Hair loss can be devastating for men, but even more so for women. A lush head of hair reflects both attractiveness and youth for both genders.
Significant hair loss occurs in 65 percent of women by the age of 60 and in 40 percent of men by 35 years old. Hair loss affects about 35 million men and 21 million women in the United States alone. Fortunately, between minor surgery and medications, the vast majority of balding people can be effectively treated.
Unlike men with male pattern baldness, which we are all familiar with, women have thinning on the top of their heads as in the shape of a bowl placed on their heads.
With women, the problem might stem from hormonal issues such as too much or too little thyroid hormone or hormone changes that occur during menopause. Hormones should be checked prior to any surgical transplants.
With men, the best treatment is NeoGraft, an automated FUE (follicular unit extraction) technique because it leaves no visible scar on the back of the scalp.
Women often have long hair, which covers such a linear scar, so the strip technology might be preferred. Those women with short hair can have either NeoGraft technology or strip.
Whereas there are no sutures with the NeoGraft, sutures are used with the strip removal. Both procedures are done under local anesthesia.
The result, when skillfully done, is completely natural. By far the skill and experience of the technicians are the most important factors in hair transplant surgery.
The recipient site must be designed and the grafts placed in the proper direction to achieve a completely natural appearance, which is undetectable as anything but natural hair growth.
An additional and new treatment for hair loss is scalp injections of PRP (protein rich plasma). This process concentrates growth factors from the platelets in one's own blood. The body uses these factors to repair damage, and the result has been increased hair growth in thinning and balding areas of the scalp.
PRP can be performed alone or in combination with hair transplant. Encouraging results are being reported.
Medications, such a topical Rogaine (Minoxidil) will aid in slowing the loss of existing hair as does the oral medication Propecia (finasteride) and might thicken hair.
When the hair transplant grafts are taken from areas genetically coded to not fall out, (the back of the head), the grafted hair growth usually lasts for decades, if not a lifetime. Thus one might consider hair transplant a lifetime investment.
- Ronald Finger, MD, FACS is a board certified plastic surgeon with offices in Savannah and Bluffton. www.fingerand associates.com