For a self-confessed 'social phobic' and 'introvert' it seems extraordinary that twenty year old film student Rebecca Brown now finds herself the unlikely poster girl and hairoine of trichotillomania (hair loss caused by compulsive hair pulling), attracting up to 12 million viewers worldwide to her YouTube video diaries and being invited to speak at a trichotillia convention in the US recently. But strangely enough 'BeckieO', as she calls herself online, found it easier to webcam herself talking frankly to a load of strangers around the world about her life and her condition than she did to confront her catcalling school bullies. Or see a sympathetic counsellor for a listen and nod session. It had also struck Beckie that when she herself was searching for information online, she could find only a few random (and often grainy) individuals who had filmed themselves talking about their problems. Beckie felt she could do better.
With trichotillia representing the last big taboo of hair loss, this is no ordinary feat. With all the horror stories about cyber-bullying we hear on a daily basis, this approach could easily have backfired, but much to her surprise and delight Beckie touched a public nerve and found that far from bullying and mockery, she received overwhelming messages and letters of support, many from those secretly suffering the same condition and wanting to share their stories or seek her advice. A miracle ensued and Beckie now sports a pixie mop of blonde hair to set off her Betty Boop eyes and pretty features. She credits the overwhelmingly positive public response with finally helping her overcome her own condition after eight years, a condition undiagnosed by doctors for five years, one of whom merely told her to 'stop fidgeting'.
While trichotillomania can be triggered by childhood trauma, Beckie says that in her case, hair pulling was simply a comforting habit she found herself resorting to when stressed or upset, until before she knew it entire bald patches were appearing, but by then it had become a compulsion she could not stop. She experimented with wigs for a while and then at its worst a year ago, she shaved all her hair off.
Trichotilliomania is believed to affect up to four in every hundred people, mostly under the age of 30, which puts it on a par with anorexia, so it is certainly time the condition finally came out of the closet, or rather, the closet door was kicked open!
While we at eMPower can offer an excellent cosmetic solution indistinguishable from scalp-grown hair, clients may also wish explore hypnotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy, both of which can help the psychological side of their condition, although depending on the level of permenant damage, not all hair may grow back even where a psychological cure is affected. It looks like Beckie has been very lucky in this respect.
Who does he think he's kidding? Why doesn't he just admit he was starting to recede a bit at the sides and decided to do something about it?
Reasonably painless as it now is, no one undergoes this procedure for no reason, or for fun, even where money is not an issue.
Nevertheless we trust Mr Williams will enjoy good results, which he should do unless his hair decides to carry on receding, in which case repeat transplants will become necessary as time goes on.
Weeks after American company Alvi Armani Hair Loss Research announced it is discontinuing work on hair cell cloning owing to the technical complexities to focus on its patented TR1 Natural Plant extract (for which they are claiming up to 38% better results over AMA-approved treatments Minoxidil and Finasteride), British scientists have claimed to be getting better cloning results, purely by turning over the petri dish to encourage the cells to form into clumps as found in natural hair growth. True, they have only succeeded in growing a few white hairs on the backs of mice so far (though you'd think human volunteers would be queuing round the block for this experiment!), they remain optimistic that they have found the answer.
Meanwhile their one-time rival in the race has changed their thinking entirely and now believe there is no such thing as dead hair follicles, only miniaturised hair cells which they believe can be rejuvenated with TR1.
Said Alvi Armani's Dr. Hayatdavoudi on the subject of hair cloning; "Any hair loss treatment must produce cosmetically acceptable results and without control of hair angulation and trajectory in hair cloning, unattractive cosmetic outcomes are likely. The number of donor follicles to be collected is far greater than initially thought. Donor cell extraction process is difficult with significant amount of cellular waste producing limited usable cells. Thousands of follicles are needed to replicate them for treating baldness. Potential for cancer development with excessive auto replication of injected cloned cells is also a concern,"
The collaboration between Britain's Durham University and America's Columbia display no such misgivings as they enthusastically talk of cloning hair cells which will each contain the 'instruction book' to grow a new hair, though as with any hair loss treatment, this is likely to be at some unspecified time in the far distant future, albeit with the promise that it will be cheaper than hair transplants, when it comes along
But don't suffer the blues while you wait for further news, come and see eMPower and find out what you can do about your hair loss right now.
