An estimated 30 to 40 million women in the U.S. suffer from hair loss every year, and around 50 percent of women complain of thinning hair by the time they reach 50 years of age, according to recent statistics. But with the modern stress of life, coupled with health issues, women of every age are growing increasingly concerned about thinning hair.
The most important thing to consider is that a healthy scalp is the basis for healthy hair growth. “It is really important to cleanse the scalp just as you would your face,” says David Adams, trichologist and cofounder of FourteenJay salon in Tribeca. “Scalp care is definitely the new skincare.” Adams recommends using a good quality shampoo if you are suffering from hair loss. Even more so if you receive chemical services such as permanent hair coloring, highlights, relaxers, keratin treatments, perms, etc.
According to Adams, one of the main contributors to hair loss is the overuse of hair spray, dry shampoo, and lots of other styling products, which create buildup on the scalp around the base of the hair follicle. A clogged scalp will contribute to thinning hair. “You may shampoo your hair every day as long as you are using good, quality products with pure ingredients,” Adams says.
You can also visit a dermatologist or trichologist for a variety of treatment options. The most common treatment prescribed is minoxidil (Rogaine), he says. New hair growth usually occurs after three to six months. In addition, trichologists often take pictures of the scalp and measure the affected areas. They may also take blood samples to figure out what is going on with your body. Treatments can include scalp cleansing and prescribing minoxidil, as well as using laser light therapy. But note that, in general, thinning hair and hair shedding may be related to another health issue. “Hair is a good barometer to your general health,” Adams says.
However, in cases where more aggressive options are necessary, there are a slew of new technologies that are proving to change the hair-loss game forever. Below are some of the latest from Dr. Robert Bernstein at Bernstein Medical Hair Rejuvenation clinic in New York City.
Scalp micro-pigmentation or SMP is a nonsurgical, medical-grade tattoo procedure that involves the placement of tiny pigment deposits within the upper dermis of the scalp that simulate the appearance of naturally growing hair. For people who are balding or thinning, the goal of the SMP treatment is to create an illusion of thicker, fuller, stronger hair by simulating the look of individual hairs. SMP can create a shaved look in balding areas and more density in thinning areas, and may be used for scar concealment or for augmenting a hair transplant.
Platelet Rich Plasma
Platelet-rich plasma is concentrated blood plasma that contains approximately three to five times the number of platelets found in normal circulating blood. In addition, it contains platelet-derived growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, transforming growth factor, and other bioactive proteins that aid in wound healing and possibly hair growth. Growth factors in platelet-rich plasma have been used to facilitate wound healing. Recently, studies have suggested that it may also serve as a safe and effective treatment option for male and female pattern hair loss.
Hair cloning is a promising treatment for androgenetic alopecia, or common genetic hair loss that is being actively researched by pioneering hair restoration physicians, like Dr. Bernstein in conjunction with Columbia University, hoping to be the first to develop a “cure” for hair loss. In hair cloning, a sample of a person’s germinative hair follicle cells are multiplied outside the body (in vitro), and then they are re-implanted into the scalp with the hope that they will grow new hair follicles and, thus, new permanent hair.
Follicular Unit Excision
Follicular unit excision, formerly called follicular unit extraction, is a method of extracting, or “harvesting,” donor hair in a follicular unit hair transplant procedure. In this type of hair transplant surgery, an instrument is used to make a small, circular incision in the skin around a follicular unit, separating it from the surrounding tissue. The unit is then extracted (pulled) directly from the scalp, leaving a small open hole.
This process is repeated until the hair transplant surgeon has harvested enough follicular units for the planned hair restoration. This process can take one or more hours and, in large sessions, may be accomplished over two consecutive days. The donor wounds, approximately one millimeter in size, completely heal over the course of seven to 10 days, leaving tiny white scars buried in the hair in the back and sides of the scalp.
Follicular Unit Transplantation
Follicular unit transplantation is a surgical procedure in which hair is transplanted from the permanent zone–the area in the back and sides of the scalp where hair is more resistant to balding–to the bald or balding areas of the scalp. This is accomplished using naturally occurring groups of one, two, three, or four hairs, called follicular units. After the patient’s scalp is anesthetized, the doctor removes a strip of tissue from the donor area, an area within the permanent zone, and, once extracted, the donor strip is cut into many individual follicular units using microscopic dissection techniques. As these follicular unit grafts are being prepared, the doctor makes tiny holes in the scalp, called recipient sites, where the grafts are placed.
ARTAS Robotic Hair Transplant System
The ARTAS robotic system is the most advanced technology for surgical hair restoration. It aids the physician in performing follicular unit excision hair transplant procedures with accuracy and consistency that allows for maximum preservation of follicles.
Help hair grow thicker and fuller with these tried-and-true favorites.
1. Thicker Fuller Hair Strengthening Shampoo
The line consists of a strengthening shampoo, repairing conditioner, root-lifting serum, and a nourishing daily scalp tonic. The entire line is 92 percent naturally derived and 100 percent vegan and contains organic quinoa and biotin. $12, thickerfullerhair.com.
2. Aveda Invati Advanced
Inspired by the ancient healing art of India, Invati Advanced features an invigorating blend of Ayurvedic herbs to help you keep the hair you have longer. The patented bio-fermented blend plus the herb blend, with ginseng and certified-organic turmeric, invigorates the scalp when massaged in, while certified-organic amla thickens the hair. $135, aveda.com.
3. Nutrafol Women
This hair growth vitamin is formulated with natural ingredients such as ashwagandha, curcumin, saw palmetto, marine collagen, and biotin that are medical grade, and responsibly sourced to encourage hair growth. $88, amazon.com.