This article is just one in a series of articles that cover hair loss and hair restoration. Click these links to check out the other articles:
- What Are the Top Female Hair Restoration Options?
- Hair Restoration: Understanding Hair Loss and Treatment Options - Part 1
- Hair Restoration: Understanding Hair Loss and Treatment Options - Part 2
- Surgical Hair Restoration Options for Men
- Understanding Hair Loss and Causes for Hair Loss in Women
- Hair Loss: Thinning Hair in Men and Its Causes
- Understanding Men’s Hair Restoration Options
Hair Loss in Women
Though many people consider hair loss to be a men’s issue, as many as 25% of women under the age of 50 have thinning hair or some degree of hair loss. Over the age of 50, that number jumps to 50% and as many as 40% of women experience hair thinning during menopause. If you suffer from hair loss, know that you are not alone and that you have several hair restoration options to consider.
When it comes to hair loss and treatment, there are many different therapies to consider. In cases of severe hair loss, particularly androgenetic hair loss, surgical restoration options are some of the most common. Keep reading to learn more about these options to see if it might be the right choice for you.
Things to Consider Before Natural Hair Replacement
According to the American Hair Loss Association, hair transplantation is a viable option for as many as 90% of the balding men in the country. Unfortunately, only 2% to 5% of balding women are likely to benefit from this treatment. Why is this the case? It all has to do with the type of hair loss you are suffering from. Androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, is the most common form of hair loss in men and women. In women, it is referred to as female pattern baldness and it affects women different. In men, this condition produces an M-shaped recession of the hairline while, in women, it causes diffuse thinning of hair over the scalp or a widening of the part. It doesn’t usually produce large, round bald patches in women.
Because androgenetic alopecia affects women in a different way than men, the treatment options that work best for men don’t always work well for women – this is the case with natural hair replacement surgeries. The surgery works in men because the hair loss is limited to that one bald patch and surgeons can take healthy hairs from the sides or back of the head to use as donor sites. In women, the hair is thinning all over the head so there are no healthy donor sites to draw from.
If you are one of the few women for whom surgical hair transplant surgery is a good option, you still have to think about whether it’s the right choice for you. This type of surgery takes about 4 to 8 hours to complete and you’ll be tender or sore for several days up to several weeks after. In some cases, you may even need to have the procedure done several times with a few months of healing in between. The total average cost for this hair replacement procedure is between $4,000 and $15,000. Can you afford it?
What Are the Options for Surgical Real Hair Restoration?
Whether you are a candidate for surgical hair restoration or not, you may be curious to know what the different options are. There are two primary procedures used for hair plugs today:
- Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Follicular unit hair transplantation involves harvesting a strip of healthy hairs from the back of the head and then cutting it up into individual grafts. Follicular unit extraction, on the other hand, involves harvesting individual follicular units (grafts) from the back of the head, one by one. After the hairs have been harvested, the rest of the procedure is the same for both options – the surgeon uses tiny blades and needles to insert the grafts in the balding area. Both procedures are long and tedious, but they are painless once numbing injections are given.
Following the hair plug surgery, you should expect some tenderness and swelling from the donor sites as well as the plantation sites. You will mostly likely need to take 2 to 5 days off from work and you’ll be on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and pain killers for several days. After a few weeks of careful washing and care, the grafts will fall out and new hairs will begin to grow. Some doctors recommend using Minoxidil and/or Finasteride to stimulate growth, but these medications don’t always work the same way for women as they do for men.
Which Hair Loss Restoration Procedure is Right for You?
Now that you have a better understanding of what hair transplant surgery is like, you may be wondering which option is the best for you. First and foremost, however, you need to determine whether you are a candidate for the surgery at all. Here are the hallmarks of a good candidate for surgical hair restoration in women:
- Your hair loss is caused by mechanical or traction alopecia
- You are looking to treat hair loss around the incision site for prior cosmetic procedures
- You have a distinct pattern of baldness – either receding hairline or vertex thinning
- Your hair loss is caused by burns or trauma to the scalp
- Your hair loss is caused by alopecia marginalis and is non-hormonal
If you meet one or more of these criteria, talk to your doctor to confirm whether surgical hair loss treatments might be right for you. If so, then you can move on to thinking about which procedure is the best option. Here is an overview of the advantages for both FUE and FUT surgery:
- FUT can cover larger bald spots in fewer sittings than FUE
- The resection rate for grafts is lower with FUT, providing better results
- FUE doesn’t require large sections of donor skin to be removed
- There is no linear scar or stitches with FUE surgery
- The recovery time for FUE is faster than FUT – you can go back to work in one day
As you can see, there are benefits for both procedures, so it will depend on the size and severity of your hair loss which option is the right one for you. You should opt for the FUT method if you have a large bald patch to cover and if you don’t mind the cuts and stitches that necessitate a longer recovery period. The FUE hair restoration option is right for you if you have smaller patches of baldness or if you wear shorter hair styles. It may also be best if you want a less invasive procedure and a faster recovery time.
Laser Hair Restoration and Other Nonsurgical Therapies
Because surgical hair loss treatments are not recommended for most women, you may need to turn to other nonsurgical hair restoration. One option worth considering is low-level laser therapy, or LLLT. This is a non-invasive therapy that helps to stimulate hair growth by targeting them with infrared light to shift the dormant follicles back into the growth phase. This form of therapy only works for active hair follicles – it won’t repair a bald spot. You will likely need multiple sessions, each lasting up to 15 minutes and costing around $50.
If laser hair restoration doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, you still have options. Minoxidil (also known as Rogaine) is a topical application that can help to stimulate hair growth. This treatment works best in conjunction with finasteride (known by the brand name Propecia) which is a prescription medication. For many years, these treatments were only recommended for men, but they are not available (and approved) for use in women. The difference is in the dosage – you’ll need to take 2% vs 5% minoxidil or 5 mg versus 1 mg finasteride.
When it comes to hair loss restoration, there are many different options to consider. Keep in mind, however, that some of these methods are only recommended for men or for women who have a certain type of hair loss. Before you choose a restoration method, talk to your doctor about which procedures are most likely to produce the desired results. Best of luck!