What Is Traction Alopecia and is it Preventable?

Most people are familiar with the word alopecia, but may not realize that it is actually a term for all types of hair loss.  There are various types of alopecias, all having different causes and potentially necessitating different treatment plans.   The most common type of alopecia is Androgenic Alopecia, which in females is more commonly known as Female Pattern Hair Loss.  Other types of common alopecias include Telogen Effluvium, Alopecia Areata, and Traction Alopecia.  Today we are going to examine Traction Alopecia, which is quite different from other types of alopecias.

So what makes Traction Alopecia so different?  Unlike other types of hair loss, which are often due to causes out of our control, Traction Alopecia is often caused by the person experiencing hair loss.  Traction Alopecia is caused by pulling the hair too tightly over a prolonged period of time. This pulling puts stress and tension on the follicle and overtime it can damage the follicle enough that it will no longer produce hair.  Traction Alopecia can be caused by many hair styles, including tight pony tails, braids, cornrows, and extensions.  We most often see the hair loss in the temples or front of the hair line or between the braids or cornrows.

Traction Alopecia does not occur overnight and it does not mean you can never utilize hair styles that put tension on your hair.  However, if you want to prevent Traction Alopecia from occurring, it is best to avoid these types of hair styles every day or for a prolonged period of time.  If you want to use short term extensions for an evening that is fine, but getting more permanent extensions that stay in for weeks and months at a time can damage your hair.

The good news is that Traction Alopecia can be reversed if caught early.  With treatments like Optimal Platelet Concentration™ Therapy, Low Level Laser Therapy, topicals and supplements, we can rejuvenate the follicle to start regrowing hair.  However, over time it can become more difficult to treat.  If left untreated, the loss from Traction Alopecia can become permanent.  It is important to remember that with treatment you will also need to stop the styling practice that was damaging the hair.

If you believe you are experiencing Traction Alopecia, or any time of alopecia, it is best to see a hair loss expert as soon as possible so that they can properly diagnose the cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Medi Tresse Boston Female Hair Loss Seminar

We are excited to announce that on Thursday November 8th we will be hosting a free Female Hair Loss Seminar and Open House at our Wellesley office. Enjoy light fare and refreshments while learning about the latest advancements in female hair loss. Some highlights of the night include:

More details to come!

Interested in attending? Call our office at 774-314-3900 or email us at info@meditresse.com to RSVP.

Can Hair Styling Cause Hair Loss?

One question I hear from almost every woman I meet with is , “Does coloring or styling my hair cause or worsen my hair loss?” The answer to that question is “sometimes, but certainly not all the time.”

There is no evidence that coloring our hair causes hair loss. Having said that, I have seen women who have processed their hair excessively over a short period of time and have experienced severe shedding or damage to their hair. This is rarely permanent, and usually with careful styling and fewer chemicals the hair can recover. I have seen very severe loss from bleaching and stripping of color, but invariably there is recovery. If the scalp is severely burned from chemicals, resulting in blistering, there can be permanent scarring, but that is extremely rare.
If you are using chemicals which cause a burning sensation of the scalp, it is probably a good idea to stop using that particular product.

I would also avoid perming hair, because those chemicals are very strong. Chemical straighteners, or relaxers are particularly damaging to hair and the scalp. It is believed that these particular chemicals may be responsible for a higher likelihood of Scarring Alopecia in African American women, which can lead to permanent loss. This is why I encourage women to go to a professional salon, and ask for very gentle products and let the stylist know about your hair concerns.

In terms of styling hair, chronic pulling of the hair into tight braids, ponytails, corn rows, or dreadlocks can cause loss of hair due to stress on the hair follicles. Over time the damage can be permanent. This is known as Traction Alopecia. We recommend not keeping the hair in that type of style for very long. The hair follicles need to rest.

In general, I recommend trying to be as gentle as possible to your hair and scalp, especially if you are experiencing thinning. Washing your hair daily is usually not necessary, but doesn’t cause hair loss. It does dry out the hair, which causes breakage, but not thinning or loss. This is also true of hair dryers and hot combs. Condition your hair with every wash to keep in the moisture, don’t over process or over style your hair, and you will be rewarded with stronger healthier hair!

Posted by Dr. Mary Wendel

Comparing Hair Restoration Treatments - Hair Transplant vs Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy

Today’s blog post is the first in a series that we will be writing that compares different hair restoration treatments.  Thankfully, there are lots of great hair restoration treatments available today, however, with all of the options available, patients often are concerned they are not choosing the right one.  This series will give you the information you need to make the right choice for your hair restoration treatment.  Today we will compare one of the best known hair restoration techniques with one of the more recent non-surgical hair restoration techniques, hair transplants versus platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy.

