Alopecia and Hair Replacement For African Americans

Hair loss can be devastating, whether you are male or female, regardless of race or ethnicity. Typical hair loss among men crosses the boundaries of race and culture. However, African American hair poses a particular set of challenges with regard to hair loss. Hair replacement clinics across the country note that while black men seem to suffer the same sort of male pattern baldness and challenges as Caucasian men, African American men and women seem to suffer a higher percentage of problems with hair loss for a variety other, culturally specific reasons. Hair replacement solutions to African American hair loss can be equally complex.

Every year, thousands of men and women of African descent struggle to resolve issues that have left them with receding hairlines and patchy balding spots. Many of these causes are due to hairstyling techniques that have become part of the African American culture, such as:

o Traction Alopecia – caused by braiding too tightly, long term use of corn-rows or tight pig tails in hair. This causes a constant tug on the root of the hair which eventually not only pulls it out, but can cause scarring on the scalp.

o Use of Chemical relaxers that contain lye (the same ingredient used in products like Draino) can actually cause chemical burns on the skin. Even the more natural relaxers use chemicals harsh enough to cause a burn.

o Use of hot combs or irons on the hair too close to the scalp, causing burns and scarring.

o Bleach-again, a harsh chemical not intended to come in contact with the delicate skin of the scalp.

What many people don’t realize is that all of these procedures can, if done improperly, cause permanent hair loss due to scarring of the scalp. Once hair follicles are scarred, there is no resurrecting them. That hair is gone for good. Hair regrowing products like Propecia and Minoxidil will not regrow hair here.

Hair replacement experts understand the emotional toll this kind of loss can take on somebody suffering from hair loss. Not only does hair loss cause embarrassment, the self-esteem can take a nose dive as well. Janelle, a twenty-four year old African American woman, noticed that her hair had begun to recede around her hairline. She had worn pig tails as a child and as an adult, had begun chemically relaxing her hair. To save money, she decided to do it at home. The chemicals burned her scalp. Alarmed, Janelle discovered several bald patches the size of a half dollar on her crown. She saw her doctor and learned that Traction Alopecia was responsible for her hair loss around her hairline, and chemical burns were responsible for the now permanent hair loss on her crown. He sent her to a hair replacement specialist.

Janelle was dealing with three problems: Bald patches on the scalp and a receding hairline; but more importantly, her biggest problem was the toll the hair loss took on her self-esteem and emotional well-being. She considered surgical hair replacement, but this is a complex issue when it comes to black hair. Why?

o The cost is prohibitively high. And quite often, if simply doesn’t work. Hair does not regrow in the density required.

o The formation of keloid tissue. Keloid scarring is a condition to which black skin is often prone. While skin on the scalp rarely forms keloid scar tissue, the skin on the forehead and face often will. So if a receding hairline is the issue, often surgical transplantation is not an option on black skin mega hair.

o Grafting is tricky – Black hair is curly not only above the skin but below, at the root as well. So the grafting of individual hairs is complex and often impossible.

In the end, she found an expert who specialized in high end hair replacement systems to restore her hair to it original state. Using breathable lace mesh and hand tied hairs, the hair replacement specialist matched Janelle’s hair with real hair, then filled in the missing spots and her hairline with several hair systems to extend her hairline. The new hair blended in flawlessly with Janelle’s own hair.

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