Do All Women with Hair Loss Actually Qualify for a Hair Transplant?

It appears that hair loss transplants are easier for men than for women. What are the reasons? What would be a reason that a woman would not qualify? Age? taking certain medications?

Doctor Answers (13)

Hair transplant in women

+2

Women can certainly be candidates for hair transplantation but there are some factors that make it very important to individually assess a woman interested in the procedure.

In most men, a diagnosis of hereditary thinning is obvious from the pattern of hair loss and duration.  In women, the typical pattern of hair loss in hereditary thinning can be mimicked by other conditions such as telogen effluvium and alopecia areata (which would not do well with hair transplantation).  In other words, it is a bit more difficult but very important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of hair loss in women to determine if hair transplantation is likely to be successful.

Other issues in women include the fact that having "some" hair is a desirable outcome in men.  Thin hair in women is considered less acceptable by many and female patients may not be happy with the increased density that comes from a transplant - they may really wish to have their full head of hair back (not possible with transplanting). 

Other things for women to consider include:

1. The density even after transplantation  will likely not be the same as in  youth and that particularly in women interested in restoration of their original look, this can lead to less than complete satisfaction with the results.  In essence, women with fairly large areas of thinning cannot be transplanted with any significant density over the entire affected area with available donor hair.
2. The most satisfied female patients are those with relatively circumscribed areas of hair thinning that can be happy with some thickening especially behind the hairline to minimize the appearance of scalp being visible.
3. Depending on the diagnosis, women may have ongoing hair loss.  If this is so, then  there is also increased likelihood of that  further hair loss detracting from the effect of the transplantation.  Analogy: If you add water to the bathtub but the drain  is open, you may not notice the extra water you've added.

Depending on the case,  in women who do have a hair transplant, we discuss the need for further transplantation after any initial session either  for more density or to balance any ongoing hair loss which is possible because of the  underlying diagnosis. 

Having said this, I'd emphasize the importance of the consultation to establish the diagnosis and reasonable expectations for the results.  I'd also point out that many female patients can be very happy with hair transplantation if they carefully consider the issues above.


Seattle Dermatologic Surgeon

Female Hair Transplant Patients

+1
Although I see a number of female hair transplant patients at my La Jolla, CA hair restoration clinic, it's true that the majority of my patients are men. There are a few different reasons for this disparity.

Generally, hair loss follows a more predictable pattern in men than it does in women. This makes it easier to create a favorable, long-lasting outcome. Additionally, the causes of hair loss in men and women are often different. While most hair loss in men is caused by genetics, hair loss in women is often due to an underlying medical condition, such as a thyroid issue. This can make effective hair restoration tricky.

The quality of women's hair is sometimes a factor, as well. To be successful, patients must have enough good-quality donor hair to be added to areas of hair loss. Women's hair is sometimes too fine or sparse for a hair transplant procedure to be effective. If a woman is not a candidate for hair transplant, she can often get good results from some non-surgical options. Thanks for your question.

Richard Chaffoo, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Not all women hair transplant candidates

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Probably 80-90 % of men with genetic hair loss that come into the office are good candidates for  a hair transplant. They have good quality thick hairs in the back that grow extremely well when moved to the front. 

However, only 30-60 % of women are good candidates. The actual percentage can actually be debated for hours and hours - but the one message is clear: not all women are good candidates. 

The reason is that many women with genetic hair loss have poor quality donor hair. Instead of having thick hairs at the back of the scalp that we can use in a hair transplant, they have thin hair. We call this "miniaturized" hair. 

Not all women have hair follicle miniaturization in the hairs at the back of the scalp - but a significant proportion do. If we take these miniaturized hairs from the back and put them in the front, they either don't grow well or they fall out in a matter of a few.years. 

The end result is a poor cosmetic outcome. Hair transplants in women are reserved for women with good donor hair. 

Jeff Donovan, MD, PhD
Toronto Dermatologist

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Women and Hair Transplant

+1

Not all women qualify for hair transplant, nor do all men, for that matter. To undergo hair transplant you must have enough donor hair to supply a satisfactory result. Women with excessive scalp thinning may become candidates for body hair transplant. Other disqualifiers are anesthesia allergies, blood clotting abnormalities, and scarring tendency.

 

Prior to ever undergoing hair transplant, women should be evaluated by a dermatologist for treatable causes of hair loss, such as thyroid disease and anemia.

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
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Most are good candidates

+1

Of the women that I see in consultation, about 80% are good candidates for hair transplant, only 20% of the women may not have sufficient acceptable donor site for at least one small session of 800-1200FuE (grafts).
Acceptable donor is hair that is judged to be permanent and that lies in  the area of the scalp considered to be the donor area for males.
Although many of the women we see have more then one such session available in their donor area,if even one procedure is carried out in well-chosen cosmetically important area, they can achieve a very satisfying cosmetic result.

Gregory Turowski, MD, PhD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Hair loss and hair transplants for women

+1

The most common reason for hair loss in women is thyroid disease or another medical disorder.  Only a limited percent of women are candidates for hair transplant.  The good candidates have a strong family history of male pattern baldness and tend to be bald on top with thick excellent donor hair in back.  If a person has diffuse, thin hair everywhere they are not a good candidate.  About 15% of my hair transplant patients are women but they must be good candidates. 

Jack Fisher, MD
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
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Hair Transplant in Women

+1

In general, women do not follow the same predictable hair loss tendencies as men do and often have different causes of hair loss then men.  If a patient has diffuse thinning then it can be hard to find areas to take the hair from that aren't noticeable.  However, more and more there are creative ways to get around these issues to get great, very natural results.  Good luck!

Hannah Vargas, MD
Kansas City Facial Plastic Surgeon
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Women's Hair Loss and Hair Transplants in Women

+1

Women experience hair loss for a number of reasons including genetics, hormones, medications, stress, pregnancy, illness, etc. The difference, however, is that men experience mainly pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia), which produces a more predictable hair-loss pattern remedied with hair transplant surgery and prevented by well described medications. One requirement of hair transplant surgery is an adequate donor region from which follicular grafts can be taken for transplant into balding regions. Men with male pattern baldness generally start losing the hair on the top of their head first, so there is typically an adequate donor region on the back, bottom half of their scalps for donor follicle harvest.


Whether or not a woman qualifies for hair transplant surgery depends on the cause of her hair loss. Since there are multiple causes in women, the correct diagnosis must be made before transplant surgery can be considered. In some instances, women experience temporary hair loss due to hormones or medications or a condition called alopecia areata. This temporary hair loss frequently regrows so no surgery is necessary. Good donor density is also crucial for success in hair transplantations in women.  I would suggest going to see a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss and hair restoration to first determine the reason for hair loss and then determine the most appropriate treatment method, which may or may not include hair transplant surgery.

Edmond Griffin, MD
Atlanta Dermatologic Surgeon

Do All Women with Hair Loss Actually Qualify for a Hair Transplant?

+1

No actually.  A defined area of loss is the best situation for results. Generalized thinning is not the best situation for transplants.  Also, active autoimmune hair loss is no indication for transplants.

 

Peter Malouf, DO
Dallas Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 79 reviews

Women hair transplants

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Hair transplants in women are becoming much more popular. The most popular reason in my practice for hair transplants in women is thinning of the hair along the frontal hairline due to a variety of reasons.

Kevin Ende, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.