Hair loss may be more common (and more socially acceptable) in men, but the problem affects women, too. In fact, The American Academy of Dermatology reports that, by age 40, as much as 40% of all women have experienced visible hair loss. Fortunately, there are non-surgical treatments that work to slow or stop hair loss and even lead to regrowth. In this edition of our Doctor’s Office series, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Gary Goldenberg breaks down the causes of hair loss and highlights the groundbreaking treatments that allow patients to not only boost hair growth, but also their self-confidence.
Let’s not mince words—hair loss, especially for women, can be traumatic. The experience of losing your hair affects your appearance, your self-confidence and how you approach nearly every aspect of your life, from your social and romantic relationships to your professional endeavors.
However, when it comes to hair loss, not all is lost. Thanks to breakthroughs in the field of hair loss treatment, those suffering have more options available to them than ever before.
Causes of Hair Loss in Women
First, it is important to understand what is causing your hair to thin. On average, we naturally lose approximately 100 to 150 strands of hair each day. When more shedding than this becomes noticeable, one of the two most common causes of hair loss is usually to blame.
Androgenetic alopecia is a form of hair loss—commonly known as male- or female-pattern baldness—caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Without treatment, patients will usually see a worsening of hair density over a period of 12 months. Most women who experience this type of hair loss don’t go completely bald (it is possible, but rare), while men experiencing androgenetic alopecia can lose all of their hair on the crown of their scalp.
Telogen effluvium, on the other hand, is caused by changes within the body due to illness, pregnancy, extreme emotional stress or in reaction to surgery or medication. Sudden hair loss—often described as “shedding”—occurs equally all over the head as the shock your system is experiencing forces your hair from the anagen (growing) phase into the telogen (resting) phase, after which it falls out. While waiting for hair loss due to telogen effluvium to stop and new hair to grow can be a slow, frustrating process, most cases significantly improve over the course of six to nine months.
To determine what is causing your hair loss, your doctor will examine your scalp, carefully observing the location of the hair loss and whether or not follicle miniaturization has occurred. Follicle miniaturization refers to the process in which both the hair follicle and the hair shaft shrink, becoming incrementally thinner over time, and is a sign of androgenetic alopecia hair loss.
Follicle miniaturization does not occur in cases of telogen effluvium hair loss. Instead, the hair that has fallen out is replaced by new, growing hair over time. However, when the hair doesn’t naturally restore itself, it may be a sign that you are transitioning from temporary telogen effluvium hair loss into permanent androgenic alopecia hair loss.
Groundbreaking Treatments for Thinning Hair
The good news is that two state-of-the-art, nonsurgical hair restoration treatments are now available. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections and stem cell injections can naturally and effectively treat androgenic alopecia hair loss and can help decrease the shedding and speed up regrowth in cases of telogen effluvium hair loss.
PRP is a process in which your blood is drawn and then placed in a centrifuge to separate out the plasma. Plasma is rich in platelets, which contain many growth factors that can stimulate the hair follicles. The isolated plasma is injected into your scalp and the procedure usually takes less than an hour.
For optimal hair restoration results, PRP is usually performed at regular intervals about once a month for the first three to four months. Results can often first be seen within two to three months and can be optimally maintained.
Stem cell hair restoration uses stem cells that can be extracted from your body’s adipose tissue or obtained via donated umbilical stem cells from C-section deliveries.
During stem cell hair restoration, a mini-liposuction procedure can be performed and the fat extracted can be used to produce stem cells. Once isolated, the stem cells are injected into the areas of your scalp affected by hair loss, where they jump into action restoring the damaged or dormant hair follicles and regenerating hair growth. The entire stem cell hair restoration appointment generally takes just two or three hours.
Both PRP and stem cell hair restoration have been shown to be safe when conducted by a trusted, licensed physician in a sterile medical environment. Downtime is minimal after treatments and there is no scarring, rendering them visibly undetectable to others.
While both stem cell and PRP hair restoration typically require multiple sessions, the total cost is generally far less than that of traditional hair transplant surgery, which can be expensive, time consuming, painful and, if done incorrectly, painfully obvious. Most important, unlike surgery, PRP and stem cell hair restoration stop further hair loss and lead to natural, new hair growth in up to 80% of patients.