Can Women Get Hair Transplants?
We wake up some mornings, look at the mirror, and decide to leave our hair open, confident of earning ourselves a good deal of swank. And then there are mornings where our defiant hair forces us to tie it into a tight ponytail or perhaps even a bun.
As shallow as it may seem, it is a fact that good hair raises self-esteem and gives us confidence. Thinning patches or regional balding is a discomfiting discovery. Us women like to wear our hair in different styles – long and layered, a stylish bob, blunt cut, low bun, bangs, pixie cuts. All of these styles will look many times better on ahead with thick, smooth, high-quality hair. If you are a woman who has been recently experiencing unnatural hair loss or thinning issues and are wondering if hair transplants for women work? The answer is yes!
Is There A Difference Between Female and Male Hair Transplant?
There are substantial differences between the causes that lead to hair loss in men and women and it is important to understand them before you consider a hair transplant procedure. Only 2-5% of women are often deemed as eligible to undergo effective hair transplant surgery when compared to a whopping 90-95% of men.
Hair loss in both men and women is typically due to either aging, genetic predispositions (androgenic alopecia), hormonal changes, or some combination of all/some of the above. However, the cause of hair loss is harder to determine in the case of women due to the involvement of additional hormones and biological enzymes. This often translates into distinct types of hair fall visible amongst men and women.
Hair thinning or loss in a patched fashion is observed more in men. Women tend to experience hair loss throughout their scalp, not just in specific regions. What this means is that it would be more difficult to locate ‘donor’ hair strips/follicular units that can be transplanted to areas that need hair regeneration. Diffuse hair loss in women is also indicative of the fact that the scalp is devoid of areas that are DHT (dihydrotestosterone hormone) resistant. DHT is a hormone to which most hair loss issues are attributed. When hair loss is even across your scalp, it means that the skin on your scalp lacks a sufficient number of DHT resistant areas which are essential for hair transplantation.
Women that exhibit hair loss similar to male pattern baldness with stable hair growth on the sides and back are usually the most suitable candidates for a hair transplant procedure. If your hair loss is of diffuse nature, you may want to consult a dermatologist to understand its root cause before deciding on a hair transplant. Diffuse/localized hair loss can be due to various underlying conditions such as hormone imbalances (e.g. PCOS), thyroid-related medications, poor nutrition, lifestyle factors such as stress, ongoing treatment (chemotherapy), compulsive disorders such as trichotillomania, or accidents. A careful diagnosis taking into account other symptoms (irregular periods or acne) is essential to help you arrive at the right decision to help resolve your hair loss concerns.
If you are a woman considering a hair transplant, chances of success are higher if your hair loss/ thinning can be attributed to one or more among the following:
- Female pattern baldness (with dense, stable hair at the sides or at the back of your head)
- The side-effect of a recent cosmetic surgery
- Suffered from an accident/burn/injury
- If you are diagnosed with traction alopecia or alopecia marginalis
You may find a hair transplant useful even if you have a naturally large forehead and are looking to advance your hairline.
FUE Hair Transplant for Women
Before we dive into the details, let us try and understand what constitutes a hair transplant procedure. A hair transplant surgery is a simple, outpatient procedure (takes anywhere between 4-8 hours) that is minimally invasive in nature. It is a permanent solution to hair loss/ thinning issues faced by most men and some women (read the section above to understand the key differences). Recovery is quick and you can resume life as normal within 7-10 days.
Though the idea has been around since the 1950s), recent advances in technology have greatly improved the effectiveness of these procedures. Currently, a surgeon performing a hair transplant procedure employs one of these 2 techniques: Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) or Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
FUT involves transplanting whole strips from regions of your scalp that have steady hair growth to areas lacking in it. Long incisions are made at the beginning which is later stitched up together. The areas that receive the new strip implants will grow new hair.
FUE on the other hand entails extracting individual hair follicles from hair-rich areas of your scalp to the hair-deficient areas. The incisions made are much smaller when compared to that during a FUT.
FUE is a much more advanced hair transplant technique and we will be focusing on how it is conducted and subsequent benefits for the remaining sections of this article.
Following is a step-by-step detailed guide that will help you understand how an FUE surgery is performed:
- Typically the first step that is undertaken is to shave the back of your scalp clean
- The regions that will be under the scalpel will be numbed using local anesthesia
- Individual hair follicles will be extracted from the donor areas of your scalp
- Careful incisions/punches will then be made on the grantee areas of your scalp
- The follicular units that would have carefully prepared by your surgeon will be inserted into the incisions
- Your scalp will then be bandaged to aid recovery
What can you expect after the procedure?
Most clients are able to return to work the very next day or within 7-10 days.
You may experience some soreness or swelling which should subside within a few days. Care must be taken to not lean your head forward to prevent edema. You will usually be prescribed some painkillers or antibiotics during this period. Crusting may occur in the areas that were exposed during the operation. A combination of regular hair washes after the scalp is healed combined with the prescribed medication will eliminate the crusts in 10-15 days.
It is very common to experience hair loss after the transplant for 1-2 months. This is an expected outcome and is often seen as a good response to the procedure. In 9-12 months, most of your hair would grow back in both the donor and grantee areas of your scalp. Some doctors recommend taking the Minoxidil (Rogaine) drug to help the hair growth process. Certain dietary and lifestyle requirements may be imposed to facilitate recovery and subsequent hair growth. Clients are often advised to refrain from drinking and smoking and to consume plenty of water and fruits.