What is Female Pattern Hair Loss and How is it Different from Men?
Women with receding hairlines and or thinning hair are experiencing what is known as female pattern hair loss, a fairly common occurrence. The condition varies slightly from male pattern baldness but can have a much greater impact because of less forgiving social norms regarding the appearance of women in public.
Hair loss (or alopecia) for women is usually characterized by the hair ‘thinning’ rather than ‘receding’ as it does with men. It may appear as irregular patches anywhere on the scalp or at the hairline where it is more visible.
Causes of Thinning Hair in Women
There are multiple causes of thinning hair in women ranging from illness, to hormonal imbalance, to genetic factors, and of course, the natural aging process.
One of the most common causes of thinning hair is the ponytail. Thinning hair is a common occurrence in hair that is kept constantly braided or tightly pulled back in a tight ponytail, pigtail or braid. This sort of hair thinning is called Traction Alopecia.
The other common cause of hair loss is called Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA)–a condition that causes hair loss near the temples and at the front of the scalp. Most common in postmenopausal women FFA can also occur in women of all ages.
Both Traction and Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia are progressive conditions which may worsen over time unless appropriate interventional surgical hair loss action is taken. Any type of hair thinning before the age of fifty should prompt a medical workup and a consultation with a specialist in hair restoration. These doctors will be familiar with the main causes of hair thinning and may order tests themselves or refer you out to a specialist for specialized testing.
At What Age Does Female Pattern Hair Loss Typically Occur?
Female pattern hair loss may occur at around the age of 30, or in cases of illness, as early as in the 20s. Thinning hair usually becomes noticeable around age 40, and maybe even more noticeable after menopause. By the age of 50, almost half of women will experience some degree of hair thinning. Female pattern hair loss is quite common but often very well masked in our society.
High Hairlines May Also Convey a “Masculine” Appearance
Another factor in receding hairlines is that some women may already have a naturally high hairline to begin with. A high hairline may make the female forehead appear larger and more prominent, and therefore more masculine in appearance, without any actual hair loss or thinning being present.
The Solution: Hairline Lowering/Advancement for Women
The hairline lowering/advancement procedure is performed by your surgeon making a trichophytic incision along the natural hairline and then carefully moving the scalp forward and downwards on the forehead. The hair-bearing tissue is then moved forward and sutured into its new lower position. After suturing, the individual hair follicles may also be transplanted to fill in gaps and to ensure that the hairline is natural in appearance.
The use of hair transplants also work to normalize the shape of the new hairline and also to minimize the appearance of any scarring as hair grows through and over the incision line. In most cases, after surgery, there is only a very minimal, barely visible scar at the hairline. This scar will eventually fade to become nearly invisible over time.
Read more about Forehead Reduction / Hairline Lowering, or read one of our most popular blog articles on the topic: Debunking Three Common Myths About Female Hairlines.
Dr. Deschamps-Braly is a board-certified plastic and craniofacial surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery, orthognathic (jaw) surgery, and craniofacial surgery for adults and children. He is also one of the world’s foremost leaders and innovators in facial gender confirmation surgery.