Hair loss and the Menopause. Scalp Confidential’s Kelli Morrell explain the treatment options.
Hair loss isn’t always first on the list of seemingly never ending list of Menopause symptoms and because of that many women don’t realise that their thinning hair is associated with their declining oestrogen levels.
We see many women over the age of forty in the Scalp Confidential clinics with changes in hair quality or hair loss. Often they are either peri menopausal or post menopausal and many are traumatised over losing their hair, but had not connected the two.
A woman’s hair is a big part of her identity so having it become wispy, thinner, slower in growth, or having the scalp itself clearly visible can be a major source of stress, which can exacerbate the problem.
Women often assume nothing can be done, they are frequently told ‘It’s just part of ageing’ and that they should learn to accept it. One woman who came to our clinic was told by her GP that he wouldn’t refer her to a specialist until she had lost 50% of her hair.
But there is one thing we can be certain of: the sooner you seek help from a qualified specialist the better.
Why Does Menopause Affect Our Hair?
So why does the Menopause have such an effect on our hair and what can we do about it? Effective treatment starts by understanding the underlying cause of hair loss.
In the few years leading up to and during the Menopause the body experiences hormonal changes including a decline in oestrogen and progesterone production. This causes the hair to:
- become thinner and weaker
- appear dull and lifeless
- grow much slower
- hair follicles shrink back and individual hairs become finer.
Menopausal hair loss is often quite gradual and therefore not always easy to connect to its cause. With the reduction of oestrogen, the hair grows slower and for a shorter period. Our hair growth has three phases if you like – growing, resting and shedding, and this decline in oestrogen prematurely puts us into the resting phase and consequently into the shedding phase sooner.
Healthy levels of oestrogen help to keep your hair growing. For hair to grow healthy and long, it needs to have a growing phase (the first stage of 3) of approximately 3 – 5 years, this may be greatly reduced where there is an underlying cause such as illness, disease, or the use of certain medications and by the changes in hormones associated with Menopause.
Other factors that can affect the appearance of the hair and its growth are:
- Low B12, Low Vitamin D, Low Iron,
- Over styling and chemically processing the hair,
- Shock and Trauma,
- Extensions and traction from hair extensions and braids.
To grow well the hair needs to be well nourished, so a good healthy balanced diet is essential.
What Can We Do About Hair Loss?
Whether you are pre or post menopausal its important to know about all of the treatment options available to you. The first step though is to rule out any medical causes or underlying conditions.
Blood Tests: A good place to start is by testing Hormone levels, thyroid function as well as vitamin levels including Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and iron levels too. This helps ensure there are no other underlying factors contributing to the hair loss, and if there are they can be addressed with medication or a change in diet/supplements.
Traditional routes: pro’s and con’s
Medicated Shampoos: Until recent years, hair restoration treatments for women typically consisted of using Minoxidil. Another treatment is available for men called Finasteride (Propecia), but it is not suitable for women of child baring age.
There is conflicting evidence for the use of Finasteride and similar drugs in Menopausal women for hair loss. If these drugs are considered they would need careful monitoring by a Dermatologist.
Hair Transplants: Hair transplantation is another option. Not all women are good candidates, however. Female hair loss being different from male, may mean there is a lack of strong donor area.
But this doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can help. Over the years a lot of research has gone into the underlying causes and the search for beneficial treatments. So thankfully women have more options now. With all of them, understanding your lifestyle along with the hormonal changes is key to an effective treatment plan.
Below is a brief overview of tests and treatments available.
The Newer Options – at a glance
– Tricotest, a new DNA genetic testing for hair loss
– HRT for helping to naturally balance hormones
– AQ hair growth complex, using concentrated growth factors to strengthen and nourish hair
– Calecim stem cell treatment to nourish and strengthen hair
– Scalp Micropigmentation to camouflage hair loss
– Viviscal Professional, clinically proven to nourish hair from within
– PRP, Platelet Rich Plasma therapy
– Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) or RED Light therapy
This unique genetic testing is quick and easy. With a simple swab of the inner cheek, the Tricotest laboratory can analyse 48 genetic variations along with lifestyle factors to asses what may be causing your hair loss.
In addition to identifying what might be the cause, it can help determine what is most likely to work for you or what is likely to have little or no effect.
This will then enable your specialist to work out a bespoke treatment plan for you based on your genetic individuality.
During a consultation with a specialist, you may also have a hair pull test, visual examination and a microscopic examination of your hair and scalp to ascertain its condition.
The specialist will ask you a series of lifestyle questions and will want to get a good history of when you started to experience hair loss issues.
Further information on Tricotest:
The Tricotest is available at Illuminate Skin Clinic, Kent with Dr Sophie Shotter and also through Dr Luca De Fazio in Harley Street, London.
-HRT or Body Identical Hormone Therapy
The first line treatment for the symptoms of menopause is HRT. This can be prescribed by your GP on the NHS using gels, patches or implants that these days are made as ‘body identical’ from soy and yams.
-AQ hair Complex
AQ hair complex uses AQ Skin Solutions patented Growth Factor formula, founded by Dr AhmedAl-Qahtani, Professor, scientist and immunologist.
