Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ten Pros and Cons of Non- Surgical Hair Replacement : Appreciating the advantages of hair replacement systems and Weighing the disadvantages of hair systems

Ten Pros and Cons of Non- Surgical Hair Replacement

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In This Chapter

  • Appreciating the advantages of hair replacement systems
  • Weighing the disadvantages of hair systems

Using a so-called “hair system” (discussed in full detail in Chapters 6 and 7) isn’t for everyone, but considering that

non-surgical hair replacement is a multibillion dollar industry, it’s clearly the right decision for many. Despite the common stigma and jokes about “rugs” or “mops,” a good hair system isn’t easy to detect, can be easy to use, and can help cover extensive hair loss problems and other scalp deformities. A good hair system also can be a good solution for temporary hair loss. As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to hair replacement systems. In this chapter, we weigh them out for you.

The Pros of Hair Replacement Systems

Hair systems have definite advantages to some people in some situations. In this section, we share three of the most common reasons that people get hair replacement systems.

The immediate change

One great thing about a hair replacement system is that the results are instantaneous. Put it on your head, and you can see exactly what you’ll look like a week, a year, or ten years from now. You don’t have to wait for a wig to grow, or worry that it might not “take” like a hair transplant or a medical therapy. Hair systems are sure things.

You can buy hair replacement systems in multiples, which means you can change your look easily and have a spare if something should happen to one system.

Quick solutions to mask medical problems

With some patients, such as men who have very advanced hair loss where their supply of donor hair is inadequate, or people with various forms of autoimmune diseases (see Chapter 5), surgical restoration or other hair replacement alternatives are impossible. In these cases, hair systems can be an excellent choice.

Men and women who have temporary hair loss resulting from chemotherapy often opt to wear wigs. In diseases such as alopecia totalis, which causes total loss of hair on the head, only a full helmet- type wig works. Wigs are also an excellent cosmetic solution if you have extensive patchy alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that results in partial, often temporary hair loss.

Using a hair system as a temporary solution for a temporary problem is invaluable. If you need to wear it for an extended period of time, you can attach a wig with tape or glue in the same manner as a smaller hair system. “Vacuum-fit” attachment devices designed especially for full scalp, helmet-fitting wigs offer the benefit of a very secure but not a very comfortable fit (as these vacuum hair systems are a helmet in size, they are equipped with a suction device to hold the helmet in place.) Keep in mind, though, that many of these helmet type hair systems don’t “breathe” and can be hot, particularly in the summer.

Initially lower cost

We can’t argue that over a lifetime, replacing, repairing, washing, and otherwise fooling around with wigs can be more expensive than having a hair transplant, but the initial cost is still lower. Many people opt for wigs instead of transplants, accepting the long-term costs, for any or all of the following reasons:

� They can’t afford the high initial cost of a hair transplant. For many people, a few thousand dollars a year is easier to swallow than tens of thousands all at once.

� They’re scared to death at the thought of having surgery.

� They anticipate a day when they won’t wear a hair system.

After ten years or so, or when a person ages to a point where

vanity isn’t such a big issue, he or she (more commonly “he”) may decide it’s time to go “au natural.”

The Cons of Hair Replacement Systems

Using a hair system isn’t without its disadvantages. You may find that these negatives far outweigh the positives, or you may find that the opposite is true for you. Regardless, there’s no fault in a well-informed decision, so this section lays the disadvantages of hair systems on the line.

Living with the fear of discovery

There’s great fear among hair system users that the system may be too obvious and detected. Although there’s no such thing as a completely detection-free and worry-free hair system, high quality ones can look very real. But they’re often very expensive and require careful and constant upkeep. Because most people feel that a hair system is a cover-up, you must be ever aware of the status of your hair system: where it’s located on the head, how firmly the attachment is, and how well-groomed it is.

Depending on the size and shape of your hair replacement system, you may need to have it styled just like your own hair in order to make sure it blends in and goes undetected. Although the piece won’t grow, the hair around and beneath it will, so you must have your natural hair cut frequently to match the length of the hair system. Blending the two maximizes the natural look of your whole head of hair. The thickness of your hair and the thickness of the hair of the hair system should also be similar (although they rarely are).

If your hair system covers a substantial portion of your head, you must decide what to do with the normal hair under the hair system (if you have some). If you decide to shave it, you can attach the system with glues or tapes. If you keep your normal hair long, clips or weaves may be the best way to attach the system.

What makes a hair system detectable? One of the most common errors in selecting a hair system is ignoring the frontal hair line. People see the frontal view first, so it’s where you’re most vulnerable. With natural hair, the frontal hairs create a delicate transition

zone from the bald forehead to the thick hair behind it, usually covering a distance of about 1⁄2 inch. The challenge with a hair system is recreating that zone with fine, skin-matched mesh extension with fine hairs in front of the thicker hair of the hair system. The mesh drives up the cost considerably, so many people just accept the hair system without a frontal extension.

