Hair Transplant Surgery For Traction Alopecia
Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss that occurs as a result of the continuous pulling force exerted on the hair roots by certain hairstyles. When a person plaits braids, or go for other hairstyles like buns or ponytails, this results in tension that gets exerted at the root of the hair. When such tension becomes continuous over a long period of time, the affected hair strands become loosely positioned in the hair follicles — a condition that can cause them to break off and lead to hair loss. Hair transplant surgery can be an effective treatment for traction alopecia, restoring hair in areas where it has been lost.
Who can develop traction alopecia?
Since this form of hair loss is attributed to hairstyles that have a pulling nature, people who do braids, dreadlocks, weaves, and others like ponytails have an increased risk of developing traction alopecia than those who do not.
In a review published by John Hopkins Medicine, traction alopecia was found to have a strong connection with scalp-pulling hairstyles. And since patients from an African-American background tend to style their hair in similar ways, traction alopecia was found to affect about one-third of them, mainly women. Thus, solidifying its place as the leading cause of hair loss among this group of women.
That being said, traction alopecia can affect anyone that continuously pulls on their hair when they style and groom it.
How is traction alopecia treated?
According to most sources, the best way to treat traction alopecia is by prevention. This includes letting your hair fall and rest without tension. If hair damage has already started, but hasn’t caused permanent loss, then doctors often recommend behavioural changes and one or more medications. However, when traction alopecia has caused hair loss, then one of the options to treat the affected area is a hair transplant.
What is a hair transplant?
A hair transplant is a medical procedure that involves moving hair from the back or sides of the head to a bald area of the scalp. It is usually carried out to reverse permanent hair loss. In conditions like traction alopecia, especially when it gets to a chronic stage, hair transplants can be the best way to restore hair growth.
Hair transplant for traction alopecia
The two most common hair transplant techniques used in treating traction alopecia are the Follicular Unit Excision (FUE)and Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) methods. Often hair transplant surgery for traction alopecia will involve transplanting hair into the temples, hairline and sideburns as these are the most common areas affected by the condition.
Follicular unit excision, FUE hair transplant for traction alopecia
- In follicular unit excision, individual hair follicles are extracted directly from the donor site of the scalp — which is usually the back of the head.
- After extracting these follicles, the surgeon makes tiny little holes at the recipient area of the scalp, and then carefully place new hair into these holes.
- At a single transplanting session, the surgeon can harvest and transplant hundreds or even thousands of hair follicles.
- Due to the amount of time required to do this kind of procedure, one may have to do several sessions before getting their desired hair growth in an area affected by traction alopecia
Follicular unit transplant for traction alopecia
- In a follicular unit transplant, a surgeon uses a scalpel to cut out a strip of scalp skin, usually from the back of the head. After taking out the incision, which is typically several inches long, the surgeon then stitches up the affected area.
- The next stage involves taking the extracted scalp or incision, and separating it into numerous individual grafts, from which individual hair follicles are extracted too.
- After preparing individual hair follicles, the next step is to transplant them into the area affected by hair loss. This involves making delicate tiny holes in the scalp, and then re-implanting the prepared hair follicles. The process can take several hours for a large area affected by traction alopecia
Recovery after a traction alopecia hair transplant
After a hair transplant for traction alopecia, it will take some time for your hair to grow. This is because the transplanted hair follicles must fully adjust and fit in properly in their new environment before they can start growing just like the other hairs. Generally, it can take up to 3 months before you begin to notice any significant hair growth.
Commonly, patients find that their transplanted hair sheds after a few weeks following surgery. This hair loss is termed shock shedding, and is considered a natural part of post-hair transplant processes.
Following the surgery, doctors often recommend medications to reduce pain, antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection, and anti-inflammatory drugs to lower inflammation of the scalp. Most patients have fully recovered after their hair transplant after 7 days have passed.
Aftercare for traction alopecia hair transplant
Your doctor can also recommend the intake of certain vitamins and minerals. Popular ones include vitamin C, vitamin D, biotin, and other B-group vitamins. Vitamin C in particular can help accelerate the healing process of your scalp due to its involvement in wound healing processes, especially if the follicular unit transplant (FUT) technique was used for your surgery. Others like biotin have gained popularity for helping with hair growth and improving the mechanical strength of hair strands, thanks to its ability to boost keratin production.
Apart from medications and supplements, there are many numerous post-transplant instructions that must be followed. Some of them include:
- Avoiding exercise for 2 weeks
- Avoiding direct strong sunlight for 2-4 weeks
- Avoiding harsh chemicals on your hair for as long as possible following surgery
- Stopping the styling of hair that causes traction on existing and newly growing hair as this can cause hair transplant failure
Traction alopecia is mostly caused by hairstyles that create a pulling force on the roots of the hair. When noticed early enough, it can be prevented and successfully treated. But when left unnoticed, it can lead to permanent hair loss — a condition that can be treated with a hair transplant.
If you are exploring having a hair transplant for traction alopecia, book your consultation today. Our lead surgeons will be more than happy to give you more information on the personalised hair transplant service we offer at The Treatment Rooms London.
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