The Obstacles to Treating Women’s Hair Loss

June 29, 2015 8:29 pm

Most know that hair loss affects a significant proportion of people around the world, as many as 56 million according to statistics published by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery.  However, many are unaware that nearly 40% of those people are women.  In fact, it is believed that as many as 80% of all women will experience a noticeable degree of hair loss by the time they reach 60, but embarrassment and social stigma have historically caused the issue to be trivialized and ignored.  At The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, we have studied women’s hair loss extensively in order to understand and properly address the specific obstacles to its treatment.

treating womens hairloss in atlanta gaWhile the most common cause of hair loss in either gender is androgenetic alopecia, otherwise known as pattern baldness, the condition progresses differently in women than in men.  Men lose hair beginning at the front and progressing to the temples and crown, but generally maintain thick coverage across the back of the scalp.  Surgical hair restoration procedures are able to transplant healthy, growing follicles from the dense areas into areas that are thinning.  In women, however, hair loss generally progresses in a pattern over the vertex scalp that is more diffuse and evenly distributed.  This means that women experience gradual thinning across the entire scalp rather than a single area of marked baldness.  As a result, by the time the hair loss is significant enough to benefit from hair transplantation, there is often insufficient density in any one spot to provide a suitable area from which donor follicles can be removed.

Non-surgical treatments for hair loss such as finasteride work extremely well for male pattern loss, but there are conflicting studies on the efficacy of this medicine in females. There are likely different pathways involving dihydrotestosterone production in males and females. Moreover, finasteride (sold under the name Propecia®) should be avoided by women who are or who may become pregnant because of the risk of birth defects in a male fetus.  Fortunately, studies have shown that minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine® and currently the only medication approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat female pattern baldness) actually seems to be more effective for women than men in treating certain forms of hair loss.

Because the treatment of women’s hair loss can be a complicated process, every woman’s case should be evaluated individually in order to arrive at a customized solution that best meets their personal needs and lifestyle.  If you have additional questions about your own hair loss, or are interested in any of the hair restoration treatments we offer at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, please contact Dr. Griffin or Dr. Curtis to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Women’s Hair Loss Pioneer, Dr. Ashley Curtis

June 22, 2015 2:42 am

For generations, some women have suffered in silence.  While it has always been considered acceptable, and even expected, for men to go through the hair loss process, some in the medical community have treated the issue of women’s hair loss as if it were nonexistent.  However, women actually make up approximately forty percent of American hair loss sufferers and, for them, the effects of hair loss on their self-image and emotional well-being can be absolutely devastating.  Unfortunately, because it can be the result of so many different causes, and because the issue has gone unexamined for so long, women’s hair loss can also be extremely difficult to accurately diagnose or effectively treat.  That’s why, at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, we are so glad to have board certified dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon, and expert in the field of women’s hair loss, Dr. Ashley Curtis.

ashley-curtisBorn in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Curtis graduated with highest honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering.  From there, she went on to receive her medical doctorate from the Medical College of Georgia and then completed her residency at the Wake Forest University Department of Dermatology, where she was named chief resident and received the coveted Women’s Dermatologic Society Mentorship Award.  During that time she volunteered extensively, working at the Wake Forest Dermatology Department Community Care Clinic and helping to conduct annual skin cancer screenings.

Today, with board certification from the American Board of Dermatology, Dr. Curtis has focused her passion on the study of hair loss.  She has spent four years treating hair loss and perfecting hair restoration surgery techniques under the tutelage of world-renowned hair restoration expert Dr. Edmond I. Griffin.  An active member of the American Academy of Dermatology, Women’s Dermatologic Society, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, Dr. Curtis has continued to contribute to the advance of medical research, by publishing almost two dozen scholarly articles and presentations and producing regular instructional videos on a wide array of hair and skin related topics.

