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The sensitive issue of traction alopecia in African women

It is estimated that almost half of all black women at some point in their life will suffer hairline loss from tightly pulled hairstyles like cornrows, chemical relaxers or wig glue.

For many women in general, hair loss and thinning can cause distress, affecting self-esteem and confidence.

According to Dr Kashmal Kalan, globally renowned hair restoration expert and medical director of the Alvi Armani, hair transplantation is a viable and highly effective option for African women to reverse the damage caused by common hair practices such as using relaxers, hot irons and weaves.

“Traction alopecia is a common type of alopecia among African patients – more common than many people may think. It’s caused by tight hairstyles like braids, cornrows, and twists as well as chemical treatments like relaxers, which can lead to burns and hair loss,” says Dr Kalan.

He notes that clinics with experience in hair transplants on African patients are careful to avoid keloid scarring, which is more common among African hair types. “What makes hair transplants different and sometimes challenging for African hair types is the unique curl of the follicle. It has an unpredictable root base, which can make it difficult to obtain the roots of the follicles – which is what is required for hair restoration surgery. The skin is also a lot thicker, and the skin surface can distort during extraction.

“It’s important to first determine what is causing your hair loss or thinning and then decide on the best option to treat it.”

Alvi Armani’s Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) technique is a minimally invasive technique that involves extracting individual hair follicles from the scalp and implanting them in affected areas. Says Dr Kalan: “The FUE method is preferred to Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT), which includes the removal of an entire piece of skin which can lead to scarring and looks less natural.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution – every patient is unique and thus we take a different approach with each. We consider skin texture, donor quality, hair type, and follicular profile before recommending the best way forward,” explains Dr Kalan.


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