Hair Loss in Women: Causes and Treatments
Did you know that over 40% of women are dealing with some form of hair loss? What to do about it? If you are like me, we often ask friends, hairdressers, and others in the know about how to address this frustrating problem. In addition, many experiment with different supplements and those “over the counter” products that flood the airwaves, only to experience disappointing outcomes.
However, it was not until I met Dr. Benjamin Paul, a world renown hair transplant surgeon and Director of HairCareMD, that I felt confident in understanding the different causes of hair loss and the medical and surgical treatments that are available. Dr. Paul was a recent popular speaker at our annual Renewal Summit and has graciously shared his take on the options available to both women and men at his NYC office. (You can watch that panel here: https://youtu.be/S9fxoqmepsM Additional info is at his website, www.haircaremd.com with before and after photos. Here’s to the well-known quotation that hair indeed is a “woman’s crowning glory!”
Hair Loss in Women: Causes and Treatments
By Dr. Benjamin Paul
Almost everyone can picture a bald uncle, but a bald aunt is not something that easily comes to mind. Our society has turned a blind eye to a relatively common issue, hair loss in women. It turns out that up to 40% of women suffer hair loss over a lifetime. Women tend to express hair loss differently than men due to genetic and hormonal differences. The psychological impact of hair loss in women has been shown to be profound, affecting both self-esteem and quality of life. Fortunately, there have been great strides made to better diagnose the cause of hair loss and tailor the best treatment for women. By understanding the underlying the reasons and their respective treatment options, women can make informed decisions about managing and preventing further hair loss.
Common Causes of Hair Loss in Women:
- Androgenic Alopecia: Also known as Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL), this is the most common form of hair loss in women. Visually, the part widens in the hair though the hairline is maintained. Genetics and hormonal sensitivity lead patients to see their hairs thin, shed, and stop growing. Thinning of the hair is a result of a sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that is converted from testosterone.
- Telogen Effluvium: Also known as shock loss, this form of hair loss usually follows a trigger and leads to a disruption of the hair growth cycle. Triggers can include weight loss, surgery, stress, emotional stress(a break up, loss of a job, or loss of a loved one), severe illness (such as Covid), and nutritional deficiency. Patients usually see shedding 3 months after the trigger. If the trigger is removed, the shedding will stop and patients see regrowth. For most patients, telogen effluvium is temporary but it can recur.
- Hormonal Imbalance: Fluctuations in hormones due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause or certain medical conditions can lead to hair shedding.
- Nutritional deficiency: Many vitamins and nutrients are required for proper hair growth. A deficiency in iron, zinc, vit D, and biotin can all lead to hair loss. A balanced diet is crucial fr maintaining healthy hair.
- Traction alopecia: Your hair style should never hurt. A tight braid worn over long periods of time can lead to traction injury from excessive pulling on the hair follicle. This can lead to scarring and permanent hair loss.
Treatment of Hair Loss in Women:
The majority of treatment options in women focus on providing the hair follicle signals to grow better. In essence, these treatments are like fertilizer for the garden. They work when you use them, but they are not bringing a permanent change. Examples of these medical treatments include vitamins, topical medications, oral medications, light therapy and platelet rich plasma treatment. On the other hand, there is one treatment option that provides a permanent change, and this is hair transplant. Women were once thought not be candidates; however, as the procedure has advanced from plugs to single hairs, many women are eligible and would greatly benefit from this modern technique. Many women will choose to do both medical and surgical therapy as they provide different benefits and are complementary. Here are the most popular treatments for women’s hair loss in more depth:
- Topical minoxidil 5%: This topical should be applied twice a day to see optimal results. The product comes as a liquid and as a foam, though only the foam is FDA approved for women. Minoxidil extends the hair growth phase of hair follicles and improves blood flow to the scalp. It takes many months to see results, and some patients may see shedding in the first few months after starting. Topical minoxidil does not require a prescription.
- Prescription medicines: There are many medicines that a physician may choose to prescribe to help women with hair loss. Each has a different role in hair restoration and different side effects. The common choices include oral minoxidil, oral spironolactone, oral finasteride, and birth control.
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy: PRP involves isolating a patient’s own growth factors and using them to improve hair growth and scalp health. This therapy involves a blood draw in the office, centrifugation, processing to isolate the platelets, and activation to release growth factors that are stored within the platelets. The PRP solution is injected by a clinician into sites of hair thinning. The results can last up to 6 months. This is an excellent treatment to help reduce shedding.”. PRP is beloved by patients because it is abundantly safe as we are using the patient’s own blood without foreign additives. There is no risk of allergy, rejection, or viral transmission. The entire procedure takes 25-30 minutes, and there is no downtime. Patients consider this a “lunchtime procedure.
- Hair Transplantation: Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure to transfer hair from the donor area (often the back of the scalp) to a region of thinning. The procedure is performed in one day often under local anesthesia. Patients may work from home the next day. The result from a hair transplant is permanent and does not require long term medication to work.
Understanding the case and exploring the treatment options empowers women to take control of their hair health. With advancements in medical science, there are effective options to help women address hair loss and help women regain confidence in their appearance. If you would like to learn more about the various treatment options and benefits, I would encourage you to visit www.haircaremd.com or visit with your local hair restoration physician.
One year after hair transplant to fix the frontal hair and hairline by Dr. Benjamin Paul at www.haircaremd.com
By Benjamin Paul MD
Surgeon director at HairCareMD www.haircaremd.com
225 E64th St, NY NY 10065 | 2128328595
Anne brings a wealth of knowledge to her role as The Three Tomatoes’ Beauty, Health and Wellness Editor. As a champion of health and well-being for all, she is the Founder/Publisher of GLOW Beauty, Health and Wellness magazine; previous Founder of Castle Connolly Graduate Medical Publishing, publishing educational review manuals for doctors to pass their board exams in 15 different medical specialties and co-Founder of MDPublish.com, publishing and marketing books for health professionals. A winner of the SMART CEO award for "entrepreneurial spirit with a sense of give back to the community," Anne sits on many Boards for women's health, with a particular passion for Veterans and her current
role as Special Advisor to Operation Warrior Shield, "healing their hidden wounds". www.operationwarriorshield.com.