Hair restoration for women is a popular topic among the female population, since loss of hair is usually a more pressing and embarrassing issue among women than in men. Females are seen as more concerned about their looks and physical appearance than males, and scalp restoration for women is seen as the answer to the humiliating problem of losing one’s ‘crowning glory.’ While advertisements for male hair replacement are everywhere and obviously outnumber those for females, hair fall actually affects as many as two-thirds of all women. Fortunately, hair loss in women usually does not result in complete baldness, as is often the case with men.
Estrogen and Hair Loss in Women
The role of estrogen in human hair growth remains unclear. Physicians prescribe both oral and topical estrogens to restore hair growth in women, although there are no controlled studies to support the use of this hormone.
Researchers who have examined hair loss treatment for the two most common types of hair fall – androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata – have issued a warning to women who use oral contraceptives in restoring hair. Experts said they should choose those with little or no androgenic activity, such as norgestimate or ethynodiol diacetate. They also warn that women with androgenetic aplopecia should not use testosterone or androgen precursors such as DHEA.
Two Common Types of Hair Loss in Women
- Alopecia areata – This is an immune disease that affects almost two percent of the United States population. This type of hair fall appears in various degrees of severity – from small, round patches that heal without medical treatment, to chronic and extensive loss of hair that can involves the disappearance of all hair from the scalp or body.This type equally affects both men and women and can occur at any age, although it affects mostly children and young adults. Hair restoration for women involving this type includes therapies such as glucocorticoids, topical immunotherapy, anthralin, or biologic-response modifiers (e.g. Minoxidil). The extent of baldness and the choice of treatment to restore hair depend on one’s age.Milder cases often see a greater improvement with treatment than severe cases. However, in no case does treatment restore full hair in patients with 100% scalp or body hair loss.
- Androgenetic alopecia – Alopecia in men is popularly known as male-pattern baldness, or baldness that starts at the front of the scalp and recedes backward over time. The hair at the center of the scalp eventually becomes thin and falls out. In contrast, women plagued with this disease experience uniform hair thinning. Women who develop androgenetic alopecia may be suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Hair Restoration for Women: Popular Methods
- Restoration Products
The use of treatment products is a popular method for women. However, only two products, Rogaine and Propecia, have managed to achieve Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the United States. Once a woman starts using these items, she needs to continue doing so for the rest of her life to prevent further hair fall.
- Hormone Treatments
Hormone treatments are an effective option for women, since testosterone (known as the male hormone) causes the problem in the first place. Menopausal or post-menopausal women experiencing the problem could look into hormone treatment as a hair loss restoration method.
- Immune-Based Hair Restoration Techniques
In the case of alopecia, which is traced to a defective immune system, hair restoration for women depends on the treatment of the disorder that caused the immune system to “malfunction.” These kinds of treatments depend on the severity of the alopecia and the age of the patient concerned. In some severe cases, even these techniques may not be as effective as hoped.
- Natural Remedies
There are several natural treatments that women experiencing hair loss could try, although these natural remedies are most effective only in mild cases. Natural remedies are also more effective as preventative measures than as hair restoration treatments. Speaking to a doctor, herbalist or pharmacist may help a woman find a natural hair medication that works for her.
- Surgical Hair Restoration
A more permanent, but more costly, option is surgical hair implantation. This includes hair grafting, flap surgery, scalp expansion and scalp reduction.
Surgical Hair Restoration for Women
Surgical hair restoration is said to be more apt for men than for women. In men, hair donor sites are described as stable sites, which mean that the hair and follicles in those areas are not affected by dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT shrinks follicles elsewhere on the head.
In female pattern baldness, however, these donor areas are usually unstable – affected by follicle-killing DHT. This means removing hair and its accompanying follicles from donor areas in women and transplanting them to other areas would be a futile endeavor. Transplanted hair in women afflicted by female pattern baldness will just fall out.
Another difference between male and female pattern baldness is the frontal hairline. Unlike men, women with some bald patches tend to keep their frontal hairline. They do not have to worry about needing a hair implant to frame their face and are instead more concerned about the loss of volume from the top of the head and back. It must be noted that hair transplants do not do much to increase hair volume. Hair transplantation just moves hair from one place to another.
Good Female Candidates for Hair Transplant
According to experts, only a very small percentage of women are candidates for hair replacement surgery. About two to five percent of women with hair loss will benefit from this type of procedure:
- Women who have suffered non-hormonal hair loss due to mechanical or traction alopecia.
- Women who have had previous cosmetic or plastic surgery and are concerned about hair loss around the incision sites.
- Women who possess a distinct baldness pattern, similar to that of male pattern baldness. The distinct baldness pattern is characterized by hairline recession, vertex thinning (on the crown or top of the scalp), and a donor area that is not affected by androgenetic alopecia.
- Women who suffer hair fall caused by trauma, including burn victims, those scarred by accidents, and those disfigured by chemical burns.
- Women with alopecia marginalis, a condition that looks very similar to traction alopecia.
Hair surgery for women need not be a difficult issue to tackle. There are actually many options to choose from – humiliation and misery brought about by hair loss can now be a thing of the past.