How Society Sees Baldness in Women
What do Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, and Sean Connery all have in common? Other than all being rich and famous that is. Every one of these men is bald and is right in the center of the limelight of Hollywood media. None of them are ashamed or try to hide their hair loss behind wigs and hats. Well, Sam Jackson wears hats but that is likely more of a fashion choice than because of his hair loss. We doubt that guy doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about other people’s opinions.
Now ask yourself, how many bald female actors can you name. And not women actors who went bald for a role, we are talking about women affected by hair loss who are bald. The only one that comes to mind is Jada Pinket Smith and her recently announced diagnosis with Alopecia Areata. Otherwise, we’re stumped. This is because baldness in women is not something that Hollywood is going to put on the big screen.
However, you may even be surprised to learn that baldness in women is almost as common as it is in men. It is estimated that nearly 50% of all women will experience hair loss at some point in their lives. Typically, hair loss begins after menopause, but the condition androgenetic alopecia can happen to women at any age.
Female Balding and Hairloss Stigmas
The stigma attached to women and hair loss is such that when women do begin to go bald, they will go to great lengths to try to hide it from the world. You won’t see a bald woman playing the main role in a movie, running for political office, or even forecasting the weather. Not in America and not really in any other large culture in the world.
There are many reasons that a woman will begin to lose her hair. Isolating the extract cause of the hair loss is an important step to determine what kind of treatment is available. Due to the world’s view of baldness in women, getting immediate treatment is vital.
The Different Causes of Female Hair Loss
Androgenic Alopecia Causes Baldness in Women
One of the most common causes of hair loss in both men and women is known as androgenetic alopecia, or male and female pattern hair loss. It is referred to as “pattern” baldness because it nearly always manifests in a similar pattern for both men and women. In men, it begins at the hairline near the temples and recedes back from the front of the scalp. In women androgenetic alopecia manifests as a general, overall thinning of the hair, which is most noticeable at the part of the hair.
The cause of androgenetic alopecia is similar, but not the same in women as it is in men. There are genetic factors that come into play, as androgenetic alopecia can be passed down in both maternal and paternal genes. However, it is the body’s production, as well as how the body processes a group of hormones called androgens that plays a critical role in androgenetic alopecia.
Androgens & Female Hair Loss
Androgens are sex-related hormones that are produced by the human body, which increase at puberty. Normal androgen function is responsible for proper bone density, muscle mass, and body hair growth. Androgens have also been discovered to influence a person’s sex drive and sexual function as well.
For many years doctors and researchers were baffled when women would display every sign and symptom of androgenetic alopecia but would not test for elevated levels of androgens in their systems. This prompted researchers to refer to this type of baldness in women as “female pattern baldness” instead of androgenetic alopecia for some time.
Testosterone’s Role in Hair Loss and Balding
Testosterone is the most common hair loss androgen influencing hair loss in men and women. It’s not the testosterone itself that causes androgenetic alopecia, but an androgen that testosterone converts into called dihydrotestosterone. About 10% of testosterone created by the body will convert into dihydrotestosterone. (Alsantali & Shapiro, 2009)
Men produce much more testosterone than women, which is why they experience hair loss more frequently. Androgenetic alopecia in men is normally due to them producing too much testosterone, and therefore, too much dihydrotestosterone. The dihydrotestosterone attaches itself to the androgen receptors in the hair follicles with causes them to shorten the growing phase of their growth cycle. This process, over time, causes the hair follicle to shrink and underperform which leads to pattern hair loss. (Sinclair, 1998)
It was then discovered that the women who did not have high levels of androgens in their systems yet were still affected by androgenetic alopecia were found to have higher levels of 5α-reductase (which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone), more androgen receptors, and lower levels of cytochrome P450 (which converts testosterone to estrogen). (Drake LA, 1996)
Alopecia Areata Causes Severe Baldness in Women
Another cause of female hair loss is known as alopecia areata. This form of alopecia causes hair to fall out in round & oval patches along the scalp, and sometimes all over the body. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder where the white blood cells mistake the cells of a person’s hair follicles as a foreign invader to the body, and then attack the cells, causing the follicles to enter prematurely into the resting phase of the growth cycle. (Wasserman, 2007)
Telogen Effluvium & Female Hairloss
A form of female hair loss that most women will experience in their lives is called telogen effluvium. Fortunately, this form of hair loss is temporary and is caused by stress, shock, or a traumatic event. In both men and women, telogen effluvium will cause a case of diffuse hair loss, similar to the effects of androgenetic alopecia in women.
