Q: I am a Caucasian female that has experienced hair loss on the sides of my head from the height of the eyebrow to the ear due to traction. The hair loss has been present since my teen years. My job requires me to wear my hair up most of the time. Although I don’t wear it nearly as tight, I seem to continue to lose my hair in the front and on the top of my head. My hair also used to be very thick as a child and is now quite thin. I’m not sure if this is normal or something else is going on, but I am definitely interested in a hair transplant. — M.H., Larchmont, NY
A: It sounds like you are experiencing continued traction alopecia. Unless the underlying cause is corrected (the traction), you can expect to continue to lose your hair. People that have traction alopecia can have thinning even from mild pulling that might not be a problem for others. Once you stop the pulling, it can take up to two years for the hair to return, although there may be permanent hair loss.
Surgical hair restoration is the treatment of choice for permanent hair loss from traction. If you have significant thinning on the sides, you may not be a candidate for hair transplantation since in this procedure we often need to harvest hair from the permanent area in the sides of the scalp as well as the back.
An additional problem (that you allude to) is that you may have underlying female pattern hair loss. This would further complicate the surgical treatment.
A careful examination (including densitometry) can sort these problems out and allow for more specific recommendations.
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