Hair transplantation is an effective treatment method that creates a positive impact on individuals experiencing hair loss; affecting every aspect of their lives. Although the majority of hair transplantation patients are still men, a high percentage of women have also started looking into a hair transplant procedure as a hair loss treatment Hair transplantation is considered as a highly important treatment as the final outcome of this procedure will positively contribute especially to a women’s physical appearance. Apart from the negative impacts on physical appearance, hair loss can also lead to feelings of extreme psychological distress.
This situation affects women much more than men. It has also been observed that women have the tendency to experience serious psychological problems such as; feelings of inadequacy in a social environment, spending a lot of time and effort to conceal the thinning locks and bald patches or having trouble accepting their hair loss condition.
Hair Loss Causes in Women
Female Pattern Hair Loss also known as Androgenetic Alopecia, is the most common cause of hair loss in women.
Other potential causes of hair loss in women are:
- Having a genetic predisposition to hair loss
- Autoimmune diseases
- Change in hormone levels
- Excessive stress
- Crash dieting/rapid weight loss
- Iron Deficiency
We can start our analysis by reviewing the most common medical hair loss condition; Androgenetic Alopecia.
The follicular changes that cause androgenetic alopecia, are similar between male and female pattern hair loss; Progressive shrinking of terminal (thick and dark) hair follicles (hair miniaturization), terminal to vellus transformation (conversion of the thick and dark terminal hairs into very thin and white hairs called vellus), shortening of the hair growth cycle and eventually, the shedding process. Even though male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss share some similar characteristics, they are actually quite different in many respects. Hair loss in men generally is characterized by a receding hairline (frontal area), affecting the temples (temporal area) and the crown region (vertex area). Women, on the other hand, generally lose their hair diffusely over the crown of the head. It is very rare for women to experience complete baldness. In male pattern baldness, hair loss causes the hairline to gradually move backwards, creating a receding hairline; whereas a receding hairline in women is very rare and they mostly tend to retain their hairline. Hair loss in women is mostly characterized by a general thinning occuring all over the scalp or localized; affecting only specific regions of the scalp. As it follows a typical pattern, it is much more easier to detect male pattern baldness than female pattern hair loss. In addition, as hair loss in women can be triggered by many conditions, it is much more harder to diagnose when compared to men.
Androgenetic Alopecia in women may occur in 3 distinct hair loss patterns:
- Diffuse (progressive)
- Localized (stable)
- Patterned (male patterned)
1. Diffuse (progressive): This hair loss condition is characterized by diffuse thinning of the crown region that can spread throughout the scalp, with preservation of the frontal hairline.
According to the severity of hair loss, the progression of female pattern baldness can be classified on the Ludwig Scale as, Ludwig I,II,III.
Type I is defined as the earliest stage of hair loss. Thinning of the hair over the crown area is considered to be mild.
At this stage, thinning on the crown area has increased and this, is accompanied by a noticeable decrease in hair density and widening of the midline part of the scalp. If the patient has healthy hair follicles in the donor area, a hair transplant procedure may be a viable option option at this stage.
At this stage the frontal hairline is still preserved but the crown area now displays extensive hair loss, the part line has significantly widened and the hair has become so thin that it impossible to conceal the scalp. If the patient has adequate donor reserves, at this stage the only solution is to undergo a hair transplant procedure.
2. Localized (stable): This hair loss type is characterized by the bitemporal recession of the midline part in the center of the scalp without diffuse thinning.
This hair loss type, which has been classified by Olsen, is defined as the “Christmas tree pattern” in female pattern hair loss (Olsen).
3. Patterned (Male Patterned): Patterned hair loss is characterized by the bitemporal recession at the temples, which causes the frontal hairline to move backwards-recede (Hamilton).
This hair loss type follows the same pattern observed in male pattern baldness (forming a M or V-shaped pattern).
Ways to Prevent Hair Loss in Women
Preventing hair loss can be possible through medical treatments and self-care as well as maintaining a healthy diet. Before recommending any treatment plan for women, their hair loss type and the causes must be identified. This, can only be possible with the correct diagnosis made by a specialized doctor. Additionally, determining whether or not the hair loss condition is permanent or temporary and progressive or stable, will also be helpful for choosing the most effective treatment program for the patient.
The primary treatment options recommended to women patients are;
Hair Transplant: Hair transplantation that offers a permanent solution for hair loss, is the process of extracting follicular units from the donor area (taking place at the back of the head) that are genetically resistant to balding and transplanting into areas of hair-loss on the scalp. This procedure, which is carried out with minimal invasive methods, yields successful results in women with permanent hair loss conditions, as long as they have adequate amounts of donor supply. Hair transplantation, stands out as one of the most favored treatments amongst women experiencing localized or male-patterned hair loss conditions.
Minoxidil: Minoxidil topical solution is the only androgen-independent medication that has been approved by the FDA. Minoxidil topical solution applied to the scalp, is used to stimulate hair-growth, which, in turn, helps to slow as well as stop the progression of hair loss. Women are recommended to use 2% minoxidil topical solution.
PRP: PRP therapy is a non-surgical remedial and protective therapeutic option for hair loss treatment. PRP involves centrifuging a patient’s blood sample to separate out the red blood cells from the platelet-rich plasma and then injecting this platelet-rich plasma into the treated areas.
Hair Mesotherapy: Hair Mesotherapy is the process of applying small doses of selected medications into the skin by special needles. It is an alternative treatment that is applied to reduce hair loss and promote hair growth.
Healthy Diet: Eating a diet rich in protein such as red meat, fish, eggs, wholegrains together with, biotin, magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamins A, E, C and B6, which can be found in spinach, bananas and greens, can help your hair fill up with nutrients, which, in turn, will strengthen and protect your hair strands.
Statistics on Women’s Hair Loss
- One in four women suffer from hair loss.This number increases to 2 in 4 women during menopause.
- Approximately 40% of women experiencing hair loss have genetically inherited ‘female pattern hair loss’.
- There are approximately 30 different conditions that triggers hair loss in women, however only a few are actually responsible for the majority of patients.
- More than 10% of pre-menopausal women and more than approximately 50% of women aged over 65 are affected by thinning hair.
- While 84% of the women experiencing hair loss struggle with low self esteem, %34 fight with depression and 94% regard their hair loss condition socially unacceptable in comparison to men.
- Approximately 17.5% of the hair transplant patients across the globe are women.
Another point worth mentioning is that women with female pattern hair loss require a different approach for hair transplantation. Compared to men, hair loss in women generally does not result in a receded hairline. The areas that are mostly affected are the vertex (crown region) and the parietal regions. For this reason, a hair transplant procedure performed on a woman requires a relatively high degree of expertise.
Hair Transplant for Women
Although the basic principles remain the same, when performing hair transplant procedures for women, it is important to take their special cases into account.
The stages of hair transplantion for women are;
Women are not required to shave their heads completely before their hair transplant procedure.
- First, at the back of the head a small window is created to serve as the harvesting surface; with only this area being shaved. As the existing hair will be concealing the small shaved area, nobody will notice that the patient has undergone the procedure.
- After the patient is administered local anesthetics with needle-free and painless jet injectors, the follicular units are then extracted with the aid of a micro motor using thin hollow needles having a diameter of 0.6-0.8 mm.
- Next, the hair follicles are transplanted one by one into the incisions within the recipient site that have been created with precise accuracy, considering the natural direction and angle of hair growth.
- The transplantation process is conducted by the utilization of smooth and sharp Sapphire blades.
If the hair transplant procedure involves placing the grafts within the existing hair strands, then the transplantation process will be carried out with the DHI technique, using a implanter (choi).
As with all hair transplant treatments, hair transplantation for women should be customized and planned according to individual specifications. For this reason, during your consultation session, with the correct planning carried out by a specialized doctor, it is very possible to grow back the hair that you have once lost.