In women, the most common cause of telogen effluvium is childbirth. During pregnancy, more hair is in the growth phase for longer. Hormonal changes that occur 3 to 6 months after birth can cause hair to shed. This is called post-partum telogen effluvium. There are other causes of this condition such as poor diet that leads to deficiencies in key nutrients that hair follicles need to thrive, such as protein, iron, B-vitamins, and zinc. Other triggers for telogen effluvium are sudden weight loss, surgery, stress, and menopause. (Lewin, 2018)
Best Non-Surgical Treatments for Baldness in Women
Minoxidil May Help Treat Balding in Women
Because hair loss manifests differently in women than it does in men, the initially suggested treatments may differ as well. For instance, studies have shown that since women experience diffuse hair loss when affected by androgenetic alopecia, minoxidil (Rogaine) has been shown to be more effective for women than for men who suffered a receding hairline from the condition.
A 48-week study in 2004, showed that out of 281 women, 5% topical minoxidil was superior to placebo in hair growth, increasing hair thickness and an increase of hair count. This study also showed that the 5% minoxidil was superior to the regular 2% strength as well. (Lucky, 2004)
The issue with minoxidil, along with other hair loss drugs like Finasteride (Propecia), is that you must continue using the drugs in order to keep the increased hair count and density. If you stop using them, you will normally lose all the hair that was grown as a result of using the drug. Also, there are some side effects that come along with the drugs that you would want to speak to your doctor about before starting them.
Spironolactone for Baldness
Prescription spironolactone pills have been used as a treatment for hair loss in women. Spironolactone has been shown to bind to androgen receptors and decrease the body’s processing of testosterone. The FDA has not cleared spironolactone as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia as the drug is normally used to reduce swelling from liver disease and nephrotic syndrome (a kidney problem). It’s also used to treat high blood pressure, heart failure, and hyperaldosteronism (excessive secretion of the hormone aldosterone). In fact, there are researchers that believe the drug is not effective for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in women at all. (THIEDKE, 2003)
Corticosteroid injections have been shown to treat women suffering from alopecia areata. These injections assist the body’s ability to modulate the immune system. Additionally, they may lower inflammation at the site of the injections. Corticosteroid injections also work to prevent the immune system from attacking the cells of the hair follicles, which will delay and stop hair loss from occurring. (THIEDKE, 2003)
Capillus Lasercap LLLT Therapy
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is a process that involves low-level lasers, also known as “cold lasers,” because they emit no heat, to stimulate the cells in underperforming hair follicles into entering the growth phase of the hair follicles’ growth cycle. This technology was discovered by a fellow named Endre Mester in 1967 when he employed a light from a ruby, in an attempt to shrink cancerous tumors in rats. Mester failed to cure any tumors but did notice a large amount of spontaneous hair growth on the rats in his study.
Studies have shown that LLLT therapy is a great way to increase hair count in both men and women as well as increase hair density. Researchers found that LLLT is an effective option to treat pattern baldness and it is well used in combination with other hair loss treatments such as hair transplant surgery. (Jimenez, 2014)
PRP Injections for Balding Women
Another treatment for baldness in women that has become increasingly popular recently is a process called Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. PRP involves a doctor drawing some blood from the patient to receive the therapy, then running the sample through a centrifuge. A centrifuge separates all of the components of the blood from each other, allowing the doctor to collect the layer of plasma that is packed with platelets, into a syringe. Finally, we inject the plasma into the area of the thin or bald area of the scalp.
This whole process is minimally invasive and only takes about 10 minutes to complete. The patient will have to get monthly injections for about 3 months, then only one or so every 3 to 6 months for the PRP to be effective, although there are more aggressive treatment options involving several sessions in a 4-to-6-week period.
