The hair loss condition known as alopecia areata is caused by issues with your autoimmune system. For people with alopecia areata, the body mistakes its own hair follicles as a foreign object and then sends out white blood cells to “seek and destroy” them. This results in those areas losing hairs due to the shrinkage of the targeted follicles. It is still unclear why this happens. There are some theories that it is caused by extreme stress or possibly through genetic factors. What exactly triggers it is still not proven. Everything is theory at this point. So are hair transplants the best hair restoration treatment for alopecia areata?
Hair Transplants Are Not the Best Hair Restoration Treatment for Alopecia Areata
What Is Alopecia Areata?
Why FUE Hair Transplant?
Why FUE Hair Transplant is Not Suitable for Treating Alopecia?
Alopecia areata is noticeable by the appearance of smooth, round bald spots in random areas on the body. These bald spots can be found on any part of the body where hair is growing. This condition can also come on very quickly and can last for months and even years. Or it can be gone within a few weeks. Alopecia areata can, however, become a more severe type of hair loss called alopecia totalis or the complete loss of hair from the entire scalp. (Lex Luthor from the Superman comics had this type of hair loss). Another related type of hair loss is called alopecia universalis, where no hair will grow anywhere on the entire body. This condition is very difficult to treat with an FUE hair transplant. The main issue is that FUE requires a donor area that can provide enough healthy hair follicles that are then implanted into a balding area.
However, the nature of alopecia areata is very unpredictable. These bald areas can move around without warning, exposing new areas of bald spots. This would obviously be counter-productive with an FUE hair transplant procedure because of the long growth period before the transplanted hairs exhibit substantial growth. It is expected that the transplanted hairs used in an FUE procedure will fall out 3 weeks to a month after the hair transplant. These transplanted hairs will start to grow back after about 3 months at the earliest, and it will take a full year for every transplanted hair to grow.
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Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy
Using an FUE hair transplant to treat alopecia areata would be comparable to a dog chasing its tail, as you would just be chasing the bald spots around the scalp. A patient would be left with bald spots created by alopecia areata, recovering donor areas where hair was harvested from, and the transplanted areas where hair follicles are starting to grow hair again. The good news is that there are other ways to treat this condition. The use of corticosteroids is the most common treatment. Corticosteroids act to suppress the “glitch” in the immune system. They work to prevent the white blood cells from attacking these hair follicles, therefore allowing them to grow. PRP (platelet-rich plasma therapy) has also shown some really great results in stimulating hair growth in these areas again.
PRP works to repair these damaged follicles and stimulate proper hair growth again. Reducing stress is also an effective way to help treat alopecia areata. Although there are no proven clinical studies to conclude how stress is connected to alopecia areata, there is still enough evidence to show that balding could be directly related to stress.