There is so much emotion tied into our hair—
whether we wear it long, short, natural
textured or color-treated, we don’t call it our
“crowning glory” for nothing. Despite the
importance we place on our hair, the fact
remains that nearly 30 million women live
with hair loss or thinning hair. For many, hair loss is directly
linked to genetics, but other factors like diet, illness, stress and
aging can exacerbate the problem. Rather than letting this issue
affect our self-esteem and how we see ourselves, there is now
a myriad of options for getting back to our healthy hair roots.
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Ways to Get Thicker Hair
Hair growth can significantly decrease
due to many factors, which results in
thinning and hair loss. When hair follicles
temporarily stop growing and begin to shed,
it’s usually because they’ve been exposed
to certain stressors. As hair gets thinner over
time, it’s due to the follicles producing finer
hairs over consecutive cycles.
The diameter of the hair fiber then becomes
thinner and the growth cycle becomes
shorter. Here are four ways top hair-restoration experts are helping patients
combat the problem.
The At-Home Device
At-home light therapy caps provide
low-level laser therapy (LLLT) by using
light at specific wavelengths to promote
blood circulation in the scalp.
Who It’s For: Those seeking a gradual solution
Who It’s Not For: “Pregnant women and
patients with diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid
gland disorders or cancer,” explains
Beverly Hills, CA hair transplant surgeon
Dr. Craig L. Ziering.
What to Expect: LLLT brings fresh oxygen
and nutrients to the scalp to nourish it at the
follicular level, promoting new hair growth
and thicker hair texture. Handheld tools can
be used at home, but it is always advisable to
undergo light therapy under the supervision
of a hair-restoration expert. “LLLT is designed
to improve follicle function and reverse the
effects of hair loss by helping the follicles
produce thicker, longer, healthier and
improved pigmented hair,” says Dr. Ziering.
The All-Natural Route
The popularity of using platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to treat hair loss is
largely due to the protocol’s minimally
invasive technique of using the patient’s
own growth factors and body nutrients.
Who It’s For: “Anyone suffering from
androgenetic alopecia for less than three
to five years,” advises Englewood Cliffs, NJ
dermatologist Jeffrey Rapaport, MD.
Who It’s Not For: “Patients who have any
underlying medical causes of hair loss such
as an autoimmune disease, iron deficiency,
anemia or a hormonal abnormality,” says
Beverly Hills, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD. “Also, people who have a scalp disease such as a scarring alopecia.”
What to Expect: PRP entails drawing 11 or 22
milliliters of blood, spinning down the plasma
in a special centrifuge, extracting the PRP, and
then injecting it into the subdermal areas of
the scalp. “I combine this treatment with an
oral supplement, Nutrafol, and a proprietary
topical and low-energy laser treatment,” says
Dr. Shamban. After the treatment, Dr. Rapaport
recommends patients “go home and take a hot
shower, shampoo and massage the scalp, and
avoid using chemicals, color or hair fibers for
24–48 hours afterward.” While some published
results appear encouraging, there can be
variability in technique and outcome. “I
combine PRP with Acell, and when done
every 12 to 18 months, PRP slows down
shedding, stabilizes hair loss, and promotes
overall hair quality and health.”
The RX or OTC Method
Hair-loss medications work to
block the hormones that lead
to hair miniaturization.
Who They’re For: A doctor will advise whether
prescription birth control pills, spironolactone
or, for post-menopausal women, finasteride
(aka Propecia), is best. Topical minoxidil
(found in Rogaine) up to 5 percent has been
approved for OTC use for women.
Who They’re Not For: Finasteride isn’t
recommended for women who haven’t gone
through menopause; topical minoxidil can
cause scalp irritation.
What to Expect: During the first few weeks of
treatment, additional shedding may occur as hair switches from a dormant to active phase.
Maximum results can be seen by 12 months.
“I always recommend patients stay on Rogaine
and Propecia, even after a hair transplant,
because it will only further nourish the other
native hairs that may have a proclivity to thin
and miniaturize,” says Beverly Hills, CA facial
plastic surgeon Natalie Attenello, MD.