As Dr. Curtis explains in one of her many instructional YouTube videos, “Women are very different from men: we lose hair differently, our hair grows in differently, and we deal with different color and texture. So it’s important that you visit a specialist who has experience in treating women as well as men.  The good news is that we do have treatment options for females, so we don’t have to be scared and hide this hair loss anymore.”  If you are experiencing thinning or hair loss, or would like to know more about any of the various hair restoration treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Dr. Edmond Griffin: A Lifetime of Hair Restoration Experience

June 18, 2015 2:32 am

One of the most difficult things about treating hair loss in women is that it can be the result of so many different causes.  While genetic pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is the most common culprit, thinning hair may be a symptom of an underlying hormonal imbalance, the product of rare auto-immune conditions, the consequence of physical trauma or stress, or any of a number of other underlying causes.  Formulating an effective treatment plan requires, first and foremost, an understanding of what exactly needs to be addressed.  That’s why, here at The Griffin Center, we always say that every case of alopecia must have a diagnosis.  However, making that diagnosis requires a level of experience that can only be gained from a lifetime of devotion to the study of hair loss, experience like that of Dr. Edmond Griffin. Confirmation by biopsy may also be needed to know how to best direct the treatment program.

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Dr. Griffin has lived in Georgia for most his life, growing up in Albany, completing his B.S. in chemistry at the University of Georgia, and then going on to earn his M.D. from the Medical College of Georgia in 1971.  Upon completing his internship at the Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital in pediatrics, Dr. Griffin was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was assigned to a pediatric clinic. He then completed his residency in dermatology at the Mary Hitchcock Hospital at Dartmouth College, where he was named chief resident.

Upon receiving board certification from the American Board of Dermatology, Dr. Griffin founded Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, which eventually grew to incorporate eight different dermatologic specialty centers, and devoted his resources and time to improving his mastery of his primary specialty, hair replacement surgery.  Dr. Griffin eventually came to be recognized around the world as an expert in the field and has worked individually with innovators like Dadour of Paris, the Ungers of Toronto, Alt of Minnesota, Mayer and Fleming of Beverly Hills, Pitanguy of Rio de Janeiro, and Yarborough of New Orleans.  When other hair transplant surgeons from across North America were surveyed as to who they would want to perform their own hair restoration surgery, Dr. Griffin was among the top five surgeons selected, and surgeons regularly visit from across North America and overseas to observe Dr. Griffin’s hair restoration techniques.  Since 1993, Dr. Griffin has also been an esteemed member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, a nonprofit group of over 750 licensed physicians specializing in hair-loss and dedicated to furthering hair restoration practices.

Today, Dr. Griffin continues to work with men and women suffering from hair loss, and has incorporated many of the latest technological innovations, like NeoGraft® automated follicular unit extraction, LaserCap™ Red Light Therapy, and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments, into his practice.  If you are experiencing thinning or hair loss, or would like to know more about any of the various hair restoration treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

What To Do When You’re Losing Your Hair

June 3, 2015 12:21 pm

So you’ve started to lose your hair.  Perhaps you have noticed a few extra strands on your pillow or around the shower drain, or maybe it has just become clear that there are parts of your scalp that are much more noticeable than they once were.  First, it’s important to realize that you are not alone.  Sudden or gradual hair loss affects more than 50 million people world-wide and more than 60% of men and women can be expected to experience some form of noticeable hair loss by the time they are sixty years old. Hair loss can affect anyone – men, women, and even children.  Effectively treating the many different forms of hair loss is the reason that The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research was founded almost forty years ago and it is our goal to make sure that our patients understand all of the options that are available.
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Although the majority of hair loss, or alopecia, is the result of pattern baldness, a genetic trait that causes the follicles to shrink and eventually stop producing hair, this is certainly not its only cause.  Hair loss can also be the result of a number of different factors, including trauma, certain medications, or even an underlying medical condition.  Finding the most effective treatment for your specific form of hair loss requires a thorough understanding of its underlying causes, which is why, at The Griffin Center, we firmly believe that every case of alopecia requires its own diagnosis.  There is no “one size fits all” treatment for hair loss, so your first step should entail a thorough examination by Dr. Edmond Griffin or Dr. Ashley Curtis, our highly experienced hair restoration specialists.

Once the cause of your hair loss has been established, we can move on to determining what course of treatment is best for you.  In cases where the hair loss is only beginning to manifest and has not progressed too far, various non-surgical hair loss treatments can be extremely effective in slowing or even stopping hair loss, helping you hold on to the hair you already have.  The oral medication finasteride has been shown to stop the progression of hair loss in 86% of men during clinical trials, and 65% of those taking the medication have reported a “substantial” increase in hair growth.  The topical medication minoxidil has also achieved impressive results in 30% to 60% of cases.  After performing a careful evaluation, we are often able to formulate custom blends of topical prescription medications to meet specific patient needs.  Additionally, technologically advanced treatment methods like Red Light Therapy can inhibit inflammation and increase the metabolic activity within the skin cells of the scalp, helping to maintain the hair on the head and prevent further thinning.

