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New England’s Foremost Authority on Hair Restoration Says Genetics, Not Stress, Leads to Hair Loss

CRANSTON, Rhode Island – Dr. Robert Leonard, chief surgeon and founder of Leonard Hair Transplant Associates, is questioning the results of a new study which found stress can cause hair loss in women. Leonard says the study, which is of only about 200 people, is better described as an observational study rather than a true medical, double-blinded study, and while it is interesting, it is not at all conclusive.

According to the study, extreme stress created by divorce or death of a spouse increased the likelihood that a woman will suffer from hair loss. The study also states that excessive sleeping patterns, having multiple children, smoking and the stresses of getting married also contribute to hair loss. The study goes on to say it found women who protected their head from excessive sunlight by wearing a hat faced a lower overall risk of hair loss.

“In the vast majority of cases, genetics and not stress is responsible for long-term, progressive hair loss,” said Dr. Robert Leonard, New England’s foremost authority on hair restoration. “The myth that stress can cause hair loss has existed for a long time, and while it is often perpetuated by medically-trained doctors, it remains simply untrue.”

Leonard continues, “Certainly, as pointed out in the study, reactive hair loss (or telogen effluvium) is self limiting and can be caused by stressors to the body such as pregnancy, exposure to general anesthesia, and major trauma. By and large, this is not the progressive hair loss that is observed in the vast majority of men and women suffering from hair thinning and baldness.”

Dr. Leonard, who has been in practice for more than 25 years, says a person will not realize they are suffering from clinical hair loss until 50 percent of their hair has already fallen out. Because some physical traumas, such as child birth, can cause hair to shed, people will associate the trauma with causing their thinning hair, when the reality is that their hair started thinning years before.

“50 million men and 30 million women suffer from clinical hair loss,” Dr. Leonard continued. “That’s a large segment of the general population, and it’s no surprise that some of those people may have had a divorce, smoke, or spend time in the sun. Still, it’s not the major cause of their hair loss.”

Dr. Leonard says there are a host of myths related to hair loss, including:

• Cutting your hair short will make it grow back longer and stronger.
• Excessive washing or shampooing damages the follicle, causing your hair to fall out.
• Overexposure to the sun will turn your hair brittle, leading to hair loss.
• Wearing a baseball cap or hat will cause thinning hair or baldness.
• Swimming in chlorinated or salt water will dry out your hair, causing it to fall out.

Dr. Leonard says there are multiple treatments for people suffering from male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss, and the best course of action can be developed after consulting with a specialist who is an American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery (ABHRS) certified physician. Options include non-surgical medical therapies such as Rogaine® or Propecia®, Low Level Laser Therapy, or hair transplantation.