The Modern-Day Transplant
Hair-restoration surgery is the only
permanent option to treat hair loss.
Whereas other treatments work to slow hair
loss, surgery helps place hair where there isn’t
any. “Surgery should be the last resort if all
attempts to slow down or stop the progression
of hair loss have been exhausted,” says
Dr. Ziering. “It’s also important to note that
nonsurgical approaches can be combined
with surgical protocols for a more integrated
approach to treating hair loss.”
Who It’s For: Those with hair loss attributed
to genetic/hormonal issues, or from scarring
Who It’s Not For: Those with severe keloid
scarring or scarring alopecia
Procedure Time: Approximately eight hours,
depending on the procedure
Recovery Time: About one week
What to Expect: The donor site (at the back
of the scalp) is anesthetized and a strip of
hair containing the follicles is removed, which
are then harvested under a microscope and
the hairs are divided into follicular units, or
groups of one, two or three hairs; or the donor
site can be shaved and follicles removed one
by one via fue. The areas where the units
will be transplanted are also anesthetized
and the transplanted hair is placed.
Post-Surgery: Minor discomfort and swelling
may occur, but subsides after a few days.
Scabbing at the transplant site is common.
“The first three days post-op, I recommend
applying ice, massaging periodically and
sleeping at a 45-degree angle to avoid forehead
edema,” says Dr. Ziering. “Also, no sun exposure
for at least three months to avoid risk of
hyperpigmentation.” Some growth can be seen
at three months; more growth will be visible
in six to nine months. “The transplanted hairs
quickly become ‘rooted’ into the scalp, and
after a short resting period of a few months,
they begin to grow permanently for the rest
of your life,” says Dr. Attenello.
The Life Cycle of Hair Growth
Phase 1: Hair Starts Growing
Known as the anagen phase, this is
when cells in the root divide and create
new hair at the base of the follicle,
which pushes the previous strand out.
Hair grows close to the scalp and
extends down as it continues to grow.
Phase 2: Hair Takes a Break
The catagen phase is when hair
begins to transition after it reaches
maximum growth capacity and “takes
a break.” At this stage it’s still attached
to the root, but it stops growing and
prepares to fall out and renew itself.
Phase 3: Hair Is at Rest
Called the telogen phase, this
is when hair is at rest, and then
eventually it is released and falls out.
Afterward, the follicle remains
inactive for three months and the
entire cycle begins again.
Enviable Lashes and Brows
It just takes one Instagram scroll
to see that long lashes and thick
brows are two of the most covetable
features on the face. But just as
hair on our heads start to thin,
so can our lashes and brows.
Whether the cause of thinning brows
is years of plucking, waxing, tweezing
or threading, or they’re just thinning
out on their own, there are solutions.
To permanently enhance sparse
eyebrows or bald patches due to a
medical condition, medication or the
aging process, an eyebrow transplant
may be the best option. During the
procedure, the doctor will use local
anesthesia to remove donor hair from
the back of the head and transplant
it to the eyebrows. Once the area
is fully healed, it will be nearly
impossible to locate the scar.
What to Expect: After surgery, the area
may be sore or swollen. During the
first few days, scabbing or crusting
may occur around the hair follicle in
the brow line. Sutures at the donor
site will be removed after one week.
Procedure Time: Around two hours
Recovery Time: Three to seven days
Aging can cause the eyelashes to
become weak and prone to breakage,
making them look short, thin or
sparse. An eyelash transplant can
permanently restore the hair. Eyelash
restoration surgery can lengthen
lashes and jump-start a healthy
growth cycle, but it can’t make lashes thicker or fuller like mascaras and
false eyelashes. It’s more for replacing
What to Expect: The surgery, which
can only be done on the upper lashes,
uses small grafts of donor hair from
the scalp. In the first few days after
surgery, the areas may crust, swell or
become pink. It can take two months
for hair to begin growing and one
year to see the final result.
Procedure Time: Two to four hours
Recovery Time: Three to seven days