Does hair transplant surgery really work for women with hair loss?
The short answer is, yes.
Hair transplant surgery is an excellent option for many women who suffer from hair loss. Although there are some women who are not great candidates, there are many more who will benefit from female hair transplant surgery. Patients should be evaluated prior to deciding to proceed with hair transplant surgery to be certain they are good candidates. In some cases blood tests or a biopsy may be advisable. It is also important to understand the timing of the hair loss and events or medications which may have precipitated the hair loss. Sometimes the issue will resolve on its own – and surgery would actually be unadvisable.
The vast majority of women with androgenetic hair loss (Female Patterned Alopecia) have an area on their scalp which is largely unaffected, or much less affected by alopecia. This region is called the donor area. In women, the donor area is usually found in the back of the head (the occipital region) and between the ears. This area provides a limited number of follicles which have receptors much less sensitive to the process of androgenetic alopecia. The hair from this area can be re-distributed into areas of significant cosmetic concern. There are some more common areas of greatest cosmetic concern for most women including the hairline zone, the temple regions or the part-line. Hair can be transplanted from the donor areas into these regions to provide a long-lasting improvement in density.
The surgery lasts most of the day and a good surgeon is able to keep their patient very comfortable throughout the procedure. After the surgery the patient is given pain medication to take as needed. It is usually recommended that patients give themselves 7-10 days off work and social activities if they want the procedure to remain confidential and undetectable. Three to four months after surgery the hair begins growing. At 6-7 months after surgery the patient has a good idea of what is going to be growing in. The final result of the hair transplant surgery is appreciated at 12-18 months after surgery.
Ideally female hair transplant surgery is not done in isolation. Patients should be counseled regarding other methods to help slow the future hair loss – in order to increase the likelihood that the gains achieved by surgery can be enjoyed for many years to come. If surgery replaces lost hair, but hair loss continues to affect the pre-existing hair at the same pace as before surgery, the patient will feel the improvement is not as long lasting as she had hoped. This is not because the transplant falls out – but the pre-existing hair goes through the normal cycle of loss. Female pattern hair loss can be treated with a number of modalities. Depending on the patient’s underlying conditions and sensitivities, these non-surgical hair loss treatments may include minoxidil, spirinolactone, birth control medication, finasteride, special shampoos, vitamins or PRP treatment (platelet rich plasma).
As an important extra note, there are certain autoimmune diseases on the rise that may cause alopecia and affect all hair regardless of whether it is transplanted or in its native location. It is important to be properly evaluated by a specialist and be treated quickly if this occurs.