Hair Transplant For Women
Due to the latest innovations in FUE surgical technology a hair transplant for women is becoming more obtainable within the UK and is developing in to a popular hair restoration procedure. Hair transplants have been available for men for a considerable amount of time, even though at the beginning plastic surgeons; dermatologists, and Trichologists would all agree that they could look as conspicuous as a newly seeded lawn, which went a long way to putting many people off the idea. More recently techniques have vastly improved, so now instead of using the old method of ‘cookie’ type cut outs from the back and sides of a man’s head to place in balding areas, now tiny groups of hairs, between 1-4, known as follicular units are extracted (fue), to place in donor sites. Optimal results are achieved by the most competent surgeons by imitating the direction and the angle of surrounding hair shafts.
Actors with celebrity hair and high profile names and status on T.V. or movies, with their improved appearance and lush head of hair have helped to endorse FUE transplants for both men and women. This in turn has lead to an upsurge in the number of people considering it as a solution for hair loss in women.
In 2008 for example, the Society of Plastic Surgeons state there were nearly 5,000 women who received a hair transplant, which was a twenty one percent increase since the year 2000. It is now recognised as a helpful procedure for some women. The latter statement is very important, however, because it is not appropriate for all women. The way in which a woman loses her hair is not always similar to how a man will lose his when suffering from male pattern baldness, and this factor is very significant when considering hair transplantation.
Following on from the last point, in male pattern baldness for instance, hair around the sides and the back of the scalp remains thick, healthy and viable as an ear-to-ear donor strip of hair. In female pattern baldness, this can also be the true, in which case, they will be a good candidate for a hair transplant. Many women however, will suffer with generalised thinning of the hair all over the scalp which then makes them a poor candidate for hair transplantation. Transplant specialists stress that donor hair is only as permanent as it would have been in the area it was taken from, so if it was taken from an area of thinning hair it would not lead to a very stable hair transplant being performed.
Indeed, in the worst scenario it can even lead to shedding of more hair than before the surgery, creating even thinner hair. To explain this point in more detail, a good surgeon will not just give a transplant to anyone who walks in the door of their clinic. Each individual’s condition must be properly assessed and the appropriate hair loss treatment prescribed.
In the UK alone sixty four percent of G.P.s’ have seen an increase in the number of women attending their practice with alopecia in the past five years. It is estimated that there are six million women suffering from this condition in this country, and if this were to be viewed from a global perspective the figure would be enormous.
Over the page is a list of reasons UK general practitioners have cited as probable causes for the increase in hair loss in women in particular:
Chart to Show Reasons for Women Attending G.P. Practices with Alopecia
In all of the above mentioned circumstances assessment is a crucial step because a hair transplant may not be appropriate, as there will be a certain degree of temporary hair loss. In circumstances where additional help is required to regrow hair there are more appropriate therapies and treatments, some of which we will discuss in this article.
Surgeons in the USA have said that the major problem they encounter with women seeking hair transplant surgery is the difference between the woman’s expectations to look exactly how she did before the alopecia, with the actual achievable results, which leads to the woman feeling disappointed.
On the positive side for hair transplant most clinics in the UK claim between 92 to 95 percent of the grafts in a typical surgical procedure will take hold, and once established should be permanent. A repeat procedure may be necessary however, if the hairline regresses, for example, some high profile celebrities and actors, have received up to four procedures to date.
The NHS do advise non-surgical therapies and treatments over surgical procedure where at all possible, and where initial assessment points to it being more applicable to individual clients. Additional to the obvious reasons for deterring a woman from going ahead with a hair transplant, there are more subtle ones which the woman might not have considered, listed below:
Associated Issues with Hair Transplant Surgery
Before leaving the subject of hair transplantation to discuss alternative treatments, a good note of caution from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons quoted in the New York Times, stresses that this type of surgery is labour intensive because it is painstaking work to get to the tiny follicular unit stage, creating literally thousands of these units from a strip of hair. If, therefore, the surgeon does not sport a substantial team to do this, and they recommend approximately five people working on the grafts, then they warn you may not be visiting one of the most reputable surgeons around. Time is an important dimension of this type of surgery because the units dry out and then will not take well as a graft.
The Use of Low Level Laser Therapy for the Treatment of some forms of Alopecia:
As the sub-title of this subject suggests, similarly to hair transplant, there are some instances in which this therapy is not recommended, because to date, there has not been enough substantial research to suggest it is of benefit for certain conditions. One of the conditions with few recorded positive effects is the immunological disease Alopecia Areata (in the same category, Alopecia Totalis and Universalis).
On a very positive note, however, there are numerous conditions for which it is proving to have therapeutic value in terms of hair regrowth, some of these are listed over the page:
Chart to Show Conditions benefiting from LLLT
With reference to the above chart, the spectrum of conditions/circumstances leading to temporary hair loss (Telogen Affluvium) should ideally be treated first, allowing for a time gap between diagnosis; commencement of any treatments required, and chemical/biological corrections to occur (usually monitored by blood tests etc), to allow for unaided natural hair regrowth. If, after this period, natural hair regrowth is still not good, then LLLT can be useful, either on it’s own or as a combination therapy with topical and/or oral products as a means of boosting and strengthening new growth of hair in damaged or dormant follicles. Examples of conditions in which these stages should occur are: Metabolic disorders of the thyroid; vitamin and mineral deficiencies; and hormonal disturbances.
