Five common questions about female hair loss

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Surgeon Asim Shahmalak, of Crown Clinic in Manchester, is one of Britain’s leading expert on hair loss. Here he answers six of the most common questions about female hair loss. 

1. 50% of women experience hair loss by the time they reach 40, according to a recent survey – is the number of women losing their
hair increasing? And if so what are the triggers of this in modern society?

Yes the number of women losing their hair is increasing for a number of reasons.
* Stress – this can cause a hormonal imbalance in women which can lead to hair loss.
*  Modern hair techniques: extensions, beads, hair straighteners, weaves, bleaching, dying – all this can damage the hair and lead to
hair loss and conditions such as traction alopecia.
*  Surgery, illness and medication – the body shuts down the production of non-essential products, including hair, so that it can concentrate its resources where they are most needed.
* Medical conditions such as low blood count, hormonal changes, pregnancy and thyroid problems can also affect hair growth and lead to hair loss. Usually in these cases the hair loss is temporary and it
will grow back.
* There is also great awareness of hair loss in women. Women are far more likely to admit they have a problem and seek remedies including a hair transplant either by FUE (follicular unit extraction) or FUT (follicular unit transplantation). That has to be a good thing.

2. What lifestyle changes can women make to prevent hair loss? Is it genetic or lifestyle induced problem?
Hair loss can also be lifestyle induced. It is important to live healthily to maintain a good head of hair in both sexes.
When you don’t eat enough food or avoid the necessary vitamins, your hair will lose the nutrients that make it strong and beautiful. Make sure your diet is rich in vitamins like iron and zinc.
There is a powerful genetic link to hair loss – put simply, if your mother or grandmother has thin hair or suffers hair loss, there is a good chance you will too as a woman.This is called Androgenetic Alopecia, or hereditary pattern hair loss, and affects around 20% of women – most obviously through thinning over the central scalp.
But women rarely develop a receding hairline. Androgenetic Alopecia is most commonly seen in women after the menopause but can occur in younger women and
has even been know to begin in puberty.

3. Do shampoos and lotions work to halt hair loss or encourage growth?

Very rarely- be very wary of any shampoo or lotion that says as much. There are medications which can halt further loss. Finasteride (also called Propecia) , most commonly prescribed to men, can be effective
in halting hair loss in post-menapausal women. Another drug which be beneficial for 15% of female users is Minoxidl – it is also available in a lotion. It is not available on the NHS and can only be obtained
privately. Growing numbers of my patients are women.

4. Hair loss in women is quite a taboo subject, and obviously very
upsetting. How important is it for women to know they’re not alone andbthis is a common and treatable condition?

It is very important that women suffering hair loss realise this is a common and treatable condition and that they are not alone. Hair loss
can have dismaying or even devastating influence on a woman’s quality of life, not least because hair loss is often wrongly considered a less significant psychological and emotional problem for women than it
is for men. Too often, a woman’s hair loss is not taken seriously by family or friends or even by a woman’s doctor.

5. What are the psychological impacts of hair loss?
Men can cover up their hair loss by shaving their head – that option isn’t really available to women.
While hair loss itself can present psychological and emotional problems for a woman, failure of others to recognise the seriousness of these problems may contribute additionally to psychological andemotional effects that can range from decreased self-esteem to anxiety and depression.

Our Surgeon

Dr. Asim Shahmalak

Dr Asim Shahmalak is a world-renowned hair transplant surgeon who performed the UK’s first eyelash transplant in 2009. He runs Crown Clinic – one of Britain’s most successful and best known hair transplant clinics. He has treated a number of high-profile industry leaders and celebrities including the medical broadcaster Dr Christian Jessen, best known for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies.

Related Articles

Chris Evans has told of his plans to have a hair transplant after he quits taking hair loss pills.

Like a lot of men with thinning hair, the 55-year-old radio DJ has been taking clinically proven hair loss pills to slow down or halt his hair loss.

Chris will almost certainly be taking Finasteride, also known as Propecia.

This won’t help him to grow any new hair but it should stop him from losing any more of his natural hair.

Around 2% of men who take Finasteride suffer side effects such as loss of libido.

And it sounds from Chris’s recent comments that he was one of the unlucky few that the drug does not suit.

Chris explained that he has “never been fitter” but addressed concerns with his hormone levels.

The Virgin Radio host explained that he had been carrying out research on testosterone and DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) – an androgen sex hormone that contributes to the development of what are thought of as “male” sex characteristics, such as body hair.

It can also contribute to you losing your hair faster and earlier.

Chris said: “I was finding out about my hair pills that I had been taking for a while and why that might be affecting my testosterone which apparently is one of the reasons I might have to get a hair transplant.”

He added: “I need to stop taking these pills.

“Obviously, [testosterone] helps different aspects of your life as well but from an energy point of view I’ve heard from some people that if you take different energy supplements – for instance, to help stimulate hair growth like I do – that has an adverse effect on your testosterone levels,” Chris remarked.

“I don’t necessarily want to take testosterone supplements although there are some pretty good ones out there that have very few, if any, side effects.

“But first of all, I would like to get my testosterone up by not taking things that are suppressing it.”

Chris commented: “That would mean me going bald which I don’t want to do. I’ve got the wrong shaped head.”

Studies consistently show that men with advanced male pattern baldness have lower body confidence and this can impact both on their personal relationships, their career and even their earning power. Yes, a recent study found that men who are balding earn on average less than men with a full head of hair.

Crown Clinic’s consultant hair transplant such Dr Asim Shahmalak treats lots of celebrity patients like Chris.

