While supermodel Alec Wek may have made a whole high-fashion career out of her unique look, long legs and bald head, and Samantha Jones on Sex and the City, pulled off her wig in a statement of women’s solidarity, after being treated with chemotherapy, most women cannot pull off that ‘Mr. Clean’ look and do not want to.
A clean shaven head may be sexy on a man – think Michael Jordan or the original bald celebrity – Yul Brynner. But, a bald woman? Mrs. Clean? Think again.
Hair loss in women is a not uncommon problem, affecting approximately 20% of the population, and one that is not as much discussed as hair loss in men.
Women lose hair for various reasons including: heredity, hypothyroidism, hormone fluctuations, illness, or like Samantha Jones, chemotherapy. Women’s hair loss occurs all-over the scalp and may not be as obvious as hair loss in men.
How do you know if you’re experiencing hair loss?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people lose anywhere from 50 – 100 strands of hair each day. When is it extreme and a cause for concern?
One way to tell is if there is there an unusually large amount of hair on your pillow when you wake up in the morning. Or, excessive hair in your brush when you brush your hair. Has your scalp become more visible through your hair? Does your part appear to be wider than before?
These are all visual cues that you may be losing your hair in excess.
According to the International Society Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), losing hair for women may be more psychologically damaging than for a man.
“Women, more than men, have a significant psychological investment in their appearance, and are likely to react more negatively to events such as hair loss… “
Nigel Hunt and Sue McHale writing in the 2005 British Medical Journal observed, “Femininity, sexuality, attractiveness, and personality are symbolically linked to a woman’s hair, more so than for a man. Hair loss can therefore seriously affect self- esteem and body image. “
After all, a woman’s hair is her crowning glory.
If you are concerned about excessive hair loss, it may be time to consult a dermatologist and undergo testing to determine whether you have an underlying medical condition.
If so, you need to be treated. Understand your treatment options and choose the best protocol for your condition.
Realize that often hair loss is a temporary condition and will grow back, once the fundamental medical condition has been treated.
If no underlying medical condition is found, a woman may want to explore both options for surgical remedies such as a hair transplant and non-surgical remedies such as wigs, hair weaves, extensions or hair pieces.
Minoxidil can be used as part of a plan of action to prevent additional hair loss. Unlike Propecia, it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in women.
If surgery is chosen, according to the ISHRS, the combination of surgical hair restoration and medical treatments provides the most satisfying result.
Discuss and create a plan with your physician for long-term cosmetic enhancement. Ask, what are the realistic expectations for both short-term and long-term outcomes of hair transplantation?
Be cognizant of the fact that if you are experiencing progressive hair loss, one procedure may not be the be-all-and-end-all.
If you have a family history of hair loss, this may indicate what is to come and should be taken into consideration when considering a hair transplant or other surgical options.
Whatever road you choose, there are many viable cosmetic options available to restore hair and there is no reason to accept hair loss as your fate, unless you want to dress in the latest Roberto Cavalli, careen down the catwalk on 6″ stilettos and give Alec Wek a run for her money.