Losing Your Hair?
Hair-Transplant Surgery continued...
Not every woman is a good candidate for surgery, however.
"The problem is that women need to have an area to get the donor hair
from," says Greene, who performs hair transplants on women. But because
female pattern baldness tends to be diffuse, in many cases the back of the head
is often no better than the top or the sides, he says.
"Transplants really are a last resort," says Sawaya.
"I recommend that women try more conservative treatments first."
Doctors who push a patient toward transplants may have a financial motivation.
"Hair transplants are a money maker," Sawaya says.
Both Greene and Sawaya agree that skill and training level from
doctor to doctor can vary greatly. For that reason Sawaya recommends that women
ask about training, the number of surgeries the doctor has performed on female
patients, and rates of success. Even better, talk to a few former patients and
see the results in person before agreeing to surgery.
Women should be wary of products that claim to stimulate the
scalp, unblock pores, or produce overnight results, says Greene. These products
may even provide elaborate pseudo-scientific research to prove they work. But
if the FDA hasn't proven them effective, they probably can't stand up to real
medical scrutiny, says Sawaya. Save your money.
If you're not game for prescription medications, or surgery, or
if you just want to add to the hair you've got, you also can experiment with
cosmetic accessories and styles. Tracy, now 43, has used minoxidil for 16
years. She tried a hair weave, where artificial hair is added to existing hair,
as part of a makeover. And while she was happy with her hair before the weave,
she notices a real difference in the way people respond to her with a full head
of thick, auburn hair.
While Tracy doesn't plan to keep the weave -- which requires
maintenance every four weeks and can damage the natural hair -- it inspired her
to look into other hair augmentation products like wefts (small hairpieces that
cover the crown of the head) and falls (hair attached to combs or clips).
"Hollywood stars have secretly been using these products for years,"
she says. "I don't see why we shouldn't be!"
Tracy's final message to women is this: Get treatment if the
hair loss bothers you. "Whether you lose 5% of your hair or 55%, it can be
devastating. But you don't have to just let it happen -- especially not