What is Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia?

Even though people have been suffering from hair loss and studying its causes since the very beginning of civilization, new discoveries are being made virtually every day.  Not only are we testing and perfecting new forms of treatment, like advanced hair transplantation methods and the use of platelet rich plasma or red light laser therapy, but we are also uncovering previously unknown causes of hair loss altogether.  Take, for example, frontal fibrosing alopecia, or FFA, a form of potentially permanent hair loss that was only first identified in 1994 but which has been occurring with increasing regularity over the past few years.  Understanding what FFA looks like and who is most at risk is the best way to catch the condition early and avoid significant damage.

Frontal fibrosing alopecia is one of several different forms of scarring alopecia, types of hair loss that result when an underlying medical condition or external environmental factor attacks and destroys the hair follicles, replacing them with scar tissue.  Distinguished from other forms of scarring alopecia by its distinctive presentation and progression, FFA causes a symmetrical band of hair loss on the front and sides of the scalp, making is appear as though the entire hair line is moving backwards.  This commonly includes a progressive thinning of the sideburns and the loss of the eyebrows.  As hair follicles are destroyed and replaced with scar tissue, the frontal hair line may appear ragged or “moth-eaten”.  At the margins of the bald areas, hair follicles may appear to be red and swollen and white, shiny scars may be left behind.

Frontal fibrosing alopecia has been reported 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 forties as well.   Although exceedingly rare, there have also been a handful of cases where the condition has occurred in men.  It is often misdiagnosed, and can be easily mistaken for traction hair loss, a much more common condition that occurs when tight hairstyles like braids, pony-tails, or man-buns, place excessive tension on the hair follicles.  However, whereas traction hair loss is generally temporary and easily treated, frontal fibrosing alopecia is much more serious and if not caught early may result in permanently damaged hair follicles.  Research into frontal fibrosing alopecia is still ongoing and its cause remains largely unknown, but at The Griffin Center for Women’s Hair Loss, the first center in Georgia exclusively devoted to addressing the unique issues associated with women’s hair loss and hair restoration, board-certified dermatologists Dr. Edmond Griffin and Dr. Ashley Curtis will work closely with you to formulate a customized hair loss treatment plan.

No matter what the underlying cause of your particular hair loss, our experienced staff can identify it, treat it, and help get you back to looking your best.  If you are interested in learning more about your hair restoration options, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get the latest news or contact The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration so that we can schedule an appointment for a full consultation.