Research from the USA suggests that LLLT laser hair treatment has some good outcome results in female pattern baldness, and may prove particularly useful for those women who are not a good candidate for hair transplant because of the pattern of their hair loss.
It does this by means of several actions:
- Having an anti-inflammatory effect on hair follicles (explained below)
- Improving blood circulation to scalp supplying oxygen and nutrition to the follicular cells (explained below)
- Normalises production of scalp sebum which acts as a harbour for DHT that in turn is able to shrink the hair follicle
- Reverses follicular cell apoptosis (programmed cell death), helping to repair hair follicles
The Inflammatory Response:
Post operatively, when tissue integrity has been damaged, then an initial inflammatory response is one that is essential to aid in the proliferation of immune cells to the damaged area to begin the healing process. This is seen in the first stage of wound healing for instance (there are 3 main stages), but this should only last approximately two days. If inflammation is prolonged for too long, as is seen with some wounds post operatively, or in the instance of some autoimmune scalp conditions such as psoriasis; eczema; seborrhoeic dermatitis; neuro dermatitis, and some other autoimmune conditions affecting the scalp then it has a negative affect on healing, including any damage sustained to the hair follicles. In this instance, LLLT is proving to be therapeutically effective in two major ways, leading to faster healing times and/or improved patency of grafts:
- It improves microcirculation and re-vascularisation (regrowth of microcirculation)
- It reduces inflammatory lymphocytic infiltrate (white blood cells associated with immune response)
A more detailed explanation of how LLLT works to achieve these results, and related research carried out can be gained from the article defining Alopecia Treatment.
Finally, it may or may not be a little premature in terms of the limited research carried out, but LLLT is now being used in the USA in some circumstances to improve the general quality of what we would term fairly healthy hair, to improve and strengthen natural hair growth.
It is sometimes difficult to make the initial decision as to how to stop hair loss and identify what are the possible appropriate treatments available for women in general, suffering with various types of alopecia. It is important to say that an assessment from a professional in the field of surgery; dermatology; trichology, or general practice, is a crucial one, but we as a company have designed a flow chart to aid in the initial decision making process when considering a hair transplant for women:
If there is a good possibility that hair will grow back of it’s own accord, then there are the interim solutions of wearing wigs; hats, scarves or other head attire until you are confident enough to go without.
If it is your decision to go for a topical and/or oral preparation, there are numerous ones to chose from, but to help in your choice we have detailed a list of prescribed medications available, and given a brief overview of some very successful natural remedies for you to choose from in the linked article mentioned earlier on in the text.
If you are struggling to choose between hairpieces for women, a hair replacement system, or FUE transplant surgery, then may wish to consider the hair transplant cost. This article will assist you with the decision process.
Finally, because sometimes it is necessary to be patient, and wait for hair regrowth to occur, if alopecia is due to temporary hair loss, the last section in this article gives a few suggestions on how to disguise thin or fine hair, detailed over the page:
It was suggested in the health and beauty column of the New York Times that the key to disguising and camouflaging thinning hair is in securing a skilled stylist. Up to fifteen percent of women who visit hair salons worry about hair thinning.
The following tips are suggested to make thin hair look fuller:
To conclude this article, as a woman who is losing her hair, or is experiencing generalised thinning of the hair it is worth initially investigating the cause of the hair loss so that the appropriate treatment regime can be customised to the particular hair loss. Hair transplant is not always advisable, but there are certain circumstances in which it can be very successful, and of course a permanent solution to hair loss. Having said this, hair regrowth using alternative treatments and therapies can be very successful if you as a client are willing to persevere and stick to the prescribed treatment plan. Research indicates that many people do not have good results because they do not stick to the treatment plans for long enough to see a significant effect. It is advised for instance that a combination treatment plan of hair laser regrowth therapy, and oral/topical hair regrowth products, will only begin to show results after 4-6 months, and to get substantial improvements the treatment plan should from there on in be sustained.
The chart designed by ourselves in this article is intended to act as an initial guide as to possible decisions and choices you could make according to the type of hair loss, but it is not meant to limit choice in any way, or as the only or ultimate way in which to tackle hair loss. It must be stressed that there are numerous specialists, for instance, those mentioned in our chart, that are there to be consulted and to give appropriate advice. The hair loss may be due to a number of complex reasons, and is not always as straight forward as it seems, therefore, they can give informed advice based on your medical history, and are in a position to do tests, such as blood tests, take skin biopsies etc., to help assist with your decision making. In other words these specialists are there to be utilised, and any woman experiencing the distress that hair loss can cause should not feel alone. In today’s society where so much emphasis is placed on the way we look it can knock self confidence and affect a person’s whole lifestyle. So take that initial step to gain your self confidence back. For information, products and services relating to Hair Transplant Birmingham please refer to our other informative research articles.
above: Suzanne Z Clark, RGN/Dip/BSc