For those whose hair loss is more advanced, hair restoration surgery can often restore significant coverage and provide permanent, natural looking results.  During the procedure, clusters of growing hair follicles, called follicular units, are taken from healthy areas of the patient’s scalp and transplanted by hand into tiny, custom sized incisions in bald or thinning areas.  When properly placed and angled by our experienced surgeons, these miniature follicular grafts work together to create a soft, organic hair line that grows just like the rest of your natural hair.  Whether the follicular units are collected using a traditional incision at the back of the scalp, or through follicular unit extraction with the NeoGraft® device, patients who have benefited from this procedure agree that the natural-looking results are worth it.

If you have additional questions about your own hair loss, or are interested in any of the hair restoration treatments we offer at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, please contact Dr. Griffin or Dr. Curtis to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?

May 28, 2015 5:35 pm

For generations, people have accepted the belief that stress can cause hair loss.  However, the reality is actually significantly more complicated.  While there does seem to be some correlation between increased stress levels and accelerated hair loss in certain individuals, the actual mechanisms that cause this phenomenon can vary from case to case.  For nearly forty years, The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research has been dedicated to the study of hair loss in all its forms, and it is our belief that hair loss can be best treated only once we understand precisely what is causing it.

Simply put, approximately 90% of all hair loss is the result of androgenetic alopecia, or common pattern baldness, which is genetically inherited and not related to stress at all.  However, this does not quite tell the whole story.  Because the body’s different processes are all interconnected, chronic, low-level emotional stress can, over time, result in changes in your health and alter physiological processes like hair growth.  For example, even though stress cannot actually make you sick, it can cause you to lose sleep and alter your appetite.  These factors can then impact your immune system and make you more susceptible to disease. Emotional stress has been shown to lead to release of certain pro-inflammatory mediators in the body negatively affecting hair follicle growth.

Understanding-and-Avoiding-Winter-Hair-Loss-700x1049The individual hair follicles on the scalp do not continuously produce hair, instead progressing through a regular growth cycle consisting of three distinct stages: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transition phase), and telogen (resting phase).  At any given time, approximately 15% of the hair follicles are in the telogen stage, where the hair is shed over a period of three to five months in order to make room for new growth.  However, an extreme physical or mental stressor, like traumatic injury, major surgery, or extreme weight loss, can cause the body to trigger a disproportionately large number of hairs to move into the telogen phase all at once.  About three months later, this hair begins to fall out, causing diffuse thinning over the entire scalp.  Fortunately, however, this form of hair loss, called telogen effluvium, is only temporary, and the removal of the physical stress allows the hair to return to its normal growth cycle over the course of the next six to twelve months.

Other, less common forms of hair loss can suffer from the effects of stress as well.  Alopecia areata, an auto-immune disorder that causes the body to form antibodies that attack the hair follicles, is not directly caused by stress, but may be exacerbated by it.  Stress has been shown, in some cases, to affect the immune system, compromising the body’s ability to defend itself against infection.  Although stress can mimic the symptoms of more serious forms of hair loss, or even stimulate and worsen previous conditions, it does not cause the hair to fall out permanently.

If you have questions about your individual hair loss or any hair restoration treatments, please contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Historical Hair Loss Remedies

May 11, 2015 7:56 am

Hair loss has plagued both men and women for countless ages, and the attempts to cure it can be dated back to the very dawn of recorded civilization.  While most of these early attempts have met with failure, some have provided the basis for hair restoration treatments that are used today.  At the Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research we investigate hair loss in all of its forms in order to better understand exactly what causes it as well as how it can best be treated.  Here is a look at some of the hair loss remedies that have been tried throughout the ages.

