There are many misconceptions about hair loss, and chief among them is the idea that the condition only affects men. This, however, is completely untrue. A survey of 800 women conducted by Wakefield Research in June of 2016 indicated that nearly 40% of respondents who were 18 and older had already begun to notice signs of hair loss or thinning. Further, more than 50% of respondents ages 58 and older and more than 60% of respondents ages 65 and older had also experienced it. When compared to past studies, this suggests that the number of women experiencing hair loss in the United States as increased from an estimated 30 million to more than 46 million, an increase of more than 50% in the last 10 years. This is one of the reasons why, in October of 2015, we formed The Griffin Center for Women’s Hair Loss, the first center of its kind in Georgia exclusively devoted to addressing the unique issues associated with women’s hair restoration.
There are many different causes of hair loss, but the majority of cases are the result of androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as genetic pattern baldness. For many years, it was believed that the genes responsible for this condition were carried by the mother, but they were not expressed in women because the condition was triggered by the male sex hormone, testosterone, which women normally have only in trace amounts. Further investigation, however, found that it was not testosterone, per se, but a derivative of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, that triggered this form of hair loss. When DHT binds to certain receptors in the hair follicles of the scalp, it causes them to shrink. Over time, these shrinking follicles produce hair that is both shorter and finer than before, until eventually they stop producing new hair altogether. In men, this process only affects the follicles in very specific regions of the scalp, creating the distinctive hair loss pattern that gives “genetic pattern baldness” its name. It was only relatively recently that it was discovered that the more diffuse hair loss which occurs in women could often also be attributed to the same cause. While women obviously have lower levels of DHT in their bodies than men, their follicles can inherit sensitivity to it from either parent and so can ultimately suffer a similar degradation.
Unfortunately, the difficulties in treating women’s hair loss do not end there. While androgenetic alopecia can be blamed for the majority of the hair loss that affects women, it is certainly not the only cause or contributing factor. In women any number of conditions, ranging from hormonal changes caused by thyroid abnormalities, menopause, or birth control pills, to physical stress from surgery, illness, anemia, or rapid weight loss, to even the side effects of certain common medications can all result in some degree of hair thinning. Many women also experience a condition called traction alopecia, when hair styles that place excessive tension on the hair follicles, like tight braiding, ponytails, and sew-in hair pieces, damage the keratin bulb at the hair’s root and cause thinning around the front and sides of the scalp. At The Griffin Center for Women’s Hair Loss, experienced hair loss specialists like Dr. Edmond Griffin and Dr. Ashley Curtis use advanced diagnostic methods to pinpoint exactly what kind of hair loss a patient is experiencing, so that they can determine what surgical or non-surgical hair loss treatments would best suit their individual needs.
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing hair loss, or if you are interested in learning more about any of hair restoration treatments that we offer at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research and the Griffin Center for Women’s Hair Loss, please contact The Griffin Center at (404) 256-4369 to schedule a consultation. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get news on the latest developments in hair restoration technology and techniques.