Advanced Hair Complex+ works by conditioning the scalp, nourishing and rejuvenating the struggling, weak and damaged hair follicles to help restore them to a healthier state, helping improve the quality of the hair.
The advantage of using the double patented AQ hair complex over other treatments needed for the scalp is that within each bottle of AQ hair complex there is an extremely potent and measured dose of growth factors, so your specialist will have consistency with each bottle of serum used to treat you.
Further reading on AQ Skin Solutions:
Dr Al-Qahtani’s list of publications can be viewed here:
AQ Hair complex is available with Scalp Confidential at Illuminate Skin Clinic, Kent, Health and
Aesthetic Clinic South East London, AMP Clinic in Banbury and Harley Street.
This is a unique, patented stem cell technology from a biotech company called Cell Research Corp who is a pioneer in the field.
The umbilical cord is a super rich source of epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells from a non-embryonic source.Cell Research Corp ,the parent company of Calecim, owns the patented technology for scientifically derived stem cells from cord-lining tissue.
In Vitro tests (ie in a lab) have proved successful with wound healing, restoring skin tissue and cell division. Trials in hair restoration are underway and it would be premature to make any extravagant claims, however results so far look extremely promising.
The advantage of using Calecim for infusing the scalp for hair rejuvenation is a potent measured dose in each bottle.
Further information on Calecim:
The results of trials showing accelerated repair:
– Scalp Micropigmentation
This is a form of medical tattooing using medical grade inks to camouflage hair loss and bare scalp for both men and women. It can be used to create the look of density where hair is thinning or to give the impression of a full head of hair that has been shaven by choice.
It is relatively painless and the results can last from 3 to 5 years on average, in some cases up to 6 depending on lifestyle and sun exposure.
Tiny dots are placed on the scalp in 3 or 4 sessions to create shading and density. This is particularly good for Scarring Alopecia, female pattern hair loss and to cover trauma or surgical scars.
Choosing your technician wisely & doing some research as with any other hair restoration procedure is always advised.
Further information on Scalp Micropigmentation:
– Viviscal Professional
Viviscal professional are clinic strength nutritional hair growth supplements with over 25 years of scientific research. They have 10 published clinical trials, one being a randomised double blind placebo trial, which meant no one taking part in the trial knew who had the Viviscal supplement and who had the placebo pill. The results were quite significant.
The trails focused on looking at the action of their main proprietary ingredient, Amino Mar C, a unique marine protein which feeds the hair via the blood stream.
Once taking Viviscal Professional, don’t expect to see results before 3 – 4 months, although some people do see a reduction of hair shedding by 10 weeks, baby hair regrowth at 12 weeks onwards, and over all thickness and hair quality returning in many cases by month 6 is more typical.
This is ideal for general hair health and quality but also ideal for periods of stress, after an illness, or where vitamin deficiency or malnutrition is an issue. It can be ideal to support your hair growth if you are on medication which names hair loss as a side effect.
Quite often Scalp Confidential use it as part of their bespoke hair restoration programme.
Viviscal Professional can be purchased from Illuminate Skin Clinic, Kent, AMP Clinic Banbury, The
Private Clinic, Harley Street and Health and Aesthetic Clinic south East London to name a few.
Further information on Viviscal Professional:
Platelet Rich Plasma treatment, uses your own blood to help rejuvenate their hair.
A small vial of blood is taken and spun in a centrifuge to separate the components of the blood extracting the platelet rich plasma.
This is then injected or infused back into the scalp where the hair is struggling to grow and is thinning out. If an individual is fit and healthy, a non smoker, eats well, has good iron levels and no vitamin deficiency, results can be significant.
If there are no underlying conditions which would impair results such as anaemia, improvements in
the hair quality and growth can be seen.
Experienced doctors in PRP and hair restoration can be found here:
- Dr Bhavjit Kaur and Dr Bhalani of Health and Aesthetic Clinic, South East London
- Dr Sophie Shotter of Illuminate Skin Clinic, Kent
- Dr Luca De Fazio, LDF hair clinic, The Private Clinic Harley Street
- Dr Unnati Desai or Urban Aesthetix, Mayfair
- Dr Shirin Lakhani, Kent
-Red Light therapy
Also, LED light or Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT ), red light therapy used for stimulating hair growth is becoming more popular.
Unlike lasers and other light therapies, it does not break, cut or burn the skin. Various publications propose that red light therapy has Photo stimulation and Bio stimulation properties. It is said to improve micro circulation stimulating cell activity and tissue healing. The exact mechanism of its action, however, is still not fully understood.
The anti-inflammatory action is likely to help heal scalp and follicle inflammation associated with some types of hair loss and scalp conditions.
AMP Clinic in Banbury have two devices: Rejuvalight and Smartlux. They have seen good results with hair restoration and acne.
Dr Luca De Fazio of LDF hair clinic offers this treatment and has seen good results with his device.
Further information on Red Light Therapy:
When to get help
Seeking help early is key with any condition. Growth factor treatments can achieve significant results in the earlier stages of thinning hair. Once the hair loss has progressed, fewer options will be available.
Seeking help early with the symptoms of Menopause will help you feel better sooner, don’t suffer in silence, speak to a specialist.
Other reading material on hair loss, the Menopause and the symptoms: