Hair transplants are not just for men. In fact, about 25% of our patients are women and the percentage seems to be rising. It appears that women simply did not know there was a permanent solution to the problem and most thought that hair transplants were for men only. This could not be further from the truth in most cases.
Interestingly, 40% of women 60 years old have significant hair loss. While this is expected in many men, it is much more difficult for women. A lush head of hair is an important sign of beauty for women. However, they can and many do wear wigs, but this has its limitations.
The causes of hair loss in women are as follows:
Hereditary – this is called female pattern baldness. It takes a different pattern than in men. The typical pattern is baldness or thinning on the top and the frontal hairline is not as affected.
Hormonal imbalance – This can be from either too much or too little thyroid hormone. Another rare problem is excess testosterone.
Scarring or Traction Alopecia – this is very common in my practice. In the African American population, I see braiding to such an extent that it damages the hair follicles resulting in permanent hair loss. I discourage this practice or at least the braids should be less tight. The chemicals are often those used to straighten the hair. This is OK, but it must be kept off of the scalp, or permanent alopecia can result.
Conservative options are using either Rogaine topically or Propecia (to be used only in someone who is beyond child bearing age). The latter would be “off-label” for women.
The surgical option is a hair transplant. This is performed under local anesthesia and the recovery is a few days. However, the patient must have a good “donor” area in the back and sides of the scalp. This means the hair must be dense in these areas.
In my hair restoration facility, we use either the NeoGraft or strip method. In women, the latter has the advantage of requiring very little cutting of the hair in the donor area and the patient’s hair covers the donor scar very well. One can expect the hair to start growing in 3 to 4 months following the procedure.
Thick, dense hair is at its maximum at 1 ½ years, although good hair growth can be seen even at 6 to 8 months. My female patients have been thrilled with the procedure and recommend it to other women with thinning hair.