It’s normal for people to associate men with hair loss. It’s so common and it seems so – natural.
But did you know that about 50 percent of all women will experience some degree of hair loss at some point in their lives? Female pattern hair loss is more common than we think. It’s also a condition that is just as devastating to a woman’s self-esteem as it is to a man’s.
With men, hair loss is often associated with more than just age or family genes. It is often associated with a loss of virility and sex appeal. For women, losing their hair cuts to the heart of the feminine ideal.
While there isn’t a lot we can do about thinning hair associated with genetic influences, there are steps women can take to mitigate or slow down hair loss, before it’s really noticeable.
Medical Hair Loss Solutions
Topical solutions containing Minoxidil – Rogaine, for example – come in 2 percent and 5 percent formulas and have been proven to regrow hair with regular daily use. There’s a caveat, however. Once the treatment stops, the hair starts falling out again. The FDA has approved 2 percent Minoxidil for women. And it really does stimulate hair growth. Another topical solution for the treatment of hair loss is finasteride, the active ingredient found in over-the-counter products like Propecia. Propecia is commonly used on men to help retain their hair but unfortunately it cannot be used for women.
Some doctors recommend hair thickening shampoos and conditioners as a way to conceal female pattern hair loss in its very early stages. It’s a fairly inexpensive treatment method but it’s not a long-term solution. Once the pattern hair loss starts it won’t stop until it plays out to the very end. Many women may experience significant hair loss on the upper third region of the scalp before they are in their 60s.
The Future of Hair Loss Treatments
Though currently in an experimental stage, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and “hair cloning” techniques have shown promise in the battle against hair loss in men and women. PRP is a special process where the patient’s own blood is drawn and growth factors are separated out and then injected directly into the scalp. Research suggests PRP stimulates hair growth. Hair cloning is another experimental process that involves the replication of healthy hair follicles and grafting them into sparse areas of the scalp. Doctors also have been experimenting with stem cells to regenerate inactive hair follicles.
Not all cases of female pattern hair loss are genetically based, however. Many women begin losing hair following a pregnancy or due to a medical condition or thyroid disorder. Doctors may recommend hormone therapy to help restore balance to the endocrine system.
The Tried-and-True Hair Loss Solution
Perhaps the only sure-fire method for restoring hair in both women and men is hair restoration surgery. This is when the patient’s own donor hair follicles are harvested from one area of the body and transplanted into the scalp. While some 90% of balding men are good candidates for hair transplant surgery, the numbers are generally much lower in women. This is because men tend to follow a pattern of hair loss that is restricted to the hairline and crown, leaving the sides and back for use as donor hair. Women, on the other hand, tend to lose hair more diffusely.
Only a qualified hair restoration specialist can determine if a woman is a good candidate for transplant surgery or less invasive options. It’s your call. And it’s worth the call.
Dr. Kyle S. Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist with offices located in Virginia. Contact The Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery at (757) 389-5850 for a personal consultation. Dr. Choe has extensive experience in treating female hair loss and will work with you to develop a successful treatment plan.