It has long been recognised that shock can cause hair loss. The body is programmed to switch off what it regards as the least-important function while directing its resources to emotional or physical survival in other areas. Shock comes in all shapes and sizes from bereavement and divorce to accident, illness and job loss, or even just a sustained period of great stress or change. Recently I have been reading how hair loss is common in ex-pats who emigrate as they adjust to their new lives for the first year, particularly if they have emigrated to a hot climate which their body is not accustomed to. Post-partum hair loss after pregnancy is so common as to almost be expected.
The hair is generally at its most lustrous when pregnant and the body is pumped full or hormones but up to three months after giving birth, the hair can suffer anything from mild to severe loss as it enters a higher shedding phase and at the very least will appear drier and more brittle as the body slowly returns to normal. Even Kate Middleton, post-pregnancy, has been photographed with dry flyaway hair, noticeably different in texture to her trademark glossy mane. With cancer, it tends to be the cancer treatment, rather than the cancer which causes hair loss, though some cancer sufferers manage to avoid hair loss, normally due to their particular treatment regime or whether they have been able to use 'ice cap' treatment on their scalp to help prevent.
'Shock loss' is also ironically a risk for those who have recently undergone hair transplants, though poor quality of surgery can be responsible in some cases. That is one of the reasons that hair transplants are becoming increasingly refined with FUE methods to lessen the shock of the procedure to the scalp.
For most, stress-triggered hair loss will eventually recover, but for some sadly it doesn't, or it will recover for a time and then fall out again as TV Presenter Gail Porter found.
If you suspect your hair loss is owing to recent shock or stress, you may be producing higher than normal levels of the testosterone hormone androgen (which women should only possess 5-10% of typical male levels of). This is something your doctor can test you for in a blood test, although your doctor should also test for thyroid imbalance, iron/ferratin deficiency, diabetes, or protein/B vitamin deficiency. Your ferratin levels may need to be higher than normal, particularly if you come from a family prone to hair loss. If your body is producing more androgens than it should be, there are various natural means of reducing them such as losing weight (if you are overweight), increased exercise, cutting down on sugar and alcohol and eating more soya-based products. In addition it is important to find a means of relaxing and pacing yourself in life to reduce the stress levels and risk of becoming run down. This means developing regular sleeping, exercise and healthy eating patterns. On the outside, DHT-inhibitor and sulphate-free hair products can help support your remaining hair
And if your hair still stubbornly refuses to improve despite your best efforts, at least the rest of you will feel better and healthier under your new regime. As for your crowning glory, eMPower are but a mouse click away to offer you a new and improved one and complete the restoration of your lost confidence.
The Daily Mail's new columnist Sarah Vine, wife of Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, has publicly revealed her battle with hair loss which began in her teens and which she attributes to dieting. Says Sarah;
‘I was quite a stressed child. I was trying to be thin — as all girls are. I’m not naturally thin so it was hard work. ‘I did every rubbish silly diet. And I’m sure that’s what contributed to my hair starting to fall out. I was messing about with my body at a very crucial stage in my development. ‘Some people get away with it. I didn’t. Now I have a very underactive thyroid. ’ Her hair battles have been going on ever since. ‘Losing your hair as a woman is a huge, huge, huge thing. I have male pattern baldness — and that de-feminises you, it shatters your confidence. I shed so many tears over it.’ She also stopped swimming, skiing, cycling, you name it, ‘because the hair management was too much’. And amorous situations were a nightmare. ‘I spent so much time positioning my hair, I just couldn’t risk anyone messing it up and revealing a gap. ‘I tried wigs but I hated them. Horrid, horrid things.’ And so she battled on for years — arranging it, combing it over, powdering in the gaps — until a couple of years ago when a terrible photo of her and Samantha Cameron at the State Opening of Parliament shocked her into action. ‘I looked like my dad in drag: old and bald.’ So she gave in and had a hair weave — ‘Like a permanent wig but weaved into my own hair and tightened every six weeks.’ It looks bloody brilliant. And you’d never know if she wasn’t so open about it, in the hope of helping other people in her position. ‘It changed my life.’
Of course Sarah may well have had a system instead, which provides a more natural and unified look and feel, particularly where male pattern baldness is concerned, though not every wearer wishes to reveal they are wearing a system if they feel it sounds more drastic than a 'hair weave' or 'extensions'. That said, she did not seem to know the difference between a weave and a system when film star Raquel Welch was photographed with what looked suspiciously like a front lace not entirely bonded to her temple. Ms Vine also seemed ignorant of the fact that Raquel Welch actually markets her own line of wigs, offering four styles which she herself has sported over the years, each wig apparently personally checked by her prior to dispatch. Ms Welch also donates a large number of her wigs to US cancer sufferers and those medically affected by hair loss following her sister's battle with ovarian cancer.