Hair Transplants

In their current form, hair transplants look extremely natural and are the only permanent hair restoration solution, as your hair follicles are surgically being removed from the back of the head (the donor area) to the desired part of the scalp (the recipient area).  However, hair transplants can be painful as it is a surgical procedure and the recovery is typically 7 to 14 days.  Also, hair transplants are not always the best option for patients with female pattern hair loss (FPHL). Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) typically presents as diffuse thinning throughout the scalp, which means your hair is thinning everywhere.  Therefore, patients with female pattern hair loss (FPHL) may not have the required hair density in the donor area for a hair transplant.  Lastly, some women may be prone to shock loss from the surgery, which causes further loss, which may not recover.

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy

PRP Therapy is a minimally invasive non-surgical hair restoration treatment that has been shown to strengthen and thicken hair and reactivate dormant follicles.  Recent studies have shown up to 85% of patients will receive benefit from PRP therapy.  PRP Therapy uses your own blood and takes only 45 minutes to complete the session, and there is no real down time.  While PRP Therapy is not permanent solution, you can maintain results with booster treatments every 6 to 12 months after the first year.

Conclusion

For patients experiencing female pattern hair loss, that are looking to increase the thickness of their hair, decrease shedding, and re-activate dormant follicles, PRP Therapy is a great option.  If you have significant scalp showing in a certain area then you may want to look into a hair transplant, as PRP will not regrow hair in areas of scalp with no hair.  However, just remember, you need the required donor area and need to be able to tolerate moderate pain to have the hair transplant.  It is always important to see a hair loss specialist who will guide you through this process and insure you are choosing the best possible treatment for you.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Avoid The Crash Diet This Year

It’s hard to believe that the New Year is upon us! As we begin to prepare for the year ahead, New Year’s resolutions often involve new diets and weight loss goals, especially after the Holiday splurge! If losing weight is on your list of resolutions this year, we have a few tips for you.

What you may not be aware of is that both rapid and extreme weight loss, as well as crash diets can actually cause hair loss! Hair loss due to dieting is typically caused by deficiencies in key nutrients, especially if the diet involves food restrictions or limitations. However, often times it may just be due to the changes in your diet or the new drastic loss of weight. Drastic changes on the body, including loss of weight can put a lot of stress on the body. Hair follicles are very vulnerable to this, and often start to shed as a result! This is called Telogen Effluvium, and it is the body’s response to stress. Typically hair loss caused by dieting and weight loss is temporary and can be restored with the proper treatment plan and a balanced diet. However, the key is to lose weight safely in order to limit or avoid hair loss all together.

In order to lose weight you must decrease the number of calories that you take in, either by dieting, exercising, or both. Unfortunately, certain “fad diets” deprive the body of important nutrients that can affect hair growth! For example, while making dietary changes, you want to make sure that your body is still receiving enough biotin, iron, zinc, copper, protein, and vitamins A, C, and E. While it is always best to get these nutrients from natural sources, you should consider taking supplements and multivitamins to ensure your body is receiving the necessary levels of these nutrients, especially while pursuing a weight loss program.

 Lastly, it is important to avoid “shocking” your body with a crash diet. A crash diet is when you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time. Not only can this cause hair loss, but usually the loss is short lived and weight is gained back much easier then if it was lost slowly and safely. You never want to lose more than 2 pounds per week, and your diet changes and weight loss should be gradual.If you think you are suffering hair loss caused by recent weight loss or changes in diet, it is always best to consult a hair loss specialist that can diagnose the underlying cause of the hair loss and work with you to create a proper treatment plan. Medi Tresse is your local hair loss treatment team; we provide hair loss treatment to women throughout Boston and Massachusetts.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

What is the Hair Growth Cycle?

Did you know that the hairs on your head go through a constant life cycle?  While we often think of shedding as a negative, everyone sheds some hairs due to the normal hair life cycle (visible hair loss occurs when there is excessive shedding).  There are three phases of the normal hair life cycle: Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen.

Over time, due to genetics, it is possible for the entire hair life cycle to shorten.  This means overall your hairs are in the Anagen “growth” phase for less time, causing hairs to miniaturize as they have less time to grow healthy and thick.  This miniaturization is what we see with Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL).  The good news is that with the correct treatment this miniaturization can be halted and potentially reversed.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Does Minoxidil Work for Women?

While most patients are unaware of the name minoxidil, it is actually one of the earliest hair loss medications.  Minoxidil is the active ingredient of Rogaine®, one of the most well known hair loss medications, which has been around since 1988.  Rogaine® is actually the brand name of the medication, but the active ingredient, and what actually helps treat hair loss is called minoxidil.  Minoxidil is the only FDA approved topical product for androgenic alopecia.  Over the years Rogaine® has offered their product in both 2% and 5% minoxidil strength, and as both a liquid and foam.  So does minoxidil work for women?

