Hair loss in women can be to any number of reasons. One of the most common is genetic. Female pattern hair loss, or androgenic alopecia. Female pattern baldness (FPB) can start as early as puberty. But this is not common. Some fifty per cent of women can suffer some degree of genetic air loss over the lifetime.
Not all hair loss conditions are permanent like genetic hair loss. Other reasons women can suffer from hair loss include post-pregnancy, stress, diet, hormonal imbalances. Illness and medical procedures, for example, chemotherapy and other anti-cancer treatments. Traction alopecia is a common female hair loss condition along with chemical damage and sometimes even self-induced hair loss.
Hair Loss Patterns in Women
Female pattern loss is generally different from male pattern baldness. With female thinning, it commonly occurs in a diffused pattern. Over the top of the head. Sometimes, but rarely over the entire scalp. The loss can also be isolated to much smaller areas. This is more common. A typical area is a hair parting on the top of the head. The Ludwig classification depicts the average thinning patterns from minor to major thinning.
It is not uncommon for the hairline to remain intact. Maybe slight changes to the shape and some loss of hair density. But not recede as in the case of male pattern baldness. Behind the hair density reduces. Often the hair also becomes miniaturised.
A Hair Transplant Candidate
A hair transplant can be a viable option for a woman. But can hold wider complications than with men. Whether a woman is suitable for a hair transplant will be determined by the pattern of hair loss she suffers from. For example, if the hair loss or thinning enters the donor area. Or the hair in the area shows signs of miniaturisation. Also, areas of low hair density can mean a hair transplant would not be advisable.
As female hair loss can have more complexities it is common for a blood test to be requested. The exact test may alter depending on the Doctor but in general, the test will include a full spectrum blood count. This can help to diagnose any systemic deficiencies that may cause thinning hair. Medical conditions such as hormonal changes can be checked. Thyroid and an iron deficiency.
Irregularities in the functioning of the thyroid gland can contribute to hair loss. , this can sometimes be treated by dealing with the source of the problem, regulating the thyroid and as a side effect the hair loss can stabilise and sometimes improve. Changes in hormone levels is a common reason for hair loss in woman, for example during pregnancy it is common for a woman‟s hair to become thicker and fuller, more body and strength, then post-pregnancy as the levels fall a sudden shed of the hair can occur.
Three other hair loss conditions that may prohibit a hair transplant being an option are:
Alopecia areata is a form of hair loss that shows itself in small isolated patches of hair loss. The said patches can overlap to form a larger area, The exact cause is not known, it is thought to be an auto-immune condition. This condition prohibits a hair transplant from being performed. As no safe donor area can be recognised. Hair loss can occur on any area of the scalp and even body.
A common form of hair loss and thinning in a woman is traction alopecia. Excessive tension on the hair shaft from the exit point on the scalp. Such as tight braids or a ponytail. The hair becomes weaker and finer and eventually can stop growing. If the hair in the donor area has been weakened this can affect the quality of a hair transplant result. As a reuslt, a hair transplant is not recommended. Another condition, loosely related to traction is trichotillomania. The systematic pulling out of the hair. Sometimes even without consciously realising.
The doctor will measure the suitability of the individual as a potential hair transplant candidate. Quantifying aspects such as:
Donor hair density
Donor surface area measurement (FUE and FUT)
Calculation of any hair miniaturisation
Scalp Laxity (FUT)
Hairline & Temple Point design
Hair transplant hairline planning
The hairline recreation is one of the most important aspects to the hair transplant procedure. The hairline frame the face. Gives perspective and proportion to the facial bone structure. A natural hairline will not draw any attention. Simply enhance the youthfulness and beauty of the face.
The ideal hairline will follow the natural line of the old or thin existing hairline. This will follow the natural facial bone structure. The hairline is not symmetrical. Although it may seem to be symmetrical there are slight variations from one side to the other. A deadly symmetrical hairline will not appear natural but actually, look man-made and designed. Female hairline designs can vary in design. But in general, they will all differ from a male hairline. With a female hairline, the centre of the forehead is the higher aspect. With the temples rounding down to the temple points. This is basically the opposite of a male hairline.
Hair characteristics can factor the technique to use and the quality of a potential hair transplant result. As a hair transplant gives the illusion of hair fullness. The better the hair characteristics will increase this illusion.
They play an important role in the Doctor planning your hair restoration. Aspects such as determining the hair density the doctor feels they need to place to naturally blend with the surrounding existing hair. Hair characteristics can range from hair colour, calibre or diameter of the hair shaft. Curly or straight hair and the contrast between hair colour and skin complexion.
Ideal hair characteristics include a thick hair shaft, curly or wavy hair, a lax scalp and low contrast between your skin complexion and your hair colour. Natural hair characteristics can be helped. Hairstyling, changing the hair colour, a light perm to add body to the hair. All can add to the overall hair transplant result. Adding the look of a much fuller head of hair than there is in reality.
Follicular Unit Grafting
A hair transplant requires genetically strong hair to work. This hair is known as the donor area or zone. Traditionally it is found around the back and sides of the head. The size of the donor area will depend on the general head size and the pattern of hair loss. But, because the genetically coded hair follicles from the donor area retain their structure they continue to grow even when moved.
The method of harvesting or removing the hair differs depending on the hair transplant techniques used. Both techniques use follicular unit grafting methods. To excise the natural groups of follicular units from the donor area. The natural groups of hairs contain one to four hairs per group.
The number of hairs per hair follicle is important. It will determine if the person is a good or bad hair transplant candidate. If the average number of hairs is low it can result in thin hair coverage.
Follicular unit grafting not only improved the look of natural hair growth in areas of hair loss. Being able to blend the natural hair units with the existing hair. It also improved donor hair management. Greater skills are required to excise the natural hair groups. Techniques improved to minimise the signs of hair extraction.
Hair Transplant Techniques
The FUT technique, Follicular Unit Transplant is the long-established technique used. FUT hair transplant surgery the doctor shaves and then removes a thin hair-bearing strip. This is taken from around the back and sides of the head. The length and width of the strip are determined by a number of factors. The skin laxity in the area. The hair density along the strip area and the number of grafts required. To name three.
Follicular Unit Extraction or “FUE”. Uses a micro-punch instrument to extract each follicular unit. The extraction area is shaved and the follicular units are first punched then extracted individually. The number of punch and extractions directly relates to the number of grafts required, plus a percentage of transected hair follicles.
In some cases, the hair transplant technique is dictated by the hair characteristics. Most female hair transplant patients will opt for the FUT procedure. This is simply because post-operation the healing of the suture line can easily be hidden under the existing hair length. As FUE requires total shaving of the hair around the head it is a less popular option for women.
As with any cosmetic surgical procedure, there are pros and cons. It is important to understand a hair transplant does not cure progressive hair loss. As a result of a further hair transplant may be required in the future. The donor hair resource is limited. Once the hair is removed it does not regrow back in that area. Therefore planning is required to manage the hair you have. Also, a hair transplant and medications can complement each other. One to maintain your existing hair growth and quality and the other to rebuild areas of thinning and hair loss.