Studies have shown that PRP is a safe option and a “cost-effective and feasible treatment option for androgenic alopecia, with high overall patient satisfaction.” (Khatu, 2014)
The Best Surgical Options for Treating Hair Loss in Women
Most often a hair transplant surgery will be the last option when it comes to treating hair loss. There is still a lot of misinformation out there about how painful and invasive a hair transplant is. This is because back when hair transplants were first performed in the United States, they were painful and invasive. However, that is no longer the case today. The scientific and technological advances in the hair transplant industry make modern-day hair transplants as painless and non-invasive as possible.
Follicular Unit Transplants for Women Balding
The two most popular and common methods of hair transplants are the Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) technique and the Follicular Unit Extraction method. Both methods produce a very natural-looking result after the completion of the procedure and recovery from the surgery.
The FUT technique involves the surgeon extracting a whole “strip” of hair-bearing tissue from the selected donor area of the scalp, normally along the rear base of the skull. Then we suture the scalp back together. Next, the doctor separates individual hair follicles from the strip for implantation. Finally, we create tiny incisions in the “recipient area” of the scalp and implant the hair follicles.
Follicular Unit Excision to Stop Female Balding
The FUE hair transplant has become the more popular option for hair transplant surgery over the last few years. With the FUE process, each individual hair follicle is extracted from the donor area of the scalp instead of in a strip, like the FUT method. The FUE transplant is a sutureless procedure but takes longer to perform than FUT. The implantation phase of the FUE process is similar to FUT after the follicles have been extracted.
The FUT harvesting method leaves a large linear scar along the donor area. A skilled surgeon can hide this scar. However, choosing unskilled surgeons for FUT deliver long, permanent, visible scars that last forever. With the FUE process, there will sometimes be small, dot-like scars from the follicle harvesting that are less apparent, even with a short haircut. The FUE process also involves less post-procedure discomfort than the FUT surgery.
Generally, the FUE hair transplant will be the best option for women due to the diffuse hair loss symptom of alopecia. Using FUE, a surgeon will be able to be more precise with the extraction and implantation phases, to create a fuller look of the thinning hair. Ultimately it will be up to the patient whether FUE or FUT will be best for their hair loss needs.
Best Hair Transplant Los Angeles Treats Baldness in Women
Here at Best Hair Transplant Los Angeles, we understand baldness in women and its causes. We have many past female patients who have come to us looking for help. Our FUE clinic in the Los Angeles area offers the highest quality FUE hair transplant procedures for the most affordable price you will find in the area.
Call us today and start your journey to getting back that full head of thick hair and the confidence that goes along with it. Your first meeting with our doctors is completely free.
Affordable Los Angeles Hair Transplants
Best Hair Transplant is the best place to schedule your hair transplant in Los Angeles. We’ve helped both men and women regrow their lost hair. But don’t take our word for it. We suggest learning as much as possible about hair restoration. Do so prior to making a decision on how to address your hair loss. Not every procedure is right for everyone.
At Best Hair Transplant, we’re proud of our results and happy to provide hair restoration services. Additionally, we’re proud to make hair transplants affordable and help you save money on a variety of hair transplants. To ensure your ease of mind, you can view our customer recommendations HERE. Furthermore, you can also see our Google reviews and Yelp reviews. We can’t wait to help you start restoring your lost hair.
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- Alsantali, A., & Shapiro, J. (2009). Androgens and hair loss. Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity.
- Drake LA, D. S. (1996). Guidelines of care for androgenetic alopecia. American Academy of Dermatology.
- Jimenez, J. J. (2014). Efficacy and Safety of a Low-level Laser Device in the Treatment of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Multicenter, Randomized, Sham Device-controlled, Double-blind Study. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology.
- Khatu, S. S. (2014). Platelet-Rich Plasma in Androgenic Alopecia: Myth or an Effective Tool. Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery.
- Lewin, J. (2018). Is telogen effluvium reversible? Retrieved from Medical News Today.
- Lucky, A. W. (2004). A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 5% and 2% topical minoxidil solutions in the treatment of female pattern hair loss. The Journal of American Academy of Dermatology.
- Sinclair, R. (1998). Male pattern androgenetic alopecia. Fortnightly review.
- THIEDKE, C. C. (2003). Alopecia in Women. American Family Physician.
- Wasserman, D. (2007). Alopecia areata. International Journal of Dermatology.