Hair Loss in the News - Ricki Lake and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley Share Their Story

When we opened Medi Tresse almost five years ago, our goal was not just to offer great treatments to women experiencing hair loss, more than that, we wanted to help bring the conversation about female hair loss out in the open. Because our society has not been willing to have this conversation out in the open, many women experiencing hair loss never seek treatment, which causes them to feel like they have to suffer in silence and feel helpless about their situation. As a woman who has experienced hair loss, I know how deeply emotional the experience can be.  While we still have a ways to go with getting our society to truly have the discussion, recent stories from Ricki Lake and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley give me hope that we are moving in the right direction.  For those that have not seen their stories, I would describe both of them as heartbreaking and courageous. As different as their stories are, they both struggled in silence before gathering the courage to speak openly about their hair loss journey.  I am in awe of their courage.

I have placed their Instagram post's in full below, because each of their stories is so personal and I think it is important to hear them in their own words.

However, before getting to their posts, I just want to leave you with one big take away.  It is 2020 and celebrities and public officials that are experiencing hair loss are still feeling that they need to suffer in silence.  You can see how hard it was for Lake and Congresswoman Pressley to share their stories.  I hope their stories can help show you that while hair loss is very emotional, you are NOT alone. If you are experiencing hair loss, schedule an appointment with a female hair loss specialist that can diagnose the cause of your hair loss and help guide you through your treatment options, while providing you with the emotional support you need.  There is no need to suffer in silence anymore.

Ricki Lake's Post

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Liberated and Free, Me. First things first, I am not sick. (THANK GOD.) I am not having a mid-life crisis. nor am I having a mental breakdown, though I have been suffering. Suffering mostly in silence off and on for almost 30 years. AND I am finally ready to share my secret. Deep breath Ricki…. Here goes….. I have been struggling with hair loss for most of my adult life. It has been debilitating, embarrassing, painful, scary, depressing, lonely, all the things. There have been a few times where I have even felt suicidal over it. Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing. Not even my therapist/s over the years knew my truth. I know that by sharing my truth, I will be striking a chord with so so many women and men. I am not alone in this and my goal is to help others while at the same time unshackle myself from this quiet hell I have been living in. Ever since I played Tracy Turnblad in the original Hairspray back in 1988 and they triple-processed and teased my then healthy virgin hair every 2 weeks during filming, my hair was never the same. (Yes, that was all my own hair in the film.) From Hairspray to Hairless. 🙁 In my case, I believe my hair loss was due to many factors, yo-yo dieting, hormonal birth control, radical weight fluctuations over the years, my pregnancies, genetics, stress, and hair dyes and extensions. Working as talent on various shows and movies, whether DWTS or my talk show, also took its toll on my fine hair. I got used to wearing extensions, really just over the last decade. All different kinds, tried them all, the ones that are glued on, the tape-ins, the clip ins, and then into a total hair system that I hated, and finally to a unique solution that really did work pretty well for me for the last 4 or 5 years. I tried wigs on a few occasions but never could get used to them. It all felt fake and I was super self-conscious and uncomfortable. I’ve been to many doctors, gotten steroid shots in my head, taking all the supplements and then some. My hair would recover and then shed again. It was maddening. To read more: please go to my Facebook page. ❤️

A post shared by Ricki Lake (@rickilake) on

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley's Post

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As a Black woman, the personal is political. My hair story is no exception. Sharing a very personal story today to create space for others: @the.root

A post shared by Ayanna Pressley (@ayannapressley) on

Posted by Mary Wendel, MD

Update - Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy A Treatment Option for Alopecia Areata

Back in 2016 we wrote a blog post about how new research has shown Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy to be an effective treatment for Alopecia Areata.  It has now been three years since then and we wanted to provide an update on where we stand with utilizing PRP Therapy as a treatment for Alopecia Areata.  Before we get into the update, it is important to understand Alopecia Areata and how it is different from other forms of hair loss.  Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles, which causes inflammation around the follicle and ultimately causes the hair to fall out.  There are various types of Alopecia Areata and it can affect the scalp, eyebrows, or the hair all over your body.  It is important to understand that when a flareup occurs, the hair is not gone forever, and many patients are able to regrow their hair through various treatments.  However, due to the disease, a flareup can reoccur at any time causing the hair loss again.  Historically, the only treatment for Alopecia Areata was steroids, both injected and topically applied on the affected areas.  However, using steroids long term is never ideal and not all patients tolerate them well.

