Menopause prompts many changes in women’s bodies. While most women would agree that the actual pause in menses is a positive outcome, most of the side effects are upsetting, embarrassing, and positively unsettling. One of the most devastating changes that can occur that few people talk about is thinning hair.
Hair is psychologically important to both sexes, but it is an integral feature of a woman’s appearance and dramatically affects their self-esteem. Women cut it, color it, straighten it, and make it curly – striving for the perfect frames to their faces. When menopause steps in and adversely affects a woman’s appearance, it can be incredibly disheartening. Fortunately, advances in treatments and procedures can now provide options for women experiencing thinning hair.
Why does menopause cause thinning hair?
During menopause, hormones fluctuate and create an imbalance in women’s bodies. Estrogen and progesterone levels drop, causing androgens (i.e., male hormones) like testosterone to increase. The androgens weaken hair follicles, resulting in slower hair growth and hair loss.
How bad will it get?
Unlike men, women tend to lose hair all over instead of balding. Bald spots can occur, but the majority of women will only experience thinning on the top and sides of their heads. In more extreme cases, a woman’s scalp will become very prominent due to all of the hair loss, making the thinning unpleasantly noticeable.
What treatments are available?
There are two primary treatment options available when combatting hair loss: temporary and permanent.
Temporary options include prescriptions for products like Minoxidil (e.g., Rogaine) that help to retain and regrow hair. The problem with temporary solutions is that as soon as you stop using the product, hair stops growing. These products also don’t work for all women.
Hair Restoration Surgery is a more expensive, but permanent solution to thinning hair. At Aesthetica, we perform Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) surgeries to move healthy hair follicles to places on the head that need them. Since most women experience thinning, or diffuse hair loss, during menopause, the procedure is more complicated than the procedures used for balding men.
What is Follicular Unit Transplantation?
During an FUT surgery, hair is transplanted from places on the scalp that are more resistant to thinning – usually the back and sides. The hair is removed in follicular units, which are groups of 1 to 4 hairs that occur naturally on the scalp. Those units are then grafted into tiny holes placed on the areas of the scalp that need assistance, called recipient sites.
Once the scalp is anesthetized, the doctor removes a piece of tissue from the back or side of the scalp, called the donor site, and then dissects it into follicular units. It is imperative to keep the units intact to preserve their growth potential. Once the units are ready for transplant, they are placed into the recipient sites in a way that mimics natural hair growth.
Because of the nature of thinning hair in women, surgeons must be skillful and artistic in their choices of donor and recipient sites. It is much easier to map out recipient sites for a bald area as opposed to dispersing sites all over the head to resolve thinning.
What are the side effects?
In prescription products like Minoxidil, side effects include backache, changes in hair color or texture, cold- or flu-like symptoms, continuous itching or skin rash, dental issues, eye irritation, irritation at the application site, and muscle spasm/strain. If a patient senses acne where the medication is applied, burning of the scalp, changes in blood pressure, dizziness, feeling faint, headaches, inflammation or soreness at the hair root, persistent rash, rapid heartbeat, sudden weight gain, swelling of the hands or feet, temporary hair loss, or unwanted facial hair growth, she should follow up with her physician immediately.
As with any surgery, recovery depends on the intricacy and scope of the procedure. After an FUT surgery, bandages, if needed, can usually be removed within 24 hours. By day 2, patients can wash their hair. If stitches were necessary, they can be removed in 7-10 days. Pain medication can be prescribed by your doctor.
Keep in mind that a lot of the transplanted hair is going to fall out within six weeks of the surgery, but this is just temporary. The FUT process moves healthy follicle units that are designed to regrow hair. Once you lose any hair, it should regrow at a normal rate.
Find Out More
Contact us today to set up a free, confidential consultation. We would love to help you put a few more of those menopause symptoms on “pause.”