He can either have a Follicular Unit Extraction transplant (FUE), where the donor hair is extracted from the back of the scalp individually and then replanted in the balding areas. Crown Clinic celebrity FUE patients include Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd, model Calum Best, Homes Under The Hammer presenter and the former footballer Didi Hamann. Around 80% of Dr Shahmalak’s patients at Crown Clinic opt for FUE.

The other option available to Chris is FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) where a strip of skin is removed from the back of the scalp to obtain the donor hair which is replanted in the balding areas by the surgeon in the same way as FUE. The TV doctor Christian Jessen had two FUT transplants with Dr Shahmalak.

Whichever method Chris chooses, he can significantly improve his appearance – looking years younger – with a hair transplant.

Robbie Williams was back in the media this week talking about his thinning hair.

His wife Ayda Field posted a video of the 47-year-old showing off his new Mohican haircut.

In the video, Robbie says: “I’m losing my hair, I’m thinning. So I thought I’d lean into it, rather than fighting it.”

Ayda captioned the video: ‘@robbiewilliams in a hair life crisis….#newhaircut #lastofthemohicans.”

Most hair loss is in the genes and Robbie’s 72-year-old father Pete Conway is heavily badling.

It is evident that the same baldness gene has been passed from father to son.

Robbie revealed that he’d had a hair transplant on the Graham Norton Show way back in 2013 when he was 39.

He said then: “I’ve had a thatch done, I’ll tell everyone now. I didn’t even need it. That’s the weirdest thing. I had like three months off and got bored so thought, I’ll go in.”

Williams indicated that he had “just got some at the sides and front done”.

The sad truth is that hair loss is a continual process.

The transplanted hair will be permanent and will last Robbie for the rest of his life.

But a man such as Robbie with a strong baldness gene was always going to carry on losing his natural hair after the first hair transplant.

He could have slowed down or even halted this natural shedding by taking a clinically proven hair loss drug such as Finasteride, also known as Propecia.

This would not have grown any new hair for Robbie but it would have stopped him losing more of his natural cover.

Some men are put off taking Finasteride because around 2% of patients experience issues such as loss of libido and man boobs.

Crown Clinic’s consultant hair transplant surgeon, Dr Asim Shahmalak, prescribes Finasteride to some patients and also combines a hair transplant with use of the drug.

But the only way Robbie will properly combat his baldness and fill out that Mohican is by having a hair transplant.

Most of Dr Shahmalak’s celebrity clients opt for a FUE (follicular unit extraction) procedure, where the donor hairs are extracted individually from the back and side of the scalp. This would suit a patient such as Robbie because the scarring his minimal, and FUE is better suited to men who like to wear their hair short.

Dr Shahmalak’s celebrity patients Jack P Shepherd from Coronation Street, model Calum Best and Homes Under the Hammer presenter Martin Roberts all had FUE procedures at Crown Clinic.

The other method is called FUT (follicular unit transplantation) and the donor hair is obtained by cutting a strip of skin from the back of the scalp. This hair is then replanted in the same way as FUT.

Robbie shouldn’t delay any longer – that second hair transplant will definitely improve his hair.

There has never been a better time to have a hair transplant.

Working from home makes it much easier for patients to enjoy a degree of anonymity once the procedure has been completed.

A hair transplant is a significant medical procedure.

Patients need up to two weeks to fully recover and for the surgical scars to heal.

At Crown Clinic, we are aware that there is a certain stigma attached to men in particular seeking help with their hair.

Some are worried that they will be considered vain and are embarrassed by the idea of returning to work soon after having a procedure.

Attitudes are changing fast and most people admire those who seek to improve their hair. The response to celebrities such as Jack P Shepherd or Jimmy Carr having a hair transplant is overwhelmingly positive.

The pandemic – and the increased tendency for people to work from home – has enabled lots more patients to ‘fly under the radar’ folllowing a procedure.

They can be treated by our consultant transplant surgeon Dr Asim Shahmalak and then make a quiet return to work at home while they recover.

Lots of patients like this quieter approach – any procedure, certainly in the early stages, is harder to detect on a Zoom call than in a face-to-face meeting.

For these reasons, some hair transplant clinics are reporting bookings up by as much 40% in the last six months.

We are very busy at the Covid-secure Crown Clinic and the holiday period is a great time for bookings.

Patients can have a procedure at the start of a two-week break and then lie low away from work relaxing on holiday while they recover.

At Crown Clinic, we offer two types of procedure.

Around 80% of our patients opt for the more modern technique known as FUE (follicular unit extraction).

This is where individual hair grafts are extracted from the back and sides of the scalp and then replanted in the balding areas.

Because the grafts are removed individually, scarring is minimal – patients are left with red pin pricks in the donor and transplant areas for around a week before healing.

Celebrity patients who have had FUE procedures with Dr Shahmalak at Crown Clinic include the Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd, Homes Under the Hammer presenter Martin Roberts and the model Calum Best.

FUE is more labour intensive than the more traditional form of hair transplantation, FUT (follicular unit transplantation). With FUT, Dr Shahmalak surgicially removes a strip of skin from the back of the scalp to obtain the donor hair.

The donor grafts are removed from the strip by technicians under a microscope before being replanted by Dr Shahmalak in the balding areas in the same way as FUE.

The TV doctor Christian Jessen has had two FUT procedures with Dr Shahmalak.

Scarring is more noticeable with FUT, so it is not recommended for men who like to wear their hair short or shaved.

It is quicker to obtain the donor hairs with FUT so the procedure is cheaper than FUE.