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Bernstein Medical - Center for Hair Restoration
Hair Restoration Answers

Why Is Hair Loss In Women Harder To Treat With A Hair Transplant Than Hair Loss In Men?

Q: Why is hair loss in women harder to treat with hair transplants than hair loss in men?

A: The majority of women present with diffuse hair loss (i.e. thinning all over) rather than the patterned hair loss seen in men (where the hair loss is localized to the front and top of the scalp).

Diffuse thinning presents two problems for a potential hair transplant candidate.

The first is that there is no permanent area where the hair can be taken from. If hair is taken from an area that is thinning, the transplanted hair will continue to thin after the procedure, since moving it doesn’t make it more permanent.

The second problem is that since the areas to be transplanted are thin, rather than completely bald, the existing hair in the area of the hair transplant is at some risk to shedding as a result of the procedure.

When women have a more defined pattern (i.e. more localized thinning on the front part of the scalp with a stable back and sides), they can make excellent candidates for surgery. This pattern occurs in about 20% of women. A small percentage of men have diffuse thinning and are, therefore, poor candidates for a hair restoration surgery as well.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Why is there a Different Consultation Fee for Diffuse Thinning versus Patterned Hair Loss?

Q: Why is the consult fee more for diffuse thinning than for a regular visit? — B.F., Altherton, CA

A: Diffuse hair loss, more common in women, can be the result of a number of underlying medical conditions and therefore it usually requires an extended medical evaluation.

If you are a male or female with obvious diffuse thinning from androgenetic alopecia (common baldness), or if you have patterned hair loss where the diagnosis is straightforward, the fee is less because an extensive evaluation is not required.

Please visit our Hair Transplant Costs & Consultation Fees page for more information.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Are Women Less Likely to be Candidates for a Hair Transplant?

Q: I heard that a smaller per cent of women are candidates for hair transplants compared to men. Is this true?

A: Yes, that is true. Women more commonly have diffuse hair loss where the thinning is all over the scalp. This means that the donor area (the back and sides of the scalp) are thinning as well.

If the donor area is not stable, then there is no point in doing a hair transplant, since the transplanted hair will continue to fall out. Remember, the transplanted hair is no better than the area where is comes from.

On the other hand, women with stable donor areas can be great candidates for surgical hair restoration. The stability of the donor area can be assessed using a procedure called densitometry and should be part of the hair loss evaluation when you see your physician.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Is Donor Area Thinning Common After an FUE Hair Transplant?

Q: I recently had a follicular unit extraction procedure of 320 grafts to fix an old strip scar. The donor area where the FUE’s were taken looks very diffuse – worse than the original scar ever was, it looks horrible. My doctor said this was just shock loss. Have you seen that happen where the donor area gets all diffuse from shock? If not, have you seen it where the FUE’s are taken in an illogical pattern resulting in new scarring that is noticeable? — E.O., Providence, R.I.

A: You can have shedding in the donor area from an FUE procedure, although it is not common. In FUE, the hair must be taken from the permanent zone and if there is too much wastage in the extraction process, too large an area may be needed to obtain the hair. This can leave a thin look even without shock loss (shedding).

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Hair Restoration Answers

Could Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) Benefit Women?

Q: I am a 33 year old woman and have been told my hair is too thin on the sides for me to have a hair transplant. Could I benefit from laser treatments?

A: Although the long-term benefits on hair growth are not known, Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is able to stimulate hair to become fuller in appearance in the clinical trials that have been carried out for six month periods.

Since the laser light serves to thicken fine, miniaturized hair, it is particularly suitable to areas of diffuse thinning, rather than areas of complete baldness.

Since hair loss in women commonly has a diffuse pattern, because women can’t take Propecia (finasteride), and the fact that women are less often candidates for surgery (as compared to men), laser therapy in females is particularly appealing.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Propecia Treat Diffuse Unpatterned Alopecia (DUPA)?

Q: I am 26 and I have been diagnosed with Diffuse Unpatterned Alopecia (DUPA) and realize I am not a candidate for hair transplants. I have been on Propecia for about 9 months. There have been periods of increased shedding throughout and I am still shedding what seem to be mostly very fine, miniaturized hairs. Do you think this is the Propecia speeding up the hair cycle and pushing out the old fine hairs, or do you think this is an increase in the pace of my genetic balding? I know that your post states that the accelerated hair loss generally stops by the 6th month. Does DUPA have any effect on the timeframe? Also, I have read that Propecia is only effective for about 50% of patients with DUPA. Do you find that to be true, or have you found a different experience? — T.T., White Plains, N.Y.

A: It is hard to tell at 9 months whether it is shedding from the finasteride or that the medication is just not working. Since there is no way to tell, I would stay on the medication for 2 years for any possible shedding from the medication to have passed and to see if your hair loss actually stops.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Transplant Treat Diffuse Hair Loss in Women?

Q: My hair loss resembles the grade I female hair loss scale, but none of the male hair loss patterns. It has been relatively stable for the past five years and only recently has it begun to progress further. I began both Propecia and regain two months ago, but the hair loss still continues at the same pace. I’m really worried. Does a hair transplant work in such a diffuse hair loss? — D.D., Park Slope, Brooklyn

A: If your hair loss is diffuse only on top, then a hair transplant will be effective. This condition is called Diffuse Patterned Alopecia or DPA.

If the diffuse pattern of hair loss affects the back and sides as well, then surgical hair restoration should be avoided. In this case (called Diffuse Unpatterned Alopecia or DUPA) the donor area is not permanent and the transplanted hair will continue to thin over time.

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Hair Restoration Answers

Can Hair Loss be Caused by Thyroid Problems or Fluctuations in Hormones?

Q: One of the things that I have noticed as a person who has needed to take thyroid medication for a long, long time, is that when my thyroid gets a little bit out of balance – when I’m not getting quite enough, I begin to notice is that my hair starts falling out. What about the role of thyroid for hair loss? — T.K., Mineola, NY

A: Both increases and decreases in thyroid levels can cause hair loss and changes in the levels of thyroid hormone can change the consistency of one’s hair. Elevated hormone levels cause scalp hair to be fine and soft, with diffuse thinning being relatively characteristic.

When thyroid hormone levels are low, the hair becomes dry, coarse, and brittle. Hair loss can be either patchy or diffuse (involving the entire scalp).

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