Female Hair Loss in Numbers
Over the course of my life, my hair has always been one of my own favourite feel-good features about myself, the thick curly wiry Mediterranean crown that I one cursed as a teenager, metamorphosed itself through adolescence into adulthood into a crowning glory of relaxed long wavy dark tresses.
My hair has always been my security blanket to hide behind when everything else wasn’t feeling and looking so great on the outside. I could wear a simple plain black dress but my hair did the talking, the glamour, the style and the sexiness. I tried to give it the best care I could, but I am sure there has been a reasonable amount of wear and tear clocked up in twenty years, mostly owed to colour changes, and styling tools.
Seeing my hair in a plug hole after a shower is not something I am unaccustomed to, but lately, I have become a little bit more obsessive about that once taken for granted shedding in the shower. I have found myself fishing it out carefully from the plug, sometimes a little too obsessively where I have resembled the character Gollum from Lord of Rings, woefully stating ‘my precious’, as I realize subconsciously, I don’t want to lose anymore hair, and I constantly seem to ask myself: why am I losing so much?
In a bid to rescue my own crown of glory, and my mental sanity, I set about finding some answers for me, and for any woman currently obsessing over the amount of hair she is shedding daily.
It seems I am not alone, 1 in 5 women will suffer from hair loss or reduced hair volume in their lifetime and these numbers double by the age of 40.
The most common signs of hair loss are:
- Reduced hair volume
- Gradual thinning on the front and top of the head
In contrast to Male Hair Loss, women can lose their hair due to a range of factors such as the use of certain medication and hormonal imbalances i.e. women suffering Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, during pregnancy and while in menopause. In these cases, hormone regulated hair follicles which are distributed all over the head are the ones affected and hence, hair becomes thinner all over resulting in diffuse hair loss.
The most common causes of diffuse hair loss are:
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Use of contraceptives
- Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
- Iron deficiency/anemia
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
However there are other reasons, from diet and lifestyle to traction alopecia caused by wearing your hair in a pony tale too tightly pulled back. Genetic Female Hair Loss (androgenetic alopecia) can be an issue at any age after puberty; however it can be seen most commonly in women between the ages of 40 and 50 years. The most common sign is thinning on the top of the head with hairline retention.
London based, Founder of DHI Global, Kostas Giotis, told me that “Thick, lush and healthy hair is one of the most important features in a woman’s appearance, contributing to her style, her image and of course her self-esteem. Hair loss is not just a matter of external beauty but also a matter of a woman’s psyche. The loss of up to 100 hairs per day or hair shedding is considered normal and can be due to a number of reasons, however, when the number of hairs lost daily significantly increases, then this needs to be investigated in order to determine the causes and to get the best hair loss therapy implemented for long term results.”
I pondered the question: Are women brave enough to come forward and seek those solutions or is hair loss amongst women just too taboo to talk about? According to UK hair replacement surgeon Bessam Farjo from the Farjo Hair Institute, the answer is yes.
“There is definitely an increase in women reporting hair loss problems, it is definitely not a taboo subject and many women including celebrities and well known public figures have at some point in their life experienced, a hair loss or hair health concern, the increase is most likely due to awareness of what can be done, and women are standing up to the reality that you no longer have to accept the hand that you are dealt with and there are options.”
It seems that the best steps to find the right replacement hinges on getting an accurate and detailed diagnosis of what is causing the hair loss, If you are thinking about reaching for a solution based on your own research or a glossy advert that promises thicker fuller hair in just 30 days with the pop a pill think again says Kostas Giotis, “I advise anyone considering treatments for hair replacement whether it be an oral medication, shampoo, or a full hair transplant, to please ensure that the clinic first and foremost offers you detailed consultation with a full medical history followed by tests, where required, so that an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan is tailored to you, there is no one fit solution for all – it is very individual.”
These innovative therapies are:
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) – Hair follicle straightening and hair growth stimulation
PRP therapy can be used to maintain and stimulate existing hair growth as well as develop new hair from follicles that have stopped producing hairs or produced small diameter hairs.
With PRP, our own platelet-rich plasma is poured into the scalp to strengthen and stimulate hair follicles, stimulate the skin and prolong the regenerative phase of the hair. PRP therapy only takes a few minutes and can be done regularly.
Hair Transplant Surgery
Hair transplant surgery involves the transplantation of individual, healthy hair follicles from the back of the head (usually not affected by hair loss) in the area where thinning occurs. The hair follicle is extracted and then positioned by implanting it into the area needed, the hair follicle is put back into the scalp in such a specific direction, and depth, with the right amount of tilt to achieve 100% natural effect and maximum growth. Healthy, implanted hair follicles continue to develop after implantation, for a long-term results, and with no further loss expected. It is very skillful procedure and requires a hair transplant surgeon with knowledge, and experience.
With the emergence of hair transplant surgery becoming more and more popular, a number of clinics and business activities offering this service has mushroomed over the last decade, a quick Google search under the words ‘hair replacement clinics’, brought up over a staggering 13 million results.
Hair Replacement Surgeon, Bessam Farjo issues a word of warning: “The hair replacement surgery industry is largely unregulated, if you are considering a hair transplant, please think carefully, and do your research.” Wise words.
Whilst surgery is an option available to women, it is not as common for women to have hair transplant surgery as it is for men, as women experienced hair loss and thinning in a completely different way to men.
At The Belgravia Clinic in London, they believe that other less invasive options prove more successful for women: “We have found that treating female hair loss clients with personalized treatment plans based around appropriate formulations of high strength Minoxidil can produce encouraging results.
Minoxidil is the only clinically-proven treatment for both male and female pattern hair loss and it can be used in conjunction with various Hair Growth Boosters to provide an integrated approach to preventing further shedding and promoting regrowth as well as improving the overall condition and health of the hair.”
Scalp Micropigmentation is a highly advanced method of cosmetic pigmentation. Scalp Micropigmentation is not a tattoo. It is applied mainly in the area of hair thinning, amongst the existing hairs, in the form of small spots or lines, with a non-toxic dye, in the colour of natural hair, giving instantly the perception of denser hair. It is ideal for instantly increasing hair density and can even be used on eyebrows to restore shape.
Harley Street Based, Leading Permanent Make-up Artist, Karen Betts says: “Scalp Micropigmentation is perfect if you are a woman who has hair thinning on the top, or across the crown section of your head, I have treated many female alopecia and post surgery scar clients, and the result are life changing and amazing.”
However new and exciting therapies continue to expand and develop and provide fresh solutions for hair replacements therapy: Bessam Farjo says, “PRP (platelet rich plasma therapy) and low level laser therapy have become popular recently in that they are reasonably safe and can ‘rejuvenate’ existing thin hair if you still have enough of it.”
I’m comfortably reassured by the hair replacement experts I have got to know whilst researching this article, that I’m not a candidate for hair transplant surgery, and that my hair loss is due to my diet, stress, and some hormonal changes, so I’m looking forward to implementing the advice I have been given and learning to accept that your hair health really does say a lot about what is going on inside you, so next time you think you are having a bad hair day, it might just be your body talking to you on a deeper level.
Antonia Mariconda is a London based author, writer and digital Influencer. Voted one of the top 10 influencers in the world by Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Antonia has appeared extensively in UK and International media for her hard hitting, no nonsense approach to coaching the facts from fiction for all things Aesthetic and Beauty. Antonia is also well known for being the founder of a UK national campaign called #SafetyInBeauty helping victims of botched aesthetic or beauty interventions. In addition to her media career, Antonia is also a qualified body image counsellor.