigtails, didn’t she? But Pippy’s bi-directional middle-hair part is looking a whole lot wider these days.

Consider the thousands of men sporting hair weaves to hide a bald spot. They are at high risk of traction alopecia. That’s because the hairpiece has to be tightly woven into the surrounding hair and then readjusted as the hair grows out. Years down the road that small bald spot is now double its size.

Likewise, hair extensions for women look great and aren’t that easy to notice. Problem is they add weight and pull at the existing hair strands, eventually damaging the hair follicles after years of hair-extension tension.

Men and women flaunting tightly woven hair braids or dreadlocks are among the prime candidates for traction alopecia, as are motorcycle riders, bicyclists, skiers, and skateboard “shredders,” who wear compressive safety helmets so they won’t break their skull. But the constant rubbing and pulling on the hair and scalp by these snug fitting helmets is causing long-term harm to hair follicles. Someday, these hairy action buffs will be wearing a helmet to cover the balding zone it created.

For men and women obsessed with overstyling their hair with chemicals, shampoos, conditioners, and blow driers – stop it! You’re stressing out your hair follicles. And that’s not good for you. Fortunately, there are options available for treating traction alopecia and restoring lost hair.

Dr. Kyle S. Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist located in Virginia Beach. He can be reached at The Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery at (757) 389-5850 for a personal consultation.

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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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