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.
While 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+.