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Hair loss is relatively common in women with about 30% experiencing at least some degree of thinning in their lifetime. Because female hair loss tends to be diffuse (less hair all over), rather than showing the characteristic “patterned alopecia” of men, and the fact that the frontal hairline in women is often maintained, there is a misconception that hair loss in women is rare – but it is not.

The psychological effects of hair loss can be significant, and many women are emotionally affected even when thinning is in its very early stages. This is, in part, due to the assumption that few women lose their hair and that, in contrast to men, where it is “OK to be bald,” any hair loss in women is socially unacceptable. Both of these erroneous perceptions make dealing with hair loss particularly difficult for women.

To add to the problem, the widely used medication, Propecia, is not indicated for women, so there is a perception that medical progress in treating female hair loss is not as advanced, or that the medical community does not take the treatment of female hair loss as seriously. Lastly, because hair loss in women can so often be disguised with existing hair, many women choose to hide their hair loss from others. Not sharing their problem tends to isolate them and makes the ability to deal with their hair loss more difficult.

Hair loss in women is generally very gradual, with the rate accelerating during pregnancy and at menopause. It is more often cyclical than in men, with seasonal changes that reverse themselves, and it is more easily affected by hormonal changes, medical conditions, and external factors.

Fortunately, since most of the time women’s hair loss is relatively mild and progresses very slowly, it is rare for women to lose so much hair that they can’t hide the thinning with creative styling techniques and it is extremely uncommon for women to develop an area that is totally devoid of hair.

The most common pattern of hair loss in women is diffuse and since a diffuse pattern can be caused by a number of medical conditions other than common genetic hair loss, a thorough evaluation is particularly important. If an underlying medical cause can be found and treated, the hair loss can often be reversed.

The development of new surgical techniques, particularly Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation, allow many women who are losing their hair to have a completely natural restoration. When performed on a good candidate, this female hair transplant procedure can produce a dramatic change in a woman's appearance.