Hair Loss Treatment for Women

Phoenix Women Magazine

By Yvonne Marchese

June 2009

When Charlene Tatz was in high school, she learned that becoming the class clown was the best defense mechanism to her thinning hair dilemma, which may have been linked to an early bout of ringworm. Charlene is not alone. It is estimated that half of women in the United States will suffer some form of hair loss during their lifetimes.

For many women, this loss of their “crowning glory” can translate into a nearly unspeakable sadness and loss of self-esteem, especially as the message all around us is that a full, healthy head of hair is linked with femininity and sex appeal.

Dave McKenna, image consultant for National Hair Centers, a hair restoration center in Phoenix, says there are actually many causes for women’s hair loss. While the most common causes are genetic, he says, “Issues such as stress, medication, birth control pills, hygiene, environment, age, menopause, weight loss, hormonal imbalances and thyroid are all contributing factors.” And, of course, with chemotherapy, most women lose all their hair.

Charlene struggled through her teenage years with ever-increasing hair loss, which initially manifested as very fine and limp hair. Attempts to make it look fuller and thicker failed miserably. “I tried perms, rollers, picking it out, hair spray…but within 30 minutes, I was right back where I started.” Some relief came for Charlene with the development of her womanly curves, which shifted the boys’ attention from her hair.

“My hair never really fit,” she recalls. “I was beautiful…from the neck down.” She coped with her embarrassment and humiliation by becoming the butt of her own jokes, making self-demeaning comments such as, “Don’t take a picture of my head because it will ruin the picture.”

Charlene admits that she suffered through a range of emotions. “I felt sad, discouraged, aggravated, pissed! I never felt like I was pretty.” After scorching her hair with a bad perm, she turned to wigs but found them uncomfortable. Charlene also feared that they would “get caught in a man’s button and come off.”

A lifetime of shame came to an abrupt end 12 years ago when Charlene saw a television commercial for hair restoration. “There was a woman riding in a convertible, her hair flowing in the wind. I wanted to be her!” she remembers. She called the hair restoration clinic the same day. Today, Charlene is strikingly beautiful at 69 years young, and she has left all those youthful insecurities behind.

TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY

The technologies available in hair restoration today are a world apart from the plugs, cookie cutter nylon wigs, bad toupees and spray on hair that once represented the industry. McKenna says there are a variety of solutions for women, depending on their lifestyles and the degree of hair loss. These options are broken down into three basic categories: non-surgical hair replacement, retention alternatives and hair transplants.

Non-Surgical: There are many options, however, the most technologically advanced is a top-of-the-line, custom designed prosthetic that acts like an eighth layer of skin, with individual hairs injected strand by strand.

Retention: There are three scientifically proven and FDA approved solutions to help with hair loss: Propecia, Rogaine and the most common, laser treatments. Propecia and Rogaine are effective in stopping hair loss in the crown area, but re-growth statistics are significantly low, especially in the temple and hairline areas.

Laser treatments: stop hair loss and thicken the hair in all areas of the head; however, not everyone is a candidate for this treatment. Hair follicles are necessary to re-grow hair, so someone who is completely bald would not benefit from this solution.

Hair Transplants: During hair transplant surgery, hair is taken from the back of the head and transferred microscopically to the front. Most women are not candidates for transplants because they lose their hair differently than men. While men tend to lose hair on the top of the head and in the crown, leaving good “donor” hair in the back, women’s hair loss is generally more diffused over the entire head. Frequently, there is no good donor area available for transplantation.

Charlene opted for weaves woven into her existing hair for many years, but as hair restoration systems became more sophisticated, she graduated into a SensiGraft Hair System that adheres to the scalp with surgical adhesive and remains in place for up to six weeks.