May 21 2005, 8:40 am PT | Posted in: Hair Pieces / Systems
My girlfriend and I don’t think that we have hair loss problems (at least not yet), but we would LOVE to have fuller hair so that we wouldn’t need to use hair extensions (which I assume all the celebs use because no one has hair like that!). Could transplants do this for us too?
Historical Perspective: It is important to understand that many of the accoutrements that adorn our bodies arose from earlier, less sophisticated times. The use of wigs date back to the Egyptians in the years between 4000-300 BC. They were used extensively by men and women. The Greeks were the first to popularize wigs and braids and that began the long torturous route to hair styles that cycled in popularity for the next few thousand years. In the middle ages (1200-1400 AD), single women showed their health and vitality by demonstrating full heads of hair, much of the hair manufactured from animals. Once married, only the husband could see the head uncovered, so it was the young single, female that had to appear healthy and capable of producing healthy children. Even back then, women were packaging themselves for the marriage process. As the populations started to concentrate more and more in the cities, the disease tuberculosis, took its toll. For the malnourished females whose heads were uncovered, their hair showed a window into their core health. Those women who were not sick but had the misfortune to have a fine hair, appeared sickly. So women with a thin head of hair wore a wig or used braids to increase the fullness of their hair, thus appearing healthier. Sexual attractiveness and a healthy appearance were inextricably linked early in our evolving society. Paintings since the late renaissance, showed women with abundant body fat and full heads of luxurious hair. As tuberculosis is blind to socioeconomic conditions, the successful artisans were engaged by wealthier clients to create the illusion of health with abundant hair and lots of braids. The concepts of portrait art, showed what the person wanted to look like, not what they actually looked like. As the hair became thicker, it hid signs of illness or malnutrition. Braids became common place and the use of wigs and other hair extensions remain part of our cultural heritage, as our question suggests.
No, hair transplantation should not be used to increase the fullness of a normal head of hair, but the use of hair extensions and other such devices comes with a hidden cost for some people. That cost can be progressive hair loss. When it happens, it is caused by the continuous pulling that these devices produce on the hair at the point where they are attached. If you weave your existing hair into the matting of the extension to hold it, then the constant pulling from the attachment can produce Traction Alopecia (hair loss from pulling) and it can be permanent if the process continues. I have seen women with patches of hair loss or hair thinning from these extensions. What they do to manage the proble, is put in more extensions around the thinning area. This successfully masks the thinning area while it damages the healthy area nearby. Eventually, these damaged areas become confluent. My advice to you is to respect your hair and watch carefully for any signs of Traction Alopecia. Make sure that you are not starting a cycle that worsens with time.