Monday, April 05, 2010
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Hair loss happens to women, too. The April issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers the most common cause of hair loss in women and treatment options.
Androgenetic alopecia (al-o-PE-she-uh) is the medical term for pattern hair thinning that affects women and, more commonly, men. This hair loss and gradual thinning are a normal part of aging. Genetics help determine when hair loss begins, how quickly it progresses and the pattern of hair loss. Unlike men, women with androgenetic alopecia usually maintain their frontal hairline and rarely experience complete balding. Instead, hair generally thins over the entire head. The most noticeable loss typically occurs along the part line and crown.
Although there's no cure, treatment options include:
Topical medication: Minoxidil (Rogaine) is the only approved medication to treat androgenetic alopecia in women. This nonprescription medication is available as a solution or foam. Women rub the medication into a dry scalp twice daily to slow hair loss and encourage regrowth. Typically, it takes at least six months to see results. Minoxidil doesn't work for everyone. If it is helpful, women must continue use to maintain results.
Hair transplants: A dermatologic surgeon transplants micrografts of skin containing hair follicles from one area of the scalp to another. Several transplant sessions may be needed to keep up with hereditary hair loss over time. The procedure generally is safe and effective with a normal success rate of more than 95 percent.
Scalp reduction and flap surgery: Scalp reduction is the surgical removal of scalp skin without hair. Flap surgery involves moving the scalp with hair to an adjacent area that's lacking hair. These surgeries, generally performed only on men, may benefit women in certain circumstances.
Nonmedical options: A different hairstyle, hairpiece or wig may cover hair loss.
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