One way to blend the frontal view without a fine mesh extension is to buy a hair system that has internal cover for the frontal hairline and use styling tricks, such as a side-combed style shifted forward, to hide the actual hairline.

Chasing the fly-away wig

When you wear a hair system, by far your worst nightmare is that a sudden wind may sneak up behind you and blow the hair right off of your head (we call this the “fly-away wig”). More commonly, the attachment moves because it comes loose as a result of hair growth under the bonding system where the system is physically attached. The bonding can become loose as the outer layer of skin starts to slough, or it may just start to break down.

Frequent upkeep takes the stress out of the problem of “keeping your hair on.” Pay close attention to the status of your hair system and the security of the bonding tapes or glues, and tend to the hair growth below the hair system.

Disguising the odor

Bacteria grow on the exfoliated skin and sebum (body oils) build up under hair replacement systems — an unpleasant thought, we know. It’s only a matter of time until the smell of this bacterial growth begins to radiate from around your head. Regular hygiene is difficult with a hair system that has a more permanent type of attachment than one you can remove nightly.

You can combat bad smells by frequently washing your hair system. If you have two hair systems, you can remove one and replace it with the other while you wash and dry the first. However, washing a hair system causes progressive damage — the more it’s washed, the quicker it wears out. Most attachment techniques are designed to allow you to loosen one edge of the system to wash under it, and then reattach the edge. Wearers who choose to have their pieces glued on for a month or longer must take great care to wash under them regularly.

Our best advice is to assume the hair system has a smell and to react accordingly with regular washing. Pouring a bottle of cologne over your head is not a viable substitute!

Maintaining a no-touch zone

This is a law that most hair system wearers live by. Most hair system wearers fear detection when there’s the slightest intimacy or physical touching above the neck. Hugging a relative or date without letting them touch your head is awkward; it produces a no- touch zone that hinders intimacy with your nearest and dearest.

Adjusting to gray

When your natural hair starts to turn gray or salt and pepper, your must either alter or replace your hair system to blend in with the changes, or dye your natural hair to match the hair system. Replacing the hair system with gray or salt and pepper hair isn’t a big problem because a system usually wears out in two to three years and must be replaced anyway.

If you decide to alter the hair system you have, you can have some gray hair put in when repairing the mesh and putting more hair into the hair system; this method allows you to gradually adjust to gray. But this gradual alteration can be expensive. The key is to keep the hair system naturally color-matched to your existing hair.

As most wearers own between two and four units, each must be color-matched as they’re changed and washed, and that matching adds up financially.

Continuing regular haircuts

If you aren’t completely bald, you can’t just cover up what’s left of your natural hair and forget about it. Hair beneath and around a hair system continues to grow, needs to be washed, and may need to be colored if you’re trying to maintain your natural hair color.

One do-it-yourself solution is to shave your head, but that’s not practical for most women or for men who want to use the hair they have left to augment or attach the hair system. (We discuss different types of attachments in Chapter 6.)

You can look, but you better not touch

We know of a patient who believed (but wasn’t positive) that his long-term girlfriend didn’t know about his hair system, and he was obsessed with keeping his no-touch zone intact to guarantee that any suspicions she may have had weren’t confirmed. When she tried to touch his hair in intimate situations, he managed to keep her from it. However, he couldn’t prevent a wind from coming up and blowing off his hair- piece as he and his girlfriend were walking on the Las Vegas strip.

When the patient’s hair system blew off, he ran after it and ducked into a nearby store, leaving his girlfriend on the street. He reattached the hair system in the store bathroom and then took the next flight to Los Angeles for an emergency hair trans- plant, sending his girlfriend back home to Washington, D.C., by herself. Months later, he called us from home to say that he’d taken off his hairpiece and finally was going to experiment to see if his girlfriend could tell the difference. Minutes later, he called again to say that she’d immediately gone for his hair when he left his guard down, and although he was sick with fear, he allowed her to run her fingers through his hair. She admitted to suspecting that he had a hair system and was happy to feel his lovely, soft hair.

This patient told us that this was one of the most suspenseful and exciting experiences he’d had in years, and he felt that the decision to have a hair transplant was worth every penny. His no-touch zone was gone in an instant, and that feeling of his girlfriend running her fingers through his hair was indescribable. They were married within a year of his hair growth!

Eating into your expense account

People assume that hair systems are the least expensive alternative to hair loss. But many people find that the long-term costs involved with upkeep and replacement are a major disadvantage that they didn’t plan for financially.

You may be able to find hair systems sold in mail-order catalogues or over the Internet for a few hundred dollars, but a good quality system can cost between $1,000 and $5,000. (Remember, the better quality the system, the harder it is to detect.) It’s common to buy one or more identical spares at the same time so that you can wear one while the other gets cleaned or repaired as necessary. Continued maintenance costs, replacements costs as your hair thins, changes in texture and color, and the like can all become quite expensive. (See Chapter 6 for a typical budget from one of our patients.)