Can a Hair Transplant Treat an African-American Woman with Scarring Alopecia?

January 13th, 2015

Q: I’m a 42 year old African-American woman and I’m losing hair on the crown of my head. Would I be a good candidate for a hair transplant?

A: Hair loss in the crown of an African American female can have several different etiologies, so the first thing to do is to make the right diagnosis. The most common causes of hair loss are androgenic alopecia (AGA) and scarring alopecia, also called ‘Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia,’ or CCCA. A biopsy is often useful to differentiate these two causes of hair loss when the diagnosis is unclear. A biopsy can also identify other, but less common, causes of crown hair loss.

AGA presents with a history of gradual thinning in the front and/or top of the scalp, a relative preservation of the frontal hairline, a positive family history of hair loss and the presence of miniaturization in the thinning areas. Miniaturization, the progressive decrease of the hair shaft’s diameter and length in response to hormones, can be identified using a hand-held device called a densitometer. If the diagnosis is AGA, then a hair transplant can be very successful provided there is enough donor hair.

CCCA presents as a progressive form of scarring alopecia that occurs almost exclusively in African American women. The onset of CCCA is very slow, typically developing over the course of years. CCCA starts near the vertex or top of the scalp and spreads in an outward direction. The involved area is usually smooth and shiny with decreased hair density.

Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia is diagnosed with a scalp biopsy performed in the area of hair loss. Those patients with CCCA are generally not candidates for a hair transplant procedure since the body may reject the transplanted hair. This condition is better treated with oral and injectable anti-inflammatory medications. Surgical treatment for cosmetic benefit may be an option in some cases after the disease has been inactive for many years.

Click here to read more about Scarring Alopecias

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Posted by Michael B. Wolfeld M.D. on January 13th, 2015 at 2:18 pm



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