It is my opinion that most women who suffer with typical female pattern hair loss are not candidates for hair transplantation. The reason being, usually women’s hair loss exhibits itself in a diffuse thinning all over the scalp leaving no stable donor hair. In order to understand what I am referring to it is important to first understand how a hair transplant is performed. Since I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here, with permission I am republishing the hair transplant information provided by The American Hair Loss Association
Understanding Hair Transplants (from the American Hair Loss Association)
At this point a hair transplant can only be performed by harvesting DHT resistant hair from the back of your own scalp, and then transplanting it into the balding areas. Typically, men experiencing male pattern baldness will remain with a permanent wreath of hair surrounding the sides and the back of their head, this is where hair is harvested from for transplantation. This hair is genetically programmed to continue to grow even in the worse cases of male pattern baldness.
The exception is men suffering with diffuse hair loss. These men suffer with a similar form of hair loss as women; the hair loss is distributed throughout the entire scalp leaving the sides and the back very sparse. If this hair were to be transplanted, there would be no guarantee that the hair would continue to grow in the recipient area due to the fact that this hair seems to be inherently unstable and just as susceptible to DHT as the hair lost on the top of the scalp. For this reason the vast majority of women suffering from hair loss should never have a hair transplant.
Since hair transplantation is a good option for nearly 90 percent of the balding men in the country, women think that they will make a good hair transplant candidate as well, but this is usually not the case. Very few women have the type of hair loss that would make them good candidates, and that’s because most women have what’s called diffuse hair loss. That means that women have an overall thinning in all areas of the head, including the sides and back, these are the areas that act as donor sites in men. It is from these sites that the hair is removed for hair transplantation to other areas of the head. In men, the donor sites are called stable sites, which means that the hair and follicles in those areas are not affected by the DHT that shrinks follicles elsewhere on the head in those with androgenetic alopecia, or what’s commonly called male pattern baldness. In female pattern baldness, however, these donor areas are usually unstable. They are thinning, just like the other areas of the head. The donor areas in women are affected by follicle-killing DHT. That means that if you remove hair and accompanying follicles from these donor areas in women and transplant them to other areas, it’s just going to fall out. Any doctor who would attempt to transplant hair from an unstable donor site is unethical and just trying to take economic advantage of the patient.
Another difference between male and female pattern baldness is the frontal hairline. Unlike men, women experiencing hair loss still tend to keep their frontal hairline. They don’t have to worry about needing a hair transplant to frame their face and are instead more concerned about the loss of volume from the top and back. Hair transplants, though, don’t do much to increase volume. It just moves hair from one place to another.
Are You a Good Candidate?
According to experts a very small percentage of women are actually candidates for hair transplant surgery, approximately 2 – 5% will benefit from this type of procedure. The only women who are potential candidates for surgical hair restoration are:
- Women who have suffered hair loss due to mechanical or traction Alopecia (non hormonal)
- Women who have had previous cosmetic or plastic surgery and are concerned about hair loss around the incision sites.
- Women who have a distinct pattern of baldness, similar to that of male pattern baldness. This includes, hairline recession, vertex thinning, and a donor area that is not affected by androgenetic Alopecia.
- Women who suffer hair loss due to trauma, including burn victims, scarring from accidents and chemical burns.
- Women with alopecia marginalis, a condition that looks very similar to traction alopecia.
Due to the lack of stability in women suffering with female pattern baldness, women generally make very poor candidates for hair transplant surgery. However, if your hair loss is caused by any of the above mentioned, then you may benefit from this procedure.
Gypsy, who are you having your consultation with tomorrow? There are so many unethical hair transplant doctors that may be willing to perform a hair transplant on a woman that isn’t a candidate so you have to be very very careful! I also tell women that if they are insistent on having a consultation for hair transplant surgery that they choose a doctor who is a member of The International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS) those doctors have been screened and are not only good hair restoration surgeons, but also ethical as well, so I think they would provide an honest assessment to a woman who was trying to figure out if she was a candidate. Please keep us updated.