As if women didn’t have their hands full with wrinkles and those extra calories that show up in unflattering areas, women face the added hurdle of hair loss. Most women, yes, most, can expect to shed a few strands. Sixty per cent of women over 70 report hair loss, although slower and not as severe as in men.
Of course, there are exceptions. Up to five per cent of women under 30 experience hair loss, and while it’s often genetic, women lose hair from a complex interplay of hormones that targets volume rather than a predictable pattern. As such, hair loss treatment for women can be challenging, to say the least.
Unfortunately, hair transplant surgery is rarely an effective hair loss treatment for women. Unlike men, who often lose their hairline and coverage at the crown of the scalp, women tend to experience diffuse thinning, spread around the scalp and including the sides and back of the head.
In hair restoration, these areas are called donor sites, from which a surgeon transplants hair grafts for implantation on the balding, or recipient area. Hair restoration works because the hair follicles at the donor sites in men are not prone to hair loss from androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness.
However, in women, these sites are usually unstable. If a surgeon was to transplant hair from a donor site in a women suffering hair loss from genetic (hormonal) reasons, the transplanted hair would simply fall out, and any doctor attempting to do so is, frankly, unethical and looking to profit from the patient’s misfortune.
Consider also that hair restoration surgery doesn’t add new hair, rather it simply relocates hair to areas where coverage is sparse. In men that’s usually the hair line and crown of the scalp. Hair loss in women is more of a loss of volume that, unfortunately, hair restoration doesn’t provide in abundance.
That said, there are rare exceptions, in which hair transplants will work for women. These are:
At the present time, Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, is the only topical medical hair loss treatment for women approved by the FDA. Minoxidil is available in 2% and 5% solutions and can be purchased as an over the counter treatment. Minoxidil prolongs the growth stage of hair and can preserve what remains on the scalp, but takes two to five months to produce results and must be taken twice daily.
Finasteride, or Propecia, might also work, but is harmful to the male fetus and therefore not recommended for women looking to get pregnant or who are pregnant.
In addition, emerging technologies like the HairMax Laser Comb continue to improve and could treat hair loss for women in the near future. The HairMax Laser Comb resembles a hair brush and increases blood circulation in the scalp which, notably, stimulates hair growth.
Fortunately, while hair loss in women is broad, it is rarely as severe as in men. And it tends to hit later, often after 50, and slower than men experience. That’s good news, because it’s easier to hide or blend into one’s hairstyle, and in the senior years, it might not sting as much.