The Ebers Papyrus, a medical text that dates back to 1550 B.C., suggests several potential cures for hair loss, including a mixture of fats from a hippopotamus, crocodile, tomcat, snake and ibex; porcupine hair boiled in water and applied to the scalp for four days; or the leg of a female greyhound sautéed in oil with the hoof of a donkey.  Apparently these remedies were less than effective, however, since the royalty of ancient Egypt is also known to have commonly worn wigs and fake beards.  More than a thousand years later, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed a topical concoction of opium, horseradish, pigeon droppings, beetroot and spices for his own hair loss. He also famously noted that eunuchs never seemed to suffer from thinning hair and theorized that castration might prevent hair loss. Since the most common form of hair loss, known as genetic pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia, does result from an inherited sensitivity to the male hormone dihydrotestosterone, this particular remedy, while obviously drastic, may not be quite as ridiculous as it sounds.

More recently, many have attempted to solve the hair loss problem with technology.  In the 1920’s, the Allied Merke Institute manufactured the Thermocap device, which used heat and blue light to stimulate dormant hair bulbs. Although simply heating the scalp failed to produce any real results, recent research has found that specific frequencies of red light actually can increase the energy production around the hair follicles, waking cells from dormancy into an active growth phase. Red Light Therapy with the new LaserCap® device is used today to maintain the hair on the head and prevent further thinning.  Many patients even see some regrowth of hair as well.  Finally, in 1939, a Japanese dermatologist pioneered a procedure for grafting hair from one part of the scalp (or from other parts of the body) onto bald spots. Two decades later, the New York doctor Norman Orentreich popularized hair transplants, which implanted small tufts of growing hair in regular rows to create an effect reminiscent of doll’s hair.  This same technique was improved and refined over the years, eventually becoming the basis for modern surgical hair transplantation procedures which use much smaller individual follicular units, dissected under microscopes, to achieve significantly more natural looking results.

While these historical hair loss remedies have long since been disproven by scientific research, they have served as a basis for many of the most exciting developments in modern hair restoration treatments.  If you have any other questions about hair loss or any of the hair restoration treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Is Your Morning Routine Damaging Your Hair?

May 6, 2015 3:47 pm

Hair loss and thinning can be the result of a variety of different causes.  While hair loss specialists and board-certified dermatologists Dr. Edmond Griffin and Dr. Ashley Curtis frequently discuss with patients the role that genetics, illness, and stress can play in causing hair loss and thinning, there are also several everyday beauty treatments that can not only damage the hair but also bring about temporary or even long term hair loss.  Simply avoiding these damaging hair care practices can often go a long way towards keeping your hair looking full and healthy.

5 Ways to Avoid Damaging Hair Products (Medium)Many people believe that they need to shampoo their hair every day, but this is not always the case.  Shampoo is an emulsifier that captures excess oil, dirt, and product residue so that it can be rinsed out, cleaning the hair.  However, the hair also naturally produces an essential oil called sebum and washing the hair too frequently can strip this oil away, leaving the hair dry and more prone to breakage.  Those with very fine hair, an oily scalp, or who exercise (and sweat) a great deal or who live in humid environments, usually need to shampoo daily to keep the hair clean, but people with thicker, dry, or curly hair can afford to wash less frequently.  On the other hand, certain forms of hair loss, such as androgenetic alopecia, may actually be accelerated by allowing the hair to go long periods between washings, so consulting with one of our board-certified dermatologists is the best way to determine what course is best in your individual case.

After shampooing, many go on to expose their hair to high heat from blow dryers, flat irons, or curling irons.  These styling aids can boil the water in the hair shaft, leaving it brittle and fragile to the point that simply brushing it causes breakage.  Moreover, the process of rubbing the wet hair vigorously with a towel and then rough combing through the tangles can be extremely damaging as well. The hair’s elasticity is significantly increased while it is wet and so it can be more prone to breakage.  Detangling is often best performed with fingers or with a wide toothed pick.

Several common hair care products can also cause damage to the hair.  Regular use of harsh chemical treatments, including gels, dyes, relaxers, and products containing heavy paraffin and beeswax, can ultimately weigh hair down and cause it to grow weaker and break more easily.  It is safest to limit the amount of hair coloring and heat that you apply to your hair and instead use high-quality sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners to allow the hair’s natural oils to provide shine and protection.  Using light weight serums containing dimethicone can hydrate and protect the hair shafts from external stressors such as heat and chemicals.

