Stresses of losing your tresses can be cruel
She thought Lauren was simply losing her baby hair. Then, when Lauren was nine years old, her father died and the emotional stress and trauma of his death triggered further hair loss.
Lauren was rapidly losing more and more hair until about 70 per cent of it was missing and so Debbie turned to doctors for help. Lauren was diagnosed with alopecia by her consultant.
“When the consultants told us there was nothing we could do to combat Lauren’s hair loss she became a shy, nervous girl who would rarely speak or leave the house.”
Alopecia is an auto-immune disease, the body doesn’t think the hair belongs to it, so it rejects it. Lauren has Alopecia Areata, which affects children and young adults. Why is unknown, but possible causes are viruses, inoculations, shock or extreme stress.
Lauren was offered a wig from the NHS. She found the wig itchy and uncomfortable and the only styles available were for women three times Lauren’s age.
Debbie said: “Lauren hated the wigs and found going to school a really stressful experience. She was so worried someone would brush past her in the corridor or in the playground and knock her wig off.”
Lauren says: “It was embarrassing because when I did PE I used to have to get changed in the toilets. I was angry and upset because the bullies didn’t understand how it made me feel when they said stuff to me.”
Determined they could find a solution, Lauren and Debbie spent hours on the internet hunting for information about alopecia and ways to hide the hair loss.
“That’s when we found Hair Solved, which offered a non-surgical hair loss solution, and more importantly to Lauren, a head of real hair.”
Lauren visited Lucas Sojka, a hair loss specialist who set up Hair Solved in Manchester after working at a top hair loss clinic in London.
His Manchester clinic was set up specially to help women suffering from hair loss for whatever reason.
“We see women who have lost hair for a variety of reasons from Alopecia to chemotherapy. One in three women in the UK experience hair loss at one point or another. My clients range in age from 10 to 70. What has struck me over the years is that women suffering from cancer and are going through chemotherapy aren’t that bothered about the potential terminal disease as much as about losing their hair. If we can take that worry away then that allows them to concentrate on getting better.” Mr Sojka says another common reason for hair loss is stress. “The more hair a person loses the more stressed they become and then the more hair they lose. It is a vicious circle.”
He developed the Enhancer treatment which involved fixing a fine mesh to a person’s existing hair to create a permanent wig.
“People can do anything in the Enhancer. They can wash and shower like normal and even go swimming without worrying and what we have found is that once they have had it fitted and they stop worrying and stressing about their hair loss their hair starts to grow back naturally.”
In November last year Mr Sojka’s team attached a mesh, called a weft, to Lauren’s existing hair, and secured it to the bald patches with surgical tape.
Panels of real hair were then sewn on to the weft to form a seamless head of hair.
The treatment took 10 hours but meant that Lauren walked out of the clinic with a full head of hair, having opted for the longest hair possible.
“Since then Lauren has transformed into a confident young lady, as well as a typical teenager. We’ve now even had boyfriends on the scene,” says Debbie.
“Lauren no longer spends hours on the internet researching hair loss, but instead hours uploading pictures of herself and her new hair and chatting to her friends on Facebook.
“I’ve even noticed when she has her hair treated that her hair is starting to grow again underneath. The self-perpetuating and vicious circle of stress and hair loss has been broken.”
Lauren added: “For the first time this summer we went on holiday as a family because I felt confident enough to jump into the swimming pool and not have to worry about my wig coming off.
“I’ve now had a couple of new hair styles since going to Hair Solved and a really nice side fringe, which makes me feel really grown up. I love straightening and styling my hair and I’ve got so good at it now I think I might become a hairdresser when I grow up. I don’t even think about my hair any more and just enjoy shopping and going to the cinema with my friends.”
Although Mr Sojka says in the past his treatment has been available on the NHS cuts had meant that most people were now having to fund it themselves.
ALOPECIA means “loss of hair” or “baldness”. There are several different causes and patterns of alopecia. Alopecia areata is one type of hair loss. Alopecia is an auto-immune disease, the body doesn’t think the hair belongs to it, so it rejects it.
Why is unknown, but possible causes are viruses, inoculations, shock or extreme stress.
The exact number of people affected by alopecia areata is not known. Estimates vary between one in 1,000 to two in 100 people being affected at some point in their life.
Alopecia areata can occur at any age but most cases first develop in teenagers and children. In about six in 10 cases the first patch of hair loss develops before the age of 20 years. Males and females are equally affected.