Hair restoration treatment for traction alopecia: A solution for African women’s hair

Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by the hair being pulled in the same way for a long time. Picture:Supplied

Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by the hair being pulled in the same way for a long time. Picture:Supplied

Published Aug 24, 2023


If you’re an African woman dealing with hair loss or thinning, you’re not alone. This affects almost half of all black women at some point in their lives which stems from the hair braids pulling, wig glue or tight cornrows.

You’ve tried various products and treatments, but nothing seems to work.

Almost half of black women experience some form of hair loss. However, few doctors are familiar with black hairstyling practices, leaving many women to sort through unhelpful — or even harmful — advice on their own.

Hair means something different to each of us, but black hair has a uniquely meaningful history. Hair can be a badge of cultural pride.

The subject of hair loss and thinning is often taboo, and many women fail to seek help. But hair is an important symbol of beauty, identity, and culture for many women in general, and hair loss and thinning can cause distress, affecting self-esteem and confidence.

Dr Crystal Aguh, an Associate Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Ethnic Skin Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, reviewed a post on Hair Loss in Black Women: Tips from an Expert and revealed that certain types of hair loss are genetic, and very little can be done to prevent them.

Genetic types of hair loss include alopecia areata and female pattern hair loss. Noting that although half of black women experience hair loss they are in fact prone to a type of hair loss called traction alopecia, which is caused by heat, chemicals and tight styles that pull at the hair root, including some braids, dreadlocks, extensions and weaves.

Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by the hair being pulled in the same way for a long time. The pulling and tugging strain the hair follicles pull out strands of hair and even damage the follicles.

According to Medical News Today Signs of traction alopecia include:

– A receding hairline typically around the forehead, temples, or nape.

– Small pimples appear on the scalp or at the base of braids.

– Redness, itching and ulcers on the scalp.

– The hair parting widens patches of thin or broken hair in places where the hair has been under strain patches of shiny, scarred skin in more advanced cases.

A breakthrough solution is available to address the hair damage caused by common hair practices among African women.

Dr. Kashmal Kalan, a globally renowned hair restoration expert and the Medical Director of the Alvi Armani hair transplant clinic, asserts that hair transplantation is a viable and highly effective option.

This procedure can reverse the effects of relaxers, hot irons, weaves and other damaging practices.

Dr. Kalan highlights the prevalence of traction alopecia, a form of hair loss commonly observed among African patients. Tight hairstyles like braids, cornrows, and twists, as well as chemical treatments like relaxers, can lead to burns and hair loss.

The Alvi Armani clinic offers a revolutionary treatment called the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) technique, which has been perfected over two decades.

This technique can restore natural hairline and density with a remarkably short healing period.

Why should African women consider hair transplants?

Not all hair restoration treatments are equally effective or successful. It is crucial to find a clinic with the right expertise and methods tailored to individual needs.

Dr. Kalan points out that clinics experienced in hair transplants for African patients take precautions to avoid keloid scarring, which is more common among African hair types. He advises prospective patients to conduct thorough research before making an informed decision.

The unique curl of the follicle in African hair types poses challenges for hair transplants. The unpredictable root base makes it difficult to obtain the necessary follicle roots for successful surgery.

Additionally, the thicker skin and potential distortion during extraction further complicate the procedure. Therefore, consulting a qualified specialist who understands your specific needs is essential.

Determining the cause of hair loss or thinning is the first step in selecting the most suitable treatment option.

“The FUE technique, for example, is minimally invasive, almost undetectable, and matches the natural texture and curl of a person’s hair. We have performed many successful transplants for African men and women with different types of hair loss.

“The results are natural and aesthetically pleasing, and our patients are very satisfied with the outcome.”

How does FUE work?

This transplantation method involves extracting individual hair follicles from the scalp and implanting them in affected areas.

The FUE method is preferred to Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), which includes the removal of an entire piece of skin which can lead to scarring and look less natural.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution – every patient is unique and, thus, we take a different approach with each.

We consider skin texture, donor quality, hair type, and follicular profile before recommending the best way forward,” explained Dr Kalan.

By using pioneering techniques and tools, its FUE surgeons can better predict where the roots are, which makes the extraction process cleaner and much easier.