I was going bald until a 'hair enhancer' weaved its magic
Her hair – or lack of it – took over Janet Robertson’s life when she hit her late 40s.
She had always had fine hair but after the menopause, she started to go bald on top.
‘It was devastating,’ she says. ‘My husband was sensitive and supportive but, to be honest, I was at my wits’ end.’
Janet Robertson's hair looks so much thicker since she has had the weave. 'When they had finished fitting the weave, I cried,' she said
Her routine became fastidious and all-consuming.
‘Every morning I got up, washed my hair, blow-dried it and then used about half a can of hair lacquer to try to cover the bald patch,’ she says.
‘The weather dictated if I could go out. If it was windy or raining, I wouldn’t go.’
Janet’s story is one that will resonate with many of the 25 per cent of post-menopausal women who suffer from hair-thinning and baldness.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Adrian Winbow, at Fitzroy Square Hospital in London, says it is a condition that can ruin lives.
‘Hair loss is much worse for women than for men,’ he adds.
‘They are already coming to terms with ageing, the problems of menopause and the loss of their fertility.’
Costing from 800, the treatment lasts two years. Every six weeks the mesh is tightened, which costs 40, and hair is trimmed and styled
He has had female patients on the verge of suicide when they come to see him. Some patients peer in the mirror 40 times a day looking for more bald patches.
‘This is a vicious circle,’ says Dr Winbow. ‘If you are self-conscious and depressed, you don’t go out. This, in turn, makes you less confident and more anxious.’
In extreme cases, agoraphobia and clinical depression develop. For his patients, Dr Winbow recommends a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and antidepressants.
Although it never got this bad for Janet, 52, a support worker, she did invest heavily in ways to combat the problem.
'The weather dictated if I could go out. If it was windy or raining, I wouldn't go,' said Janet of her hair before she had the weave
‘I spent 600 on supplements to aid hair growth but they made no difference,’ she says.
‘I also tried Minoxidil, an over-the-counter drug, but it didn’t work for me.
‘I even considered a hair transplant but that would have cost between 10,000 and 20,000.
‘Every volumising product on the market went into my shopping basket but none covered up my bald patch.
'I even tried a wig, but I was scared to wear it in case it blew off.’
Last year, Janet finally found a solution that worked – a treatment called Enhancer by Hair Solved.
'You can shower, swim, have blow-dries and use hair products,' said Janet
Existing hair is pulled through a mesh attached with surgical tape to the scalp. Natural hair extensions are woven in using minute plastic clips.
Costing from 800, the treatment lasts two years. Every six weeks the mesh is tightened, which costs 40, and hair is trimmed and styled.
Dr Bessam Farjo, one of the UK’s leading hair-transplant surgeons, welcomes the advent of new techniques that offer a durable alternative to wigs.
‘Thinning hair in women – also called androgenic alopecia – can be attributed to genetics and hormones,’ he says.
Androgenic alopecia is due mainly to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
This is a form of testosterone that in women is produced by the adrenal gland. DHT causes hair follicles to deteriorate gradually.
Women don’t produce as much testosterone as men and therefore have much smaller amounts of DHT.
The effects of DHT are counteracted by the female hormone oestrogen, which is produced by the ovaries.
‘During and after the menopause – and as oestrogen levels drop – DHT can act unopposed, so women may suffer from hair loss,’ says Dr Farjo.
The pattern of balding is different from that of men.
‘Women are more likely to retain the frontal hairline,’ he says, ‘but thin in an oval-shaped area behind it. The back and sides also thin out.’
Following her hair-weave, Janet, from Glasgow, no longer allows her situation to dominate her life.
‘When they had finished fitting the weave, I cried,’ she says.
‘It looked incredible. When you run your fingers through your hair, you can’t see or feel the clips.
‘You can shower, swim, have blow-dries and use hair products and styling tools. I feel like myself again.’