Plenty of people assume that hair loss is a problem that only affects men. But the truth is, female hair loss is a fairly common problem. It’s more common among older women, affecting about 60% of women over age 70, compared to just 5% of women under age 30.
No matter how old you are, female hair loss can be particularly trying and even embarrassing. If you’ve noticed that your hair is thinning, your part is wider or that you gather up much less hair when putting your hair into a ponytail, there are a few things you can do to treat your hair loss.
Determine the Cause of Female Hair Loss
Not every woman loses her hair for the same reasons. There are a variety of causes of hair loss in women, some of which are easier to reverse or cope with than others. For example, some women experience a temporary shedding of the hair, known as telogen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium is often caused by stress on the body. It can be triggered by pregnancy, an illness, or extreme weight loss. During this process, more strands of hair than usual move into the telogen, or resting phase. After a few months, these hairs are shed.
The good news is that the hair typically does grow back, especially if the source of stress is gone. The bad news is that the initial shedding of a dramatic amount of hair can be traumatizing and upsetting for many women.
In addition to telogen effluvium, a number of illnesses and medications can lead to hair loss. For example, a thyroid that is either over or under active can cause a woman to shed excessive amounts of hair. Diagnosing the thyroid condition and coming up with a way to effectively treat it can help reverse the hair loss.
Although external factors, such as stress and illness, can cause hair loss in women, one of the most common causes of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia. Also known as male or female pattern baldness, it affects about 30 million women in the U.S. and is the cause of about half of all female hair loss cases.
Female pattern baldness occurs when the body converts testoserone to DHT. DHT interferes with hair follicles, causing them to shrink. Over time, the hair becomes finer and finer, until eventually it stops growing altogether.
When androgenetic alopecia occurs in men, it causes a distinct pattern of baldness, usually a receding hair line and occasionally hair loss from the top of the head. When it occurs in women, the pattern of hair loss is different. The hair thins all over the crown, leading to a wider part or less hair all over the scalp.
Examine Your Female Hair Loss Treatment Options
If you are dealing with hair loss, the good news is that there are a number of treatment options that can help restore the lost hair. You won’t be stuck simply covering up the hair loss with a hat or a wig for the rest of your life.
Hair loss caused by a medical condition, stress or medication is often best treated by treating the condition, removing the cause of stress or changing medications. That’s part of the reason why getting a proper diagnosis of the cause of your hair loss is essential for figuring out the best way to treat it.
In the case of female pattern baldness, there are a few treatment options. The first line of treatment for many patients is often minoxidil, an over-the-counter, topical treatment that helps stimulate hair growth in the areas of thinning or baldness.
Minoxidil has some benefits and disadvantages for women. On the plus side, it’s relatively easy to get, as you can simply purchase it off of the drugstore shelf. Another positive is that it is usually very effective, helping about 80% of the women who use it to regain their hair.
On the down side, the product does take some time to work. Since it helps the hair grow back thicker and fuller, it can take weeks or months before you see an increase in hair growth on your scalp. Another drawback of minoxidil is that you need to keep using it. Once you stop treatment, your hair loss will return.
Hair Restoration Surgery and Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
A facial plastic surgeon who specializes in hair restoration can offer you a number of more permanent treatment options for hair loss. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy is one option.
PRP uses plasma derived from your own blood to stimulate hair growth and minimize areas of balding or thinning hair. PRP has been used for years to help people heal from injuries. More recently, hair restoration surgeons have found that it can help increase hair growth.
Platelets play an important role in helping the body heal. When those platelets are concentrated and injected into an area, they help new blood vessels form. When injected into the scalp, the new blood vessels help hair grow.
Some women decide to pursue hair restoration surgery, either along with or instead of PRP. Hair restoration surgery involves taking hair follicles from one area of the scalp and transplanting them to the areas where hair is thinning. The transplanted hair is there permanently, since the transplanted follicles are not susceptible to the effects of DHT.
The result is a fuller, thicker head of hair that lasts. Any scarring created when the transplanted follicles are harvested can be easily covered up by the rest of the hair on the scalp. Although hair restoration is a type of surgery, initial recovery is fairly quick and many people only take a few days off from work. After the surgery, it takes a few months before the transplanted hair grows in.
In Virginia Beach, Dr. Kyle Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon who offers patients a number of hair restoration treatment options. If you are a woman dealing with thinning hair or baldness and want to learn more about your options, call 757-389-5850 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Choe today.