When Samson lost his superhuman strength after his hair got lopped off by Delilah, I think women throughout the centuries could sympathised with him. After all, a woman’s hair is not call her ‘crowning glory’ for nothing. Hair is a potent cultural symbol that represents both femininity and sexuality across different ethnicities. Farah Fawcett is better known for her tousled mane which spawned legions of followers in the 70’s than her actual acting chops. Jennifer Aniston’s career literally had a ‘head start’ in the 90’s when the hairstyle she worn on the sitcom “F-R-I-E-N-D-S” became the most requested cut of all times, and was even christened “The Rachel”, taking on the moniker of her onscreen character. It is therefore not surprising that losing hair can be a devastating experience for most women.
As we flipped through pages of magazines and surfed the internet, advertisements for treatment of balding and hair loss in men can’t be missed. These ads might create the false impression that hair loss is only an issue affecting men. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40% of women have visible hair loss by the age of 40 and more than 50% will notice it by the time they reach their 5th to 6th decade of life. For some, the hair loss is pretty minor and one may simply realize that her ponytail holder needed an extra twist to hold her hair tightly, or she may see a wider part than before. For others, it can be very severe with the scalp being glaringly visible through noticeably sparse and thinned out hair. Before you attempt a Sinned O’Connor or pull out a Gaga wig, let us at RSB give you the low down of hair loss in the fairer sex and more importantly, the treatment options available.
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, why are you losing hair?
Hair loss in women usually has a strong genetic component that can be inherited from either parents and not just from the father as commonly believed. Medically known as androgenetic alopecia, this type of hair loss can start as early as the late teens. Unlike male-pattern baldness, women do not experience the typical M-shaped receding hairline and bald spot on top of the scalp. Instead, there is visible thinning over the crown and hairs are miniaturized because of a shortened growth cycle where the hair stays on the head for a shorter period of time. These wispy hairs, which resemble forearm hairs, do not achieve their usual length.
Temporary hair loss can also be brought about by changes in hormone levels during pregnancy and menopause. Illnesses such as thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases and acute stress (including childbirth!) can lead to hair loss too. Other known causes include scalp infection, side effect from medical treatments such as chemotherapy and long term mishandling of hair with harsh products and styling that leads to strong and constant traction.
What goes into your diet may not put back hair on your head but it can certainly help the hair you have remain healthier longer. Some of the foods recommended include those that are high in protein, low in carbohydrates and have a reduced fat content. Stock up on essential fatty acids sourced from fish and walnuts. Iron rich foods like broccoli and those containing B12 such as meat and poultry are excellent choices too. Similarly, when choosing a hair shampoo, chose one that is fortified with such vitamins.
Apply a hair tonic
In inherited female pattern baldness where the hair follicles start to shrink, topical treatment is known to encourage healthy hair growth. The active ingredient minoxidil is the only drug that’s FDA approved and it seems to have pretty encouraging results thus far. Minoxidil is commonly found in many hair growth formulas such as shampoos and topical lotions, ranging from 2 to 5% in concentration. One such product is Rogaine, a hugely popular brand of minoxidil treatment suitable for both men and women with androgenetic alopecia.
Shine Some Light
Over the last few years, laser light therapy has gained recognition as a modality in the effective treatment of hair loss. The FDA approved Revage 670 Laser is widely recognised as the gold standard to your follicular woes, rejuvenating thinning hair back to its former glory. With a total of 30 laser diodes, this state of the art system provides critical coherent beams as a direct source of laser light in a hood that goes over the scalp to ensure maximum laser energy contact over the area(s) to be treated. As such, it’s best suited for ladies with a diffuse pattern of hair loss. With its Rotational PhotoTherapy (RPT) system, Revage 670 maximizes stimulation of each hair follicle at a much higher level that sets its reliability and efficacy way above that of traditional hand-held lasers.
“Revage 670 is a low-level laser energy system that is safe and painless with absolutely no downtime,” says Dr. Chua Han Boon, senior consultant and hair specialist with The Sloane Clinic. “It works by thickening fine, miniaturized hair and is therefore highly suitable for women with diffuse thinning or general weakening of their crowning glory.”
Studies have shown that Revage produces an 85% success rate in stopping hair loss with an almost 40% of increased fullness reported. In other words, this treatment option besides targeting current hair thinning, is also useful to help prevent further hair loss! For optimal outcome, it is recommended to administer Revage laser therapy twice weekly for the first six weeks followed by weekly sessions for the next 4 months. It is important to note that simultaneous with the laser therapy, patients are encouraged to follow sound medical and nutritional guidelines to enhance hair growth. Once good hair rejuvenation has been observed, periodic touch-ups at regular interval may be require to maintain the benefits reaped.
Help it grow
When previously hair transplant is best regarded as the last resort at the end of the road to address hair loss, mind-sets are fast changing with the introduction of the revolutionary ARTAS Robotic hair transplant system. This FDA approved procedure takes hair transplantation to the next level by employing advanced digital technology and precise robotics to give you fuller, healthy looking hair by harvesting permanent hair from the back of the head and effectively transplanting them into areas that are thinning.
The ARTAS System is able to identify and map hair from the donor site in its natural groupings on the scalp. Unlike traditional manual harvesting whereby a strip of donor scalp up to 30cm in length need to be excised, your doctor with the aid of the ARTAS System is able to remove hair randomly so that the selected donor area on the scalp retains its original appearance as only small dermal punches are employed in harvesting as opposed to open dissection with a scalpel. The harvested hair is then meticulously transplanted manually into the scalp by your doctor to provide exceedingly natural looking result.
Over a period of 3 to 4 months, one should start noticing new permanent hair. At the end of 6 months, most patients notice steady growth and increasing fullness, with the majority experiencing complete results in about a year. This new, permanent hair can be styled and cut without a hitch, allowing you the empowerment that comes with realising that your hairy woes are now as distant as the biblical tale of “Samson & Delilah”.