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Female Hair Loss

Female Hair Loss

The causes and types of female hair loss, and how to treat female balding with female hair transplant.

Hair loss is a condition that greatly affects self esteem. Balding men are often the subject of a harmless joke or mocking comment, but for women the problem can have a much greater emotional effect and drastic impact on social life.

Balding is a condition typically associated with men, but women make up a surprisingly large number of these cases – up to 40% in America according to the American Hair Loss Association.

Unfortunately diagnosing female hair loss isn’t as straight forward as it for men. Almost 90 % of all male balding cases are a result of hereditary male pattern baldness. For women however, it can be triggered by a number of different circumstances.

female hair loss Female Hair Loss

Female Hair Loss

Some temporary cases of female hair loss are easily fixed because they can be identified and treated. Some instances however are not the same and often lead frustrating situation when hair loss remedies cannot cure the problem.

Often the biggest hurdles when treating female balding is diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been determined, some types of female hair loss can be reversed within a matter of weeks.

One of the most common types of female balding, female-pattern alopecia, doesn’t manifest as it does in men – in large obvious patches of balding – instead it often causes random or widespread thinning of the hair, and can be much harder to detect.

Types and Causes of Female Hair Loss

  • Female Pattern Hair Loss – Androgenetic Alopecia
    This hereditary-type of hair loss is the one of the most common form of female balding and can start any time after puberty. Almost 50% of all women will suffer from a form of androgenetic alopecia at some point in their lives; although it occurs most often in women above the age of 40. Androgenetic Alopecia is the result of an inherited sensitivity to the effects of androgens (male hormones) on scalp hair follicles.
  • Telogen Effluvium – Physiologic Shedding
    Another common form of female balding, telogen effluvium, typically relates to underlying physical or mental factors as opposed to genetics. Circumstances such as pregnancy, illness and surgery have all been shown to inhibit the growth of hair follicles. Telogen effluvium can also be caused by hormonal shifts, anemia or a thyroid imbalance.

    Telogen often thins hair around the scalp, but it can also occur elsewhere on the body. The condition generally begins suddenly and tends to get better on its own within six months. It can however, become a chronic condition for some people.

  • Triangular Alopecia
    Triangular alopecia refers to the loss of hair around the temporal areas. This form of alopecia can begin during childhood and may result in the complete loss of, or thinning of the hair. The cause of triangular alopecia is still not known but it can be treated medically or surgically once diagnosed.
  • Scarring Alopecia – Traction Alopecia
    This condition occurs as a result of scarring of the scalp. Also known as traction alopecia, it is common in African American women who wear braids or corn-rows for many years. It can also occur in post-menopausal women associated with inflammation of hair follicles and subsequent scarring, or due to infections, scalp disorders, chemical treatments and inflammation.
  • Alopecia Areata – Allergic Alopecia
    This condition occurs due to an allergic reaction or an autoimmune disorder. It can cause patchy bald spots and/or thinning of the hair. Medical examination is necessary to establish a diagnosis.
  • Trichotillomania
    Compulsive hair pulling, or trichotillomania, is a condition that typically causes patchy bald spots due to the nature of the patients pulling habits. This condition can only be treated psychologically.

Once a diagnosis is reached, doctors can often treat female balding with certain medications, but this isn’t the case for some women, for whom hair loss can become a life long struggle.

Female Hair Loss Treatments

Many experts like Spencer Kobren, founder of the American Hair Loss Association and nationally syndicated radio talk show host of “The Bald Truth”, say that 99% of miracle hair loss treatments advertized in magazine do not work.

Some pharmaceutical medications have been found to provide hair regeneration benefits, but these are not always long-term and many doctors are reluctant to prescribe them. Hair rejuvenation medications are most commonly available as topical creams; however some birth control pills have also been shown to promote hair growth.

If you’re doctor cannot provide an effective treatment, it’s likely that your only option is a female hair transplant, or medical hair rejuvenation. Hair replacement surgeries include varying hair transplant techniques, and laser therapy.

Female Hair Transplant

There are a number of techniques used in hair replacement surgery, these include:

  • Punch grafts
  • Mini-grafts
  • Micro-grafts
  • Slit grafts
  • Strip grafts
  • Flap surgery
  • Tissue-expansion
  • Scalp-reduction

Best Candidates for Female Hair Transplant Surgery

Unfortunately, not everyone that suffers from hair loss will be a perfect candidate for a hair transplant. However it can be the perfect solution for women for whom previous hair loss treatments have not worked.
Hair transplants can be performed on women of any age; as long as they have healthy hair growth at the back and sides of the head to serve as donor areas from which grafts and flaps will be taken.

