In recent years the popularity of long, flowing hair has soared, and for some this doesn’t come naturally. Hair extensions allow women to have thick, shiny locks, without years of waiting for it to grow naturally. Hair extensions are so popular nowadays that hair transplant experts are now seeing an influx of young women coming to them for advice and guidance following years of hair extension use.
For most, the potential negative effects hair extensions can have will not be known until it is too late to reverse the damage. The information related to hair extensions varies tremendously – some say there is no chance of permanent damage, some say there is a small chance of damage and some say the chance is high.
As with anything, it is important to know the possible risks before use and hair extensions are no exception.
Misuse of hair extensions can cause traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is caused by hair being frequently pulled. When stress is placed on the roots of the hair over a prolonged period of time, eventually the hair gives up and falls out. The hair is pulled from the root, and as a result no new hair grows in its place. This will begin as hair thinning and progress to visible bald patches; the severity will vary from person to person and depend on the amount of stress the hair has been put under.
Traction alopecia can be caused by more than just wearing hair extensions:
- Application and removal of hair extensions
- Hairstyles which pull your hair tight such as tight braids, ponytails, pigtails, and dreadlocks
- Long and heavy hair worn down – the weight can strain your hair follicles
- Frequently wearing tight helmets or other headwear
- Having your hair frequently pulled – some women constantly pull at their hair
Statistics show that traction alopecia is:
- Higher in African schoolgirls than boys (17.1% vs. 0%)
- Increases with age in girls [8.6% (6-7 years), 15.6% (10-15 years), to 21.7% (17-21 years)]
- Is higher in girls with relaxed vs. natural hair (22% vs. 5.2%)
- Is highest in adults (31.7% in women vs. 2.3% in men; with affected males more likely to wear cornrows and dreadlocks)
How to Minimize the Risks
- Ensure your hair extensions are not fitted too tight – a hairstyle should never hurt
- Removal of hair extensions should be done by a professional
- Give you hair time to relax between applications of extensions
- If you begin to experience damage or hair thinning, leave it for 6 months without aggravating it to see how it progresses
Both women and men may underestimate the importance placed on hair, and it is not fully appreciated until there is cause for concern. By looking after your hair, following the advice above and consulting hair stylists/experts for advice, you can ensure that your long flowing locks remain for years to come.
Established in 1974, Transform Medical Group serves women and men in the United Kingdom with surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic enhancements including breast enlargement, liposuction, facelifts, CoolSculpting, dermal fillers, and much more. The team of over 20 surgeons at the practice are skilled and accomplished in cosmetic surgery techniques.