Whatever hair replacment option Sarah has chosen, she is to be congratulated on her courage in publicly revealing her hair loss battle. eMPower, hopes her candour will help many other women to come forward and realise that they are not doomed to a future of hair loss, however long their history of hair loss has been.
Most hair loss sufferers are aware that up to 80% of hair loss is genetic and typically do not have to look far into their family to spot the sufferers who went before them who might have unwittingly giftwrapped the unlucky inheritance. But are there any other clues that hair loss might be waiting ahead...?
Hair is at its thickest when we are about twenty and thereafter naturally starts to thin a little as we age, or perhaps more accurately starts not to replace itself as quickly and vigorously as it did in our childhood and teens after shedding, leading to the effect of thinning. For most people of both genders this will scarcely be noticeable for many years unless it suddenly exacerbates for some reason.
Whatever thickness the natural hair starts off being, those who possess coarse hair texture will often fare better and keep their hair for longer than those with finer hair. Fine hair is often a precursor to hair loss, particularly if it becomes even finer and more flyaway over the course of time and gains a candyfloss appearance and feel, though some individuals with fine and flyaway hair can be lucky if their condition plateaus at some point and does not get any worse. That said, any type of hair is ultimately capable of thinning so look out for more frizziness in the texture than usual as you style your hair in the morning. This can start in one small area or as a larger patch. Those with a natural kink in their front hairline known as a 'widow's peak' or a 'cow lick' can also be prone to hair loss.
Remember that forewarned is forearmed when it comes to fighting hair loss, though self-denial that your hair is changing (along with the odd confusing 'good hair day') also gets in the way of most of us seeking treatment for the first year or two, thereby reducing the chances of treatment options working. And the medical diagnosis part in itself once we have finally summoned up the courage to visit our GP can then take months on top as there are so many potential reasons for hair loss, even if the majority of cases are finally dismissed by our GP or tricologist as 'hereditory'. Some of you may find (as I did via vitamin-boosting experiments) that treatment works in one area of the scalp, but not another) so you still need hair replacement.
Never fear. eMPower's here! So contact us for your free and no-obligation consultation today to discuss your hair problems and needs with a sympathetic consultant who knows exactly what you are going through and can advise on the latest options in undetectable hair replacement technology.
Talking to my eMPower stylist the other day who has worked at eMPower for a number of years now, he told me that when he first started about 60% of his clients were men. That has now reversed and up to 60% of his clients are women these days.
He also told me that the men often feel obliged to have a 'story' about their hair loss; ie 'This all started after I fell off that motorbike at 25' even though they may in reality have started experiencing hair loss before whatever incident. The women however seldom offer a story - they simply come to have their hair cosmetically restored.
I found this odd, as you would think it would be women who would be more embarrassed to seek help and feel the need to have a story behind it.
I thought it might be interesting to see if there was such a thing as a 'world map' to chart which countries in the world had what rates of male and female hair loss. Unfortunately I could not locate one, but during the course of my research I did find the best and the worst countries for hair loss.
Apparently the countries with the worst hair loss are America and the United Arab Emirates, which is currently experiencing unusually high levels for so-far unknown reasons. Poor diet is suspected as the primary culprit in America as whilst they may eat more meat than any other country in the world, the benefit of enhanced protein is often lost by the level of testosterone and meat-injected hormones/veterinary products ingested.
The best country for hair loss appears to be Korea where one American hair loss sufferer said he lived and worked for four years but never saw a bald man in his 20's 30's or 40s and even older men displayed only the odd small bald patch on the crown of the head or were shaven-headed monks by religion. In a desperate attempt to reverse his hair loss, the ex-pat tried to adopt the Korean diet but as his hair loss was extensive, saw only limited results. However this phenomenon could be explained by the fact that Korea is one of the cosmetic surgery centres of the world and apparently the Koreans do not hesitate to seek cosmetic help when they need it.
On a more national level, even a national map of hair loss for Britain would be fascinating (though of course not everyone presents to their GP for hair loss, so perhaps it is impossible to ever create an accurate picture). I for one would be intrigued to know if if is worse in cities or living near a nuclear power plant for example and to be able to compare the varying lifestyle factors of sufferers to see if any patterns emerge.
Talking of which I found a number of forums where those who had moved abroad to work, particularly to a much hotter part of the world, had experienced severe sudden hair loss, but the general consensus was that this was down to the stress of moving and acclimatising to live and work in another culture/country, particularly if there were language barriers as well. Most seemed to eventually regain their hair after a year or two.
I will end this post with the national statistics for hair loss in the US
Number of U.S. men experiencing hair loss 35 Million
Number of U.S. women experiencing hair loss 21 Million
Number of hair loss sufferers, world-wide, seeking professional treatment 811,363
Percent of men who will have noticeable hair loss by age 35 40 %
Percent of men who will have noticeable hair loss by age 60 65 %
Percent of men who will have noticeable hair loss by age 80 70 %
Percent of women who will have noticeable hair loss by age 60 80 %
Average number of hair follicles on the scalp 110,000
Average number of hairs lost daily by hair loss sufferers 100
A biomatrix made from pigs bladders that repairs and remodels damaged tissue called ACell (normally used in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery) is being combined with PRP (platelet rich plasma, extracted from the patients' own blood),and injected into the scalp, typically as an accompaniment to hair transplant surgery in the hope of bolstering the follicles and aiding the healing of any scarring.
This treatment is said to reverse the miniaturisation of hair follicles - the most common form of hair thinning - prompting dormant stem cells into new life causing follicles to become larger and more robust again, resulting in stronger hair growth. The procedure is now available in a handful of clinics in the US and initial results seem encouraging, though its devisors are by no means hailing it as a holy grail cure for hair loss.
Online forum opinion remains divided on this potential breakthrough, with some voices even saying that green plasma will harm remaining hair if it is full of male sex hormones including DHT (the hair slaying hormone), rather than help reverse hair loss.
Hair growth results from this method are predicted to last for several years before the procedure needs to be repeated, not unlike some hair transplants where hair continues to recede beyond the surgery area, necessitating further transplants. As with most hair loss treatments, it is recommended in cases of early stage hair loss for best results and for women, who tend to suffer diffuse thinning all over, but retain a quantity of hair growth overall.
I was amused to read that there is now a clinic in the US which will transplant hair FROM a man's scalp to other parts of his body in order to cultivate body hair in other areas (perhaps you are a man with a patchy beard or lacking in chest hair for example).
Whilst I can understand this procedure for re-creating lost eyebrows or eyelashes in a cancer or alopecia sufferer, it seems madness to waste scalp hair on any other part of the body or prioritise other body hair over scalp hair.
It also pre-supposes on the part of the patient that they will never suffer from hair loss problems on their head when actually they might find they want those precious (spare) folicles at the back of their head for a scalp transplant at a later date.
Another side-effect of this surgery is that men forever have to regularly trim the transplanted scalp hair on their chest or other regions as this will otherwise grow to the same length as the scalp hair that it was.
It strikes me that body hair transplants could be tomorrow's tattoos in terms of regrets as the last thing a man needs is an extra means of losing scalp hair.
Or perhaps eMPower should explore this interesting new market and offer non-surgical hair replacement options for chests, chins, sideburns and crown jewels!
Apparently Manchester United star footballer Wayne Rooney has just undergone a second hair transplant two years after splashing out some estimated £30,000 on the first. The London clinic he attended for the procedure earlier this month claimed thia was 'a standard follow-up' to the original hair transplant two years ago.
In truth, this is anything but 'a standard follow up'. And few standard men could afford it first time round, let alone if such a 'standard follow-up' was required as part of a normal treatment plan. What the clinic should have admitted is that Wayne's original transplant was failing so he had decided to try again.
There is no shame in admitting this. While true failure statistics remain as patchy as some transplants and surgeons claims are naturally high, it is suspected that as many as 70% of hair transplants will fail within the first five years, particularly if the hair loss has not naturally plateaued and continues to recede, leaving gaps between the new hair and the harvest site. That said, transplant techniques have advanced a lot in terms of getting the actual transplant to survive the relocation, rather than dying and falling out within weeks of the transplant, though this too remains a risk. If diffuse hair loss continues the other risk is that the transplant ends up looking 'weedy' in some cases making an individual look worse than if they'd let hair loss take its natural course.
While we wish Wayne all the best second time round, eMPower are here next time a 'standard follow-up' is suggested to offer great hair he can rely on and at a fraction of the price.