Finally, tight hair styles such as braiding, ponytails, and sew-in hair pieces can place constant tension on the hair follicles, causing a condition known as traction alopecia.  In this type of loss, the hair is pulled out by the roots or breaks unevenly, usually leaving behind areas of obvious thinning along the front and sides of the scalp.  Traction alopecia is most commonly seen after braiding of the hair into tight braids for months at a time and can, if left untreated, eventually damage the hair follicles to the point that permanent hair loss occurs.  Fortunately, simply changing the hair style and allowing the hair to relax and grow naturally is enough to stop significant, long-term thinning.

If you have additional questions about your own hair loss, or are interested in any of the hair restoration treatments we offer at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, please contact Dr. Griffin or Dr. Curtis to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Answering Your Questions about Hair Transplantation

April 30, 2015 9:11 am

Dealing with hair loss can be emotionally trying for anyone.  At The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research we believe that the best way to address the fears and anxiety that hair loss can cause is by educating our patients and keeping them fully informed about their diagnosis and all of their treatment options.  Hair transplant is the only treatment that guarantees new hair in areas of thinning scalp. Every day we talk to patients who have questions about hair transplantation surgery and here are answers to some of the questions we hear most.

How does hair transplant surgery work?

All modern hair transplants essentially take healthy, actively-growing hair follicles from one area of the scalp and then place them into different areas where the hair follicles have started to shrink and go dormant.  This works because genetic pattern hair loss (or androgenetic alopecia, which is responsible for approximately 95% of all cases of hair loss, in both men and women) follows a predictable pattern.  While the hair follicles at the front and crown seem genetically susceptible to the hormones that cause them to eventually shrink and stop producing hair, those on the back and sides of the head are not, so these follicles will continue to grow hair naturally even if transplanted into balding areas.

What is the difference between Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Grafting (FUG)?

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) removes follicular units, each containing one, two, three, or four individual hair follicles, directly from the donor area, leaving behind many tiny, circular “holes” in the skin. These heal quickly and are barely noticeable.  The Follicular Unit Grafting (FUG) technique, however, surgically removes a single thin strip of skin from the back or sides of the scalp which is then microscopically dissected by our team into the follicular unit grafts.  In both cases, the end result is hundreds (or thousands) of individual follicular unit grafts which can then be sorted and transplanted into the thinning or balding area.  The difference is not in the area of hair growth, or in the placement of the hair follicles, but in how the donor area is harvested.

Will hair restoration surgery leave scars?

Any form of hair restoration surgery involves the surgical removal of hair follicles from the scalp, and wherever a cut or wound is made to the skin some form of scar will be left behind.  Follicular Unit Grafting will create a thin linear scar where the donor strip was removed, while follicular unit extraction leaves hundreds of tiny circular scars in the same area.  However, at the Griffin Center, our skill and experience allows us to minimize the appearance of these scars dramatically.  Our experienced technicians carefully dissect the donor scalp under a sophisticated binocular microscope, producing a higher number of viable grafts from a much smaller section of scalp.  This allows our surgeons to remove a far narrower strip of hair follicles, creating a smaller wound and leaving a less pronounced scar.  Finally, Dr. Edmond Griffin and Dr. Ashley Curtis use a special type of closure that produces a barely visible scar and allows new hairs to grow through the scar line.  Regardless of which harvesting method is used, the remaining hair on the back of the head will grow to cover the nearly invisible scars left behind after the procedure.

If you have any other questions about hair loss or any of the hair restoration treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Technological Advancements Improve Hair Restoration Results

April 22, 2015 3:41 pm

Here at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, we are interested in pursuing all the latest, most technologically advanced treatments for hair loss in order to give you the most natural looking results.  While we pride ourselves on the extensive skill and experience of our dedicated medical team, we also understand that innovative technological advancements can ensure than every one of our patients has the best experience possible.  Two of these recent developments involve the use of the NeoGraft® Automated Hair Transplantation System and platelet rich plasma.

hair restoration surgery atlantaHair restoration is a constantly evolving area of medical research and ever since the very first hair transplant there have been a number of advancements to make the procedure more efficient and effective.  Specifically, the follicular unit extraction (FUE) technique, which requires the removal of individual follicular units, one at a time, from the donor area, can be extremely time-consuming and physically demanding.  The NeoGraft® device works as an extension of the surgeon’s hand to remove these individual follicular units with controlled air pressure rather than with manual incisions, increasing the number of grafts that can be obtained in a single session and ultimately reducing the amount of time the patient has to spend undergoing the extraction procedure.  Moreover, this process better preserves the integrity of the hair shafts by avoiding the pulling and twisting motions that can damage the graft prior to transplantation.

