It is easy to think of hair loss as a single, relatively straightforward problem, but it can actually be much more complicated than most people imagine. That’s why, at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, we are constantly exploring the most recent discoveries about all of the different forms of hair loss and their various treatments. One of these recent discoveries involves new treatment options for frontal fibrosing alopecia, or FFA, a form of potentially permanent hair loss that has grown increasingly common over the past several years.
As one of several different forms of scarring alopecia, frontal fibrosing alopecia is believed to be the result of inflammation that attacks and destroys the hair follicles, replacing them with scar tissue. It is likely to be autoimmune in nature and is distinctive in both its presentation and its progression. FFA attacks the frontal hair line and sides of the scalp, making it appear as though the entire hair line is moving backwards, and it usually includes a progressive thinning of the sideburns and the loss of the eyebrows as well. The frontal hair line eventually takes on a ragged or “moth-eaten” appearance. Frontal fibrosing alopecia is found most frequently in post-menopausal women who are in their fifties, but there have also been multiple cases found in women in their thirties and a small number of cases where the condition has occurred in men as well.
The specific cause of frontal fibrosing alopecia remains largely unknown, and the medications that have been used to treat this condition over the years have achieved relatively small and inconsistent results. However, just this past month, the Department of Dermatology at the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland published a study1 that suggests a new approach to this stressful and unrelenting problem. This study found that treatment with the retinoids isotretinoin and acitretin, in combination with finasteride, effectively stopped the progression of FFA in 75% of patients, as opposed to the 43% who saw remission while using finasteride alone. The most impressive aspect of this treatment was that the process and inflammation of FFA remained stable for over a year after discontinuing the medications and no further flare up was seen in follow-ups.
Additionally, Serbian and American plastic surgeons have been developing a new FFA treatment that attempts to restore the normal immune process in the skin of the scalp through the use of platelet rich plasma therapy combined with stem cells obtained from the patient’s own fat stores. At The Griffin Center, we have been using platelet rich plasma therapy for decades to help patients recover more quickly after hair transplantation surgery and as a stand-along treatment for certain forms of hair loss, and we know that it is both safe and effective.
Experiencing any form of hair loss, particularly a form of scarring hair loss like frontal fibrosing alopecia, can potentially be both frustrating and frightening, but Dr. Edmond Griffin and Dr. Ashley Curtis can help. If you are interested in learning more about your hair restoration options, follow us on social media to get the latest news or contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration so that we can schedule an appointment for a full diagnosis and consultation.
- Oral Isotretinoin and Acitretin may offer FFA patients new hope! Rakowska A,Gradzinska A, Olszewska M, et al. Efficacy of Isotretinoin and Acitretin in Treatment of Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia: Retrospective Analysis of 54 Cases. J of Drugs in Dermatol. 2017; Vol 16, I10, Oct. 988-992. (n.d.).