BEAUTY OVER 40
By Valerie Monroe
The Hair (That Used to Be on Your Head)
Hold on to your hat before you read this disheartening statistic: Fifty percent of postmenopausal women have noticeable thinning of the hair on their scalp. After age 50, approximately the same number of men and women suffer from thinning, says Ken Washenik, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Director at Bosley, a surgical hair restoration medical practice, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. The reason, again, is most likely loss of estrogren, which is protective of hair. You shed some hair naturally every day, but the loss is considered significant if you start to see thinning behind the hairline or your part is widening.
Washenik says the first thing to do if you notice thinning is to see a doctor, who can determine whether it's the result of a correctable condition (an overactive or underactive thyroid or low iron levels, for example) or medications (such as for high blood pressure or depression). If there's no underlyi8ng cause except age, Washenik recommends minoxidil (Rogaine) 2 percent. (Rogaine is available at 5 percent for men only; the FDA hasn't tested it or approved it at that strength for women.) Thinning hair has a shorter anagen (growth) phase than normal; that phase typically shortens as we get older. Minoxidil extends the growth phase. Apply it to the scalp at least once a day; if in three months you see no difference in thickness, it's not going to be effective. Minoxidil is a chronic maintenance therapy, which means that if you stop using it, it stops working.
Are your eyebrows getting patchy? Perhaps you'd like to consider an eyebrow transplant. In the restoration procedure-which takes two to three hours in a doctor's office-individual hair follicles from the back or side of the head (where they aren't noticeable) are removed and placed into the brow area to re-create whatever density you like, says Washenik. But wait a minute: Why wouldn't the hair grow as long as it would if it were still on your scalp? It does, says Washenik. The transplanted follicles don't know that they've been moved. All you need is a little trimming.