Hair loss in Women
Hair Loss – A Girl’s Nightmare
Hair loss is often falsely deemed a mere cosmetic concern. But studies have shown that watching our hair literally wash down the drain, leads to a range of detrimental effects on our psyche – depression, anxiety, lack of self esteem, social withdrawal… just to name a few.
Although we ladies may not be as vocal about our hair loss woes, it is no less devastating than balding in our male counterparts. Women are afflicted with hair shedding, thinning (or God forbid, bald patches!) just as often as men. What’s worse, while balding is still deemed socially acceptable in men, and some even look sexy bald, a lady is seldom considered a beauty unless she has a full head of luscious locks. Which only adds to the stigma of those suffering.
What Are The Signs?
First, we have to understand normal hair growth. Each hair grows for a period of 2-6 years, goes through a short dormant phrase, and then falls out. We lose 100-150 strands of hair per day. Each time a normal hair follicle is shed, it is replaced by hair that is equal in quality. But in female-pattern hair loss, the new hair is finer and thinner, the hair follicles gradually shrink, and eventually quit growing altogether.
Unlike male-pattern hair loss, where the hair recedes upwards from the forehead leaving a M-shaped hairline, hair loss in women is usually more subtle. Early warning signs include excessive shedding during showering or brushing, a smaller ponytail, and a wider parting. This can start at any age. The hair over the top half of the scalp becomes more sparse, gradually and inexorably, and the scalp becoming more and more visible.
What Causes Hair Loss In Women?
Heredity. Termed androgenetic alopecia, this female pattern hair loss runs in the family, and is permanent.
Physical stress. Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss caused by stress to the body and hormonal changes such as pregnancy, anxiety and illness. Hair starts to shed 3-6 months after the stressful event. But rest assured that the hair will regrow after the body recovers.
Diet. Crash diets, lack of iron, vitamin B and protein causes hair growth to shut down. On the other hand, over-dosing Vitamin A supplements can trigger hair loss. These can be easily reversed with a well-balanced diet plentiful in fruits, vegetable, fish, egg, avocado and nuts; occasionally iron and vitamin B supplements are prescribed.
Scalp trauma. Undergoing too many strong treatments like colouring or bleaching, certain hairstyles such as tight pigtails and buns, or scalp infections can also lead to hair loss.
Systemic conditions. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune-related hair loss, occurring when the body gets “confused” and the immune system sees the hair as foreign and targets it by mistake. Steroid injections are required for this form of hair loss. Hormonal imbalance is another culprit – commonly low thyroid levels or menopause. Drugs like chemotherapy can also cause hair loss.
Can Hereditary Hair Loss Be Treated?
Yes, indeed. Hair loss remedies have been advancing dramatically.
Minoxidil is the only FDA approved topical medication. When applied on the affected area of scalp, it increases blood supply and nutrients to hair follicles, hence slowing down or even stopping hair loss.
Hair transplant is a procedure where healthy hair and follicles are transplanted into the balding area. This is the only treatment that can restore hair that was lost. Current hair transplant techniques can produce lifelong results, so natural that even hair stylists cannot tell! But do consult an experienced doctor as not everyone is suitable for hair transplant.
Daily scalp care is also important. Simple techniques like shampooing, scalp massage and light-based energy treatments improve circulation to the follicles. Fill your diet with hair-healthy foods rich in protein, iron and vitamin B.
Seek a doctor’s opinion first to properly diagnose and treat the underlying cause of hair loss.
Am I Suitable For Hair Transplant?
For women, only certain types of hair loss will benefit from hair transplant surgery. Women tend to have a larger area of thinning, which limits the number of donor follicles. But even with a limited donor supply, an experienced transplant surgeon can increase the density of strategically chosen recipient areas to achieve an illusion of fullness.
How Can Hair Transplant Improve My Looks?
Besides the obvious hair restoration in balding areas, most people do not realize that hair transplant can be performed to improve one’s facial shape. Some people are born with a naturally high frontal hairline. This makes the forehead appear large and prominent, or seemingly older as if they had a receding hairline. Medication will not improve this cosmetically as there is naturally no hair follicles in the forehead. Hair transplant is the only permanent solution to lower the hairline and give the appearance of a more petite forehead.
Hair transplant surgery today is a relatively painless procedure performed under local anaesthesia. The results are far superior to what they were just a few years ago. But to design a new hairline requires creativity and artistic skill. Facial features, face shape and other characteristics have to be taken into consideration. The consultation should be a mutual sharing of the doctor’s clinical judgement and experience, as well as your honest needs and expectations.