While not as commonly discussed as male pattern baldness, female hair loss is a real problem that can be treated with a hair transplant just as male hair loss is. The problem, which is most likely to appear when a woman is in her 40s or 50s and could be an indication of a serious medical condition, also can be treated with a variety of non-surgical alternatives. If those fail, there are two main types of female hair transplant surgery — one that moves hair from one part of the scalp to another, and one that involves removing the portions of scalp that lack hair.
Before recommending female hair transplant surgery, many physicians and hair transplant specialists will recommend less invasive, non-surgical alternatives to fight hair loss; these include laser therapy and simple, over-the-counter female hair restoration products. Women who decide to use over-the-counter products are urged only to use products specifically designed for women unless prescribed a stronger product by a doctor. More powerful formulas designed for men can cause some women to grow unwanted facial hair. Medications designed specifically for women will contain lower doses of minoxidil, the first drug ever approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to re-grow hair. Laser therapy is another non-invasive alternative to surgery that is a good alternative for people with sensitive skin or who might be allergic to topically applied hair restoration products.
When non-invasive methods of hair restoration fail, female hair transplant surgery is an option. Female hair transplant operations have such a high success rate that many women who see results with non-surgical hair restoration therapies still decide to undergo a female hair transplant. This is because non-surgical solutions are only temporary and hair loss will more than likely continue once the therapy is discontinued for an extended period of time.
When female hair transplant surgery is the choice for hair restoration, there are two choices. The first choice, which is most common, requires hair to be removed from one area of the scalp and grafted onto the site where re-growth is desired. Donor tissue is usually collected from the back of the scalp, because that hair usually continues to grow strong even while hair on the top of the scalp begins to thin. Once transferred, the donor hair retains its original properties and is able to grow as normal, filling in areas of baldness with the patient’s own hair. The patch of scalp at the donor site should remain healthy through the transplant and continue growing new hair like normal.
The second type of female hair transplant surgery is called scalp reduction surgery. It involves slowly stretching the portions of scalp with healthy growing hair over the portions with weak and thinning hair. Areas of scalp unable to produce hair are removed.
In the early days of female hair transplant surgery, "hair plugs" became the name synonymous with the blotchy and very noticeable outcome of the relatively primitive surgical technology. Early procedures created an obvious patch of transplanted hair on the patient's scalp. As technology has improved and methods of female hair transplant surgery have been perfected, the product of surgery today is much less noticeable and blends almost flawlessly with the patient's normal head of hair.