In the past three years we have had 6 patients with Alopecia Areata (with varying degrees of loss) that have moved forward with PRP Therapy.  Of these 6 patients, 4 saw benefit from the PRP Therapy and 2 did not.  Based on the current research and the small sample size we have seen in our office, we would certainly continue to offer PPR Therapy for Alopecia Areata, especially for those patients that tried steroids with little or no success.  Our PRP Therapy protocol for Alopecia Areata is slightly different than that of patients with other types of hair loss.  Our typical PRP Therapy protocol is to start with three treatments, however for patients with Alopecia Areata, if we see results during the treatment period we will complete up to 6 treatments to help stimulate further healing of the area.

If you have been struggling with Alopecia Areata and want to find out if Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy might be an option for you schedule your free consultation today with our medical team.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

Alopecia Areata Awareness Month

If you read our blogs last month, you would know that August was National Hair Loss Awareness Month and we tried to focus our blogs on providing important information on female hair loss as a whole.  September is also an important month, as it is Alopecia Areata Awareness month.  While considered a rare type of hair loss, Alopecia Areata still affects almost 7 million people in the US.  Alopecia Areata is actually an autoimmune disease, meaning the body causes inflammation around the hair follicle preventing it from growing. Most often it presents as a coin shaped lesion or discrete patches of hair loss with sharp borders. Less commonly it can be more diffuse.

Types of Alopecia Areata

While we often speak of Alopecia Areata in general terms, there are actually a few different types of it.  The most well known is Alopecia Areata, which presents as coin shaped lesions on the scalp, although the loss can occur on other areas of the body.  Alopecia Totalis presents as total loss of the hair on the scalp.  Alopecia Universalis presents as total loss of hair on the scalp, face, and body.  Less common forms of Alopecia Areata are Diffuse Alopecia Areata, which is very sudden loss and thinning across the entire scalp, and Ophiasis Alopecia, which has unique pattern of loss on the sides and lower back of the scalp[i].

Why Does it Occur?

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system is attacking the body. Much is still unknown about Alopecia Areata and why some people get it and what causes the flareups to occur.  While stress was often thought to be a trigger for flareups, there is little scientific evidence to prove this.

Can we Cure Alopecia Areata?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for any type of Alopecia Areata.  However, through treatment we try to stop the progression of the hair loss, and sometimes complete regrowth is possible.  It is important to understand that even if the hair completely regrows, a flare up can re-occur at any time, which will cause the hair loss to occur again.

Treatments for Alopecia Areata

Up until recently, Alopecia Areata was treated solely with steroids – both through injections into the area of loss in addition to topical creams.  Unfortunately, this still is not a cure and strong steroids are needed to illicit a positive response. Using these steroids long-term is never a favorable choice. Long-term use of steroids in the scalp can lead to thinning and weakening of the skin, as well as rebound irritation or skin reactions. Furthermore, because of the nature of the condition, most patients have to return multiple times a year to get more treatments.  In recent years we have also seen some success with treating Alopecia Areata with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy and Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT).

If you think you are experiencing Alopecia Areata it is important to see a hair loss specialist that can diagnose the cause of your hair loss so that you can start an appropriate treatment plan as soon as possible.

Posted by Your Medi Tresse Team

[i] (Naaf.org, 2019)

What Does The Recent Study of JAK Inhibitors Mean for Patients With Alopecia Areata?

 

Occasionally you may see stories on the news about promising studies regarding the use of JAK Inhibitors for the treatment of hair loss. JAK Inhibitors are a type of medication that inhibit one or more of the Janus kinase family of enzymes. There are two FDA approved JAK Inhibitors on the market today, one for the treatment of blood diseases and one for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. One such study was presented this month at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress in Paris.

The study was presented by Rodney Sinclair, MD and was a Phase IIA study that focused in the safety and efficacy of an oral JAK Inhibitor for the treatment of alopecia areata. Overall the study was promising for patients with alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, and alopecia universalis as the mean Severity Score of Alopecia Tool (SALT) score improved in all groups. One concern with the use of oral JAK Inhibitors are the potential for serious side effects, and two subjects of the study did get Rhabdomylosis, a serious muscle condition, which did reverse once stopping the medication.

What does this mean for patients experiencing alopecia areata? It is important to understand that as this was only a Phase IIA study, so more studies must be completed to ensure the safety and effectiveness of JAK Inhibitors for the treatment of alopecia areata. However, hopefully with more studies there is the potential for a medication that could help in the treatment of alopecia areata.

Posted by your Medi Tresse Team