Originally, minoxidil was formulated for the treatment of hypertension, however it was soon realized that minoxidil could help regrow hair.  It is not totally understood how minoxidil treats hair loss, but it is believed that it may allow for increased blood flow and, thus oxygen to the follicles.  However, minoxidil is best for the treatment of androgenic alopecia, also known as, female pattern hair loss.

At Medi Tresse, we recommend a minoxidil product called Formula 82M.  Formula 82M is a specially compounded minoxidil solution that is formulated to be absorbed at a higher rate, while being less greasy and less irritating than other minoxidil products.  We have found that our patients have had a lot of success with Formula 82M, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments like Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy or a Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) device like a laser cap.

If you think you may want to try a minoxidil product it is best to first speak with a hair loss specialist that can help determine if it may be an appropriate treatment for your type of hair loss.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Debunking Myths About Hair Loss

The internet is great for lots of things, however, when it comes to getting the facts about female hair loss, the internet can sometimes be a scary place.  Unfortunately, there are lots of myths out there about female hair loss, so we decided to review some of the most common ones and tell you the facts.

  1. Hair loss is only a problem for men - This could not be further from the truth.  While female hair loss is not discussed as often as male hair loss, women make up 40% of the hair loss sufferers in the US.
  2. You receive your hair loss genes from your mother’s family – Unfortunately, genetic hair loss can come from both your mother or your father.
  3. Genetics are the cause of my hair loss – While the majority of women experiencing hair loss do have androgenic alopecia (genetic hair loss), there can be many causes for hair loss including, but not limited to, diet, medication, lifestyle, hormonal changes, or over styling hair.
  4. Hair loss is permanent – The good news is that it is not true that hair loss is always permanent. The first step is determining the type of hair loss and the cause, but in many cases, there can be some regrowth. However, the longer you wait the more difficult it is to see complete regrowth.
  5. Showering too much causes hair loss – It is important to know that showering and washing your hair does not cause hair loss. However, if you only wash your hair a few times a week, it may look as if you have shed excessively, but in reality, you are just washing away hairs that you have shed since your last shampoo.

While these are only some of the more common myths, there are many other myths out there about female hair loss.  If you have any questions or concerns it is best to speak to a hair loss specialist that can help you determine fact from fiction.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Will I Shed More During the Fall?

With Labor Day fast approaching, summer is unfortunately coming to an end.  While we do enjoy the crisp mornings and fall foliage, a lot of our patients have been wondering if and how the change in season can affect their hair.

Patients often tell us they notice more shedding during certain times of the year. Because everyone’s hair cycle is different, we can certainly see a correlation of hair growth or shedding with certain seasons for some patients.  During the summer months, the body tends to hold on to hairs to protect the scalp against the harsh midday sun. To compensate, the hair follicles tend to elongate their growth phase in order to provide coverage and shelter for the scalp. As the sun’s threatening rays start to diminish during the changing season, the hairs return to their usual cycle and start to shed as a result.

However, the change is not very noticeable in the majority of people. The truth is, there are other factors such as age, styling, hormones, and genetics that play a more dominant role in our changing hair.  If you think you are experiencing a seasonal shed, I suggest wait for the season to change, chances are the shedding will too! However, when in doubt, it is best to consult a hair loss expert.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

How Often Should I See My Hair Loss Specialist?

Your follow up visits provide an opportunity to track your results, update your hair loss specialist on any changes in diet or medications, and to potentially change the treatment plan if necessary.  So how often should you see your hair loss specialist? Just like visiting your dentist (although hopefully less painful!), at Medi Tresse we recommend follow up visits every six months.

Tracking your results is extremely important, and any hair loss specialist should be taking photos and doing trichoscopy (which is highly magnified photos where you measure the hair) to track your progress.  As you see your hair every day, it is often difficult to notice changes, but in your follow ups you will easily be able to track your progress throughout treatment.

The follow up is an important time to update your hair loss specialist of any major changes in your diet or medications.  A major diet change, like becoming a vegetarian, could affect your hair loss if you are not receiving enough vitamins and nutrients.  Some medications have been found to induce hair loss, and your hair loss specialist can help guide you through if the medication could be problematic to your hair.

For most patients, hair loss is progressive, which means that it will continue to get worse if not treated correctly.  By seeing your hair loss specialist every six months, you can ensure that if you need to make changes to your treatment plan, it is done in timely fashion.  The earlier hair loss is treated, the better chance there is for re-thickening and re-growth during treatment.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team