An Alopecia Journey

I first noticed my own Alopecia years ago, in a department store dressing room….I was trying on a dress, and bent down to adjust the hem. I caught a glimpse of my own thinning hair in the full-length mirror. I was shocked – “how did that happen?” I asked myself. Not only was my hair thinning – it was actually gone in some places.

That night, I locked myself in the bathroom and scrutinized my scalp – at age 52, I could actually see right through to my bare scalp in some places, and in other places, the hair was so thin, it was practically non-existent.

I spent days looking over family photos – my father lost most of his hair before he was 60, but my mother always had beautiful hair – or so I thought. It wasn’t until later that I discovered she had started losing her own hair after her first pregnancy – and used a series of hairpieces, extensions, and wigs to hide the loss.

Alopecia is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles. Normally the immune system protects against infection and disease, but when the immune system is compromised – by diabetes, lupus, thyroid disease, certain medications like chemotherapy and more – hair loss usually follows. Medical research reveals that alopecia can occur at any time, any age, even in seemingly healthy people. Your chances of having alopecia are greater if you have a genetic predisposition to the condition.

My first step was to see my dermatologist, which is what I recommend to others when they first notice their own hair loss. Most dermatologists are skilled enough that they can diagnose the disorder by sight alone, but my doctor took a scalp biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. While the disease is not life threatening, there is no cure, although the disorder can be treated.

One in four women will experience some sort of hair loss by age 50 – and the number grows to 65% by age 70. There are treatment options available for mild, patchy alopecia areata (less than 50% scalp hair loss) though there is currently no acceptable treatment that works in all cases. Scalp injections and topical treatments can be effective, but FDA-cleared and clinically proven laser therapy is increasingly a more popular treatment.

When I first started researching more long-term solutions to my hair loss, I was pleased to discover that Fantasia Hair Salon & Hair Restoration Center, a full service salon right in my neighborhood, offered the very latest in hair loss technologies. Fantasia Founder and Owner Twila Donley says: “At Fantasia, it’s our mission to restore a sense of self-confidence and normalcy to those who have suffered medical hair loss from any diagnosis,” says Twila. She herself has specialized in the field for more than 50 years, while she and her staff regularly take classes to learn about the latest alopecia treatments.

Twila says that in the 52 years Fantasia Hair Salon & Hair Restoration Center has been in business, she has seen alopecia patients as young as 8 and as long-standing as 80. “Alopecia or hair loss can be devastating at any age, and hair loss in children can cause untold stress to the parent and patient alike.”

Most women are unaware they suffer from hair loss – yet, most hair loss actually begins between the ages of 12 and 40. By the time they reach age 45, most women have already undergone close to 40% of their total hair loss. Therefore, the key is to get women in early – to prevent further hair loss.

“Hair loss can scar anyone’s self-esteem,” says Twila. “Fortunately, there are more and more advances every day in treating alopecia, and Fantasia Hair Salon & Hair Restoration Center is proud to be at the forefront of those advances.”

For me, Fantasia Hair Salon & Hair Restoration Center did more than just restore my hair – they restored my confidence, my self-image and – frankly! – my youth!