It’s no secret that hair loss affects both men and women. But when it comes to discussing hair transplant procedures, the conversation often revolves around men. The reality is that there still seems to be a taboo surrounding female hair surgery. That was the experience of Sonja van der Berg, 33, who had a hair transplant to change the appearance of what she regarded as her prominent forehead and high hairline. She spoke out about her own procedure to show other women that ‘there’s nothing to be ashamed about’. Where does that shame stem from, and why does it still persist? Read on to find out!
Female Hair Loss
While there are many causes of hair loss in women, female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is the most common. FPHL is characterised by a gradual thinning of the hair on the top and front of the scalp. It’s believed to be caused by a combination of genetics, hormones and ageing.
There are other types of female hair loss. Traction alopecia results from hair being stressed and damaged, usually by being pulled too tightly over many years by unforgiving hairstyles. Ponytails and scaped-back buns are just two examples.
Women also lose hair after giving birth and when they hit menopause. This can be a form of telogen effluvium, which is hair loss brought on by stress and anxiety. Often, these different types of hair loss can be temporary, and the hair will grow back. In some cases, however, you might still be left with a thinner, less luxurious covering.
For some types of hair loss, a hair transplant procedure can be a viable option. Yet not only do women not come forward in the same numbers as men for a transplant, but they find it difficult even to discuss the subject. Why is that?
Reasons for the Taboo
There are many social and cultural reasons why a woman’s identity is often interwoven with her hair. These would take a thesis of epic length to explain. To cut to the chase, the health of a woman’s hair is closely associated with concepts of youth, fertility and sexual attractiveness. Talking about hair loss, therefore, is for many women akin to discussing their own decline.
Aside from these emotional issues, there are other, more practical concerns. Some of these are tied up with the mechanics of how the hair procedure is performed. In traditional Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) hair surgery, a strip of hair is removed from the donor site, leaving a linear scar. This can be problematic for women who don’t want to have a visible scar.
Women are also often deterred by the prospect of getting their head shaved in preparation for hair transplant surgery. It’s easier for a man to go about his business with a shaved head than it is for a woman.
Are Things Changing?
The short answer is yes, but slowly. There has been a shift in recent years as more women are opening up about their experiences with hair loss and seeking out solutions, including hair transplant procedures. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, Naomi Campbell, and Jennifer Aniston have been vocal about their hair loss struggles and the procedures they’ve undergone to address them. This has helped to break down some of the stigma surrounding female hair transplants.
Advances in hair transplant technology have also helped. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) hair surgery has replaced FUT as the most popular transplant technique. With FUE, individual hair follicles are removed from the donor site (usually the back or sides of the head) using a small, handheld device. The result is less visible scarring. Nor is it necessary to have your entire head shaved for a transplant anymore; increasingly, hair surgery is done using only a partial shave.
Overall, nothing sells like success; it’s beyond doubt that the first-class results one can achieve with a hair transplant these days are convincing more women to come forward. And, in addition to the physical benefits of a hair transplant, there are also emotional benefits. Many women who have undergone hair transplant procedures report feeling more confident and self-assured after the surgery. They no longer have to worry about hiding their thinning hair or feeling self-conscious in social situations.
Hair transplant surgery is not a quick fix for hair loss. It can take several months to see the full results of the procedure, and patients must be committed to following post-operative care instructions to ensure a successful outcome. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for a transplant, so you should consult with an experienced hair specialist to determine if the procedure is right for you.
Vinci Hair Clinic can help with that, as we have more hair specialists than most! We’re one of the largest hair restoration organisations in the world, with a network of clinics across the globe. What’s more, we offer a free consultation with one of our specialists to all first-time clients. Interested? Contact us today and book your appointment!