Hair transplant surgery for women

More women are having hair transplants

by Professor Harryono Judodihardjo, medical director of the Cellite Clinic in Cardiff and member of the British Association of Cosmetic Doctors (BACD).

Surveys conducted over the years by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) – the world’s leading medical authority on hair loss and hair restoration – have established that female hair restoration patients world-wide have increased from 11.4 percent in 2004 to 13.8 percent in 2006 to 15.1 percent in 2008.

This is a trend I have noticed very clearly at the Cellite Clinic too.  A few years ago all my hair transplant patients were male, now about 20 per cent of people who come and see me are female.

This doesn’t seem to be because there is a greater incidence of hair loss in women now, simply that females are viewing hair transplants as a preferable option to wearing a wig.

This could be because transplant techniques have been revolutionised in recent years. Sophisticated new implanting methods, and microscopic hair dissection give a natural, pleasing look that is virtually undetectable.

By contrast, old procedures where far more clumsy, hair was transplanted in a clump of three or four hairs, creating a lumpy and unnatural finish.

The most common type of hair loss in women is female pattern hair loss.  Pattern hair loss, which is usually attributed to genetics, affects both men and women.

However, while men with pattern hair loss often experience a receding hairline or bald spot on the top of the scalp,  female pattern hair loss  is commonly characterised by visible thinning over the scalp.

Although the frontal hairline is usually spared, women tend to notice things like their parting becoming broader, or their ponytail looking smaller.

A number of factors can affect hair loss, for example, iron deficiency, thyroid problems, pregnancy, and even certain types of hairstyle. I would advise anyone who notices hair loss to go to their GP immediately to have a blood test.

Once medical conditions are ruled out, it’s time to see a hair restoration specialist as soon as possible, as in the early stages, before the hair follicle dies, it is possible to limit future hair loss with hair loss medication.

Hair loss medication is only available on private prescription. The Cellite Clinic offers a number of hair loss medications. Please beware of online advertisements for hair thickening medication, I have treated people who have purchased drugs on the internet, and found they do not work.

As with any problem, the sooner the issue of hair loss is addressed, the better. Once hair starts noticeably thinning, it’s unlikely the problem will go away without intervention.

We start off with about 100,000 hairs, by the time people notice their hair is thinning they are down to around 50,000, and the hair count has generally dropped to 30,000 by the time people come for treatment.

Obviously, once the condition is advanced, it will be harder to achieve a satisfactory result. It is also more expensive to treat.

Hair transplantation is a skilled process and extremely time-consuming. We charge £4.50 per hair graft, and a minimum of a 1,000 grafts are usually needed, but in many cases the client will need as many as 4,000 grafts – implanted over a number of sessions.

However, the good news is that hair transplant for women is easier as female hair is longer so it’s easier to hide the transplant scars.

During a typical hair transplant procedure, hair restoration specialists split tiny grafts from the patient’s existing hair and plant them into the thinning or bald areas of the scalp while the patient remains awake.  Hair grows in gradually and will take several years to grow to any significant length.

Both men and women are very distressed when they come to me with hair loss problems, particularly if the problem strikes when they are very young. However, for a woman the embarrassment is even more acute, as society tends to be less tolerant of baldness in women.

I provide counselling for clients, and make sure they are fully aware of the implications of hair transplantation. While we can achieve a positive outcome, the hair might never look like the original head of thick locks.

The process also requires a couple of weeks off work, to allow the tender scalp to recover.

However, with a realistic expectation of the results, hair transplant clients are generally very happy, as having natural hair is far easier than wearing a wig, and they can live a normal life, partaking in sports and swimming, without worrying.