Hair Transplants for Women
Hair Loss in Women
While most people think of men in connection with hair loss, it is actually fairly common in women as well. In fact, about 30% of women experience some degree of thinning during their lifetime. Hair loss is often less noticeable in women, at least in the early stages, because women tend to lose hair more diffusely, or all over, and they often maintain their frontal hairline. Furthermore, women are often able to disguise their hair loss with existing hair. This, and the fact that female hair loss is not socially acceptable, tends to make the condition very isolating.
Fortunately, for women suffering from hair loss, there are solutions that can help. Dr. Kyle S. Choe of the Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery in Virginia Beach, Virginia, has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of hair loss in women. If you are suffering from hair loss, he will work with you to develop a treatment plan to address your individual needs and goals.
Causes of Female Hair Loss
For women, hair loss is typically a very gradual process. The rate of loss may vary seasonally or may be affected by medical conditions, hormonal changes and other factors. It is also common for hair loss to accelerate during pregnancy and menopause. Hair loss in women may be hereditary, which is known as female pattern alopecia, or it may be due to medical conditions. Careful evaluation and diagnosis is essential when it comes to female hair loss as any underlying medical causes should be treated first. This alone often results in reversal of hair loss.
Classification of Hair Loss in Women
Women’s hair loss can be classified into several categories. It is often divided into scarring or non-scarring types, as well as diffuse, localized or patterned. Hereditary, diffuse, non-scarring hair loss is the most common type of hair loss in women and, as a result, it has its own special classification known as the Ludwig Classification. The Ludwig Classification divides female pattern genetic hair loss into three stages based upon the degree of thinning:
- Type I is the mildest and is characterized by early thinning that can be disguised easily with grooming techniques. Surgical hair restoration is typically considered too early at this stage.
- Type II involves moderate hair loss with significant widening at the midline part as well as a noticeable decrease in volume. Hair transplant surgery may be an option at this stage for women with stable hair on the back and sides of the scalp.
- Type III is more advanced, often with generalized thinning. At this stage, the top of the scalp typically has a thin, see-through appearance.
All three Ludwig stages involve hair loss on the front and top of the scalp while the frontal hairline remains relative preserved. Thinning may or may not be present on the back and sides of the scalp; however, hair transplant surgery is only an option for those with stable hair here. Careful evaluation and diagnosis are essential when it comes to hair loss in women, particularly diffuse hair loss. This may be an indication of an underlying medical condition which should be treated.
Diagnosing Female Hair Loss
Diagnosing female pattern hair loss is a fairly straightforward process when certain factors are present, including gradual thinning of the front and/or top of the scalp, preservation of the frontal hairline, miniaturization in the thinning areas, and a family history of hair loss. A hand-held device known as a densitometer is used to identify miniaturization. Miniaturization is caused by hormones and is characterized by a progressive decline in the hair shaft’s diameter and length. Other common diagnostic tests include the hair-pull test and the hair pluck test. The hair-pull test tests for shedding while the hair pluck test tests for damage. Both can be performed in the office setting. More thorough testing involving blood work, biopsy or other laboratory testing may be needed if common causes are ruled out.
Treating Hair Loss in Women
Surgical Hair Restoration
Many women are able to achieve natural hair restoration with advanced surgical hair transplant techniques like follicular unit transplantation (FUT). In women who are appropriate candidates, surgery can dramatically improve the appearance of the hair. To learn more about female hair loss and effective treatments, contact the Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery of Virginia Beach, Virginia, at (757) 389-5850.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What causes hair loss in women?
A: Hair loss may occur in women for a number of reasons. In fact, unlike men who most often lose their hair due to hereditary factors, women may experience hair loss due to many underlying factors such as hormonal imbalance, thyroid conditions, stress, autoimmune disease, anemia, pregnancy, crash dieting and other conditions. In some cases, correcting any underlying causes can reverse hair loss. For women who experience hair loss due to genetics, hair restoration surgery may be an option.
Q: What is Telogen Effluvium?
A: Telogen Effluvium is a common condition that is often confused with genetic female hair loss. It occurs when hair follicles are forced into a resting phase which results in hair shedding several months later. Telogen Effluvium may be caused by certain medical conditions or the use of certain medications and, once correctly diagnosed and underlying causes are treated, hair loss is often reversible
Q: How is hair loss different in women than in men?
A: Women most often experience a diffuse pattern of hair loss in which thinning occurs all over the scalp rather than in a specific area. While most often hereditary, medical conditions and other underlying factors can also result in diffuse hair loss. For men, the vast majority experience genetic male pattern baldness which has a distinct, gradual pattern of loss along the top of the head and hairline.
Q: What happens during a consultation?
A: During consultation, Dr. Choe will examine your hair and scalp and take a thorough medical history. A hair densitometry may also be used to evaluate and measure your hair density and miniaturization. He will also evaluate any underlying medical or genetic causes of the hair loss and give a formal diagnosis. In some cases, additional tests such as a hair pluck or hair pull, scalp biopsy or blood tests may also be needed. A treatment plan can then be recommended after careful evaluation and diagnosis.
Q: Is female hair loss ever associated with medications?
A: Hair loss in women can result from a variety of medications including blood pressure medications, oral contraceptives, cholesterol lowering medications, diet pills and many others. During consultation, a thorough medical history is taken which includes any current medications that are being taken so that Dr. Choe can assess whether or not the hair loss may be drug-related.
Q: Is hair transplant surgery performed on women?
A: Hair transplant surgery is an excellent option for women who are appropriate candidates. This includes women with patterned hair loss in which thinning is localized to the front and/or top of the scalp. Patients must have stable hair on the back and sides of the scalp to serve as donor hair. Dr. Choe will be happy to evaluate your hair loss during consultation to determine whether or not hair transplant surgery or another type of treatment can best address your needs and goals.