A reader sent me this really sad story that got me thinking about hair restoration for women:
Happy, I wanted to share with you this picture of a woman who’s lost all hope. I saw her a few years back during my psychiatry rotation. As you can see, it looks like she’s going bald, but in fact, during her fits of rage and depression she’s actually pulling out her own hair. How sad is that? Just another example of what we docs take care of on a daily basis.
Man, that’s unbelievable. I don’t know much about classic female pattern baldness. From what I’ve read it’s usually a diffuse loss of hair everywhere or a central expansion of hair loss but rarely does it encompass the entire scalp. It’s usually caused by hormones, aging and genes. In advanced age, I’ve seen more than my fair share of elderly women who have more hair on their chin then they do on their head.
The only drug that I know of that has been FDA approved for hair restoration for women is minoxidil. I’ve seen a few women in my time who might benefit from hair restoration, although most of them are too old to care. They have long passed the point of no return. The ones with really bad diffuse hair loss are usually bed bound in a nursing home, and have long stopped caring about how they look.
Then there are the young, vibrant 70 to 80 year olds with breast augmentations, facelifts and enough makeup to bake a cake with. These women bring new meaning to the term hair restoration for women. I see one lady every now and then that comes in for her shortness of breath. She’s always wearing a wig and is always done up in makeup. I suppose a wig is the quickest and easiest form of hair restoration for women. I’ve seen some really good wigs and some really awful ones.
I’ve seen a few women who have resorted to hair plugs as their hair restoration technique. It’s painfully obvious that the scalp was never meant to be plugged.
Many women learn to work around their hair loss by styling their hair to cover up the bald spots. For a woman who is still a vibrant part of society, I suspect that hair loss can be traumatic to their confidence. In a society that values sex and looks, female pattern baldness drives a huge industry of hair restoration for women. Just Google “hair restoration for women” and you’ll find a large assortment of surgeons selling their cash only skills, selling magic hair loss potions, and reporting to have the magic answer to female pattern baldness.
For women whose sense of identity is driven by their femininity, there are lots of hair restoration for women experts just waiting to take their money and run.
In the case of the depressed and psychotic female above who’s pulling out her own hair during her fits of rage, I’m pretty sure her hair restoration answer doesn’t lie with the Hair Institute of New York or that magic cream imported from the Southeast Asia at $500 an ounce. Nope. In her situation there’s a $5 solution that’s guaranteed to work. I hate to say it but it’s true: mittens. Sometimes the cheapest answer is the best answer.
*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*