Other factors, such as color, texture and the curliness of your hair may also affect the cosmetic result. For example those with coarse, wavy hair can expect slightly better results than those with thin straight hair. The quality of the donor hair also greatly contributes to the overall outcome of the procedure.

Women often have higher expectations of hair transplant surgeries than men, so it’s important to known the limits and expect a reasonable outcome to avoid dissatisfaction.

Preparing for Hair Transplant Surgery

Before undergoing a hair transplant or scalp reduction you will first be require to under a medical examination. During the consultation your doctor will check your current medical condition and your medical history. They will also assess your scalp to determine what type of surgery is best for you.

Hair Transplant Surgery Overview

Hair replacement surgery, no matter what technique is used, is usually performed in an outpatient ward using a local anesthesia along with sedation to make you relaxed and comfortable.

Micro/Punch Grafts

Your scalp will be insensitive to pain, but you may be aware of some tugging or pressure. First the donor areas on the back and sides of the head will be evaluated.

A small section of tissue is removed from the donor area and is then dissected under magnification into individual hair follicular units and micro-grafts. These grafts are then strategically placed into bald or thinning areas.

The surgeon placed the single-hair follicular units at precise but varied angles in the frontal hair zone to create a soft, natural looking hairline.

More follicular units and micro-grafts are placed behind the hairline, providing density and volume to cover the larger balding areas. Placement of our grafts is designed to resemble naturally growing hair.

Flap Surgery and Scalp Reduction

These procedures are mainly used on patients seeking a more dramatic change. Flap surgery is capable of quickly covering large areas of baldness; one flap can do the work of 350 punch grafts.

Scalp reduction works in a similar way and is sometimes referred to as advancement flap surgery. However scalp reduction is only beneficial for balding at the top and back of the head.

During your evaluation the surgeon will assess which areas of the scalp will be used in the procedure. A section of bald scalp is then cut out and a flap of hair-bearing skin is stretched over the surface. The hair-bearing flap is brought into its new position and sewn into place, while remaining “tethered” to its original blood supply.

This technique can leave some visible scarring but as you heal the scar will become obscured by the relocated hair.

Hair Transplant Surgery Results

Naturally our hair grows slow, so don’t be disheartened when you don’t see immediate results. Hair will begin to grow within 3 months and will grow at the same rate as your natural hair. Results are usually complete in 8 to 12 months. And because the hair follicle keeps its original genetic coding, it behaves like the hair from the donor areas and will keep grow your whole lifetime.

How much hair is restored depends on the patient’s degree of hair loss and their desired result. Some needs are met in one hair transplant procedure; the goals of some others may be best achieved over multiple hair transplant surgeries.

To insure the best result, patients might be asked to perform some minor post-operative care. For the first week after the hair transplant you may need to adapt new cleansing routines, limit physical activity and the use of anti-swelling medication.

Female Hair Transplant Surgery Recovery

A hair transplant procedure is completed within two to six hours. Scabs will forms on the exterior of the scalp; these usually fall off after a week. The hair shaft may also shed, but the hair follicle remains and often goes into a resting phase.

With advanced micro-surgical techniques most patients will not a bandage, however if a bandage is required it should be removed the following day.

Patients will be able to return to their daily activities within 24 hours. Some patients have even returned to work the same day.

Possible Risks of Female Hair Transplant Surgery

Surgical techniques for restoring hair have improved greatly in the past couple of decades however as with all surgical procedures there are risks involved.

In transplant procedures there is a chance the grafts won’t take. It is normal to lose some hair before the plugs fully establish regrowth in their new location, however if the skin plug dies, then surgery may need to be repeated.

Female Hair Transplant Surgery


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  1. Female Hair Loss & Pattern Baldness in Women. International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, 2011.
  2. Deborah Dunham: Women’s Hair Loss: Top Reasons Your Hair is Falling Out. Stylelist, 08/16/2010.
  3. Womens Hair Loss. American Hair Loss Association, 2011.
  4. Female Hair Transplant: Ezine Articles, 2011.

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