Hair restoration surgery has also had to overcome the difficulties involved in preserving the viability of the grafts awaiting implantation.  Any form of hair restoration surgery, whether accomplished through follicular unit grafting or follicular unit extraction with NeoGraft®, requires that the individual follicular units removed from the scalp spend time in transit before they are placed into a recipient area.  During this in-transit time, they may be exposed to any number of conditions that can potentially affect the viability of the follicles and inhibit their ability to produce new hair at the recipient site.  The NeoGraft® system addresses this concern by drawing the grafts directly into a sealed chamber, preventing them from drying out and ensuring that they remain fresh and vital while awaiting implantation.  However recent research into the use of Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP, has found that soaking the grafts in this specially concentrated solution of the patient’s own blood platelets and growth factors improves follicle viability during and after transplantation, enhances post-transplantation tissue healing and promotes hair growth in transplanted follicles.  Many researchers even advocate bathing the donor hair follicles in activated Platelet Rich Plasma just prior to transplantation.

The addition of new treatment methods like platelet rich plasma in combination with the latest surgical techniques have greatly enhanced the overall effectiveness of all of our hair restoration methods.  If you have additional questions about your own hair loss, or are interested in any of the hair restoration treatments we offer at The Griffin Center, please contact Dr. Griffin or Dr. Curtis to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

The Differences between Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss

April 10, 2015 8:51 am

For many years it was believed that hair loss was a distinctly male problem, so much so that hair loss in women was seldom even discussed.  However today we know that approximately 40% of the estimated 56 million people suffering from hair loss in the United States are women.  As more and more women come forward to seek hair restoration treatment, our team at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research is gaining an ever expanding understanding of different underlying causes that contribute to hair loss.  While the forms of hair loss in men and women do share many similarities, it is their distinct differences that are most important in shedding light on this all-to-pervasive condition.

hair loss women atlantaBoth male and female pattern hair loss appear to have a genetic component, meaning that it is possible to inherit a predisposition for this form of hair loss from your relatives.  Contrary to what was once thought, this inheritance is not based solely on the female parent.  In fact, according to the most recent research, the genetic backgrounds of both parents seem to play a significant role in pattern hair loss.  Until recently, scientists believed that androgenetic alopecia was caused, in both men and women, by hormones, particularly the predominance of the male sex hormone, testosterone, which women normally have in trace amounts. Further investigation determined that a derivative of the male hormone testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (or DHT) is actually at the core of the balding process.  When DHT binds to certain receptors in the hair follicles of the scalp it causes them to shrink.  Over time, this results in the production of hair that is both shorter and finer than before.  Eventually, the affected scalp follicles go from producing large, thick, pigmented terminal hairs to thinner, shorter, indeterminate hairs and finally to short, wispy, non-pigmented vellus hairs before they ultimately stop producing hair altogether.

While this reaction to DHT is almost always present in cases of male pattern hair loss, it is sometimes noticeably absent in female cases, suggesting that more research needs to be done before the underlying cause of female pattern baldness can be conclusively determined.  Still, the most obvious difference between the male and female versions of androgenetic alopecia is the presentation and progression of the symptoms.  In men, the pattern begins at the hairline.  Hair loss at the temples causes the hairline to gradually move backward, or recede, to form an “M” shape.  As the hair becomes finer, shorter, and thinner, hair loss increases at the crown, eventually leaving only a U-shaped (or horseshoe) pattern of hair around the sides of the head.  Female patients, on the other hand, generally lose hair diffusely over the crown of the head, producing a gradual thinning of the hair rather than an area of marked baldness.  This usually begins with a widening of the midline part in the center, which leaves very good density in the back and fairly good density on the sides while preserving the frontal hairline.  If left untreated, the thinning often spreads to the side areas of the scalp in the temples and above the ears, but it is very rare for women to experience complete baldness.  Of course not everyone is the same, and different patients may exhibit different patterns of hair loss.

If you have questions about your individual hair loss or any of the hair restoration treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration to schedule a consultation.  Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.