African American Hair Transplants
There are special considerations with regard to the cause and treatment of hair loss in African American patients. In addition to the genetic (hereditary) type of hair loss commonly seen in both men and women of all races, the various styling methods used by African Americans are a major additional cause of hair loss. A very common condition seen after years of tight braiding is “traction alopecia,” where the follicles literally die as a result of constantly being pulled. Though the hair usually will not grow back once it is gone, hair transplantation (moving healthy hair follicles to an area of hair loss) can provide excellent, permanent results.
Central Centrifugal (spreading outward from the center) Cicatricial (scarring) Alopecia, or CCCA, is a poorly understood type of “scarring alopecia,” or inflammatory condition of the scalp. It occurs almost exclusively in women of African descent. It may occur spontaneously, or lye-based and other similar relaxers can burn the scalp so severely that the underlying follicles are permanently damaged and no longer capable of growing hairs. The scar tissue that destroys the follicles is beneath the surface of the skin; thus, though CCCA can result in large areas of complete balding, the scarring itself is usually not visible to the eye. CCCA is not hereditary. Women with CCCA have very fragile hair that is susceptible to breakage, and need to take special care to handle their hair gently.
Fortunately, hair transplantation (moving healthy hair follicles to an area of hair loss) is an option for many African American men and women, and excellent, lasting results can be achieved. Only an experienced and ethical hair transplant surgeon, at times collaborating with a dermatologist, can properly evaluate a particular individual and determine whether hair transplantation would be appropriate. This is an area in which Dr. Ballon and his staff have particular expertise.