I’ve never been an especially vain person, the kind who spends hours every day staring into the mirror worshiping her own reflection, but I’ve always felt confident and attractive. I vividly remember the experience of looking into the mirror on my wedding day. Every woman deserves to feel like a princess on that one magical day, and my stylist did not disappoint. Gazing into the mirror, my heart was lifted as I saw what glamorous, elegant potential had lain dormant in my 23 year-old hair. Princess? No, I was looking at the reflection of the Queen of Chicago, at least for a day.
…and then I looked down.
I was used to seeing a few strands of hair left on the brush in the morning, and never thought anything of it, but the amount of hair left behind in the sink after being styled just didn’t seem right. It wasn’t quite as if a baby mammoth had taken a bath in the sink, but it was more hair than I was used to, and it worried me. Of course, I had bigger concerns that day, being about to walk down the aisle, and I figured a little shedding might be normal collateral damage when working with a great stylist, so I put it out of my mind and went about the happiest day of my life.
That pre-wedding hair scare was just the beginning of what would become a nightmare battle with female hair loss. I definitely wasn’t prepared to be struggling with this. My mom still had thick, beautiful hair, and my grandmother’s hair only started to thin once she turned 80. 23? Really? I tried to convince myself it was nothing, but every day there’d be just a little more hair left behind in the sink, and every day the mirror was showing me a person I recognized just a little less. By the time the wedding pictures came back, my thinning, spotting hair was noticeable, and I didn’t look like the woman in those pictures any more. My husband was kind and supportive and still told me I looked fine, but in my mind, I went from Queen of Chicago to court jester.
At first, I hoped that just having it cut and styled around the thinning would do the trick. I’ve always worn my hair long, and shortening it took some getting used to. Sometimes, I’d leave the salon surprisingly happy, finding that some shorter cuts were cute and flattering, but soon the mirror would clear its throat with a reality check: new thinning, new shedding were even harder to disguise with short hair. I knew that hiding the problem was not an option. I was going to have to go on the attack.
Maybe I missed the day in school when they taught what to do about fighting female hair loss in your 20’s, but I didn’t know where to turn. Especially living in a metropolis like the Chicago area, there are all sorts of options out there, ranging from legitimate, proven therapies to voodoo and scams. I’m not writing to tell anybody what she should choose–every woman’s needs are unique and she should find what works for her. Maybe some are okay with the Mr. Clean look. It worked for Sinead O’Connor, after all, but that was never an option for me. I tried various wigs for what seemed like ages. Some women are happy with them, but every time I looked in the mirror, I was very aware that it wasn’t really my hair, wasn’t really me. Besides, with my natural hair’s thickness changing so frequently beneath the, it was difficult to make the wigs fit securely, and the experience of wig slippage during a night out on the town is one I wouldn’t recommend. I tried just about every topical cream, every pill on the market. Some of them are the genuine article and have helped a lot of women and men, but I just never got the kind of results that made me comfortable facing the mirror each morning.
Several years into my struggle with female hair loss, I was watching Good Morning America and heard about an interesting new hair restoration method called PRP. I’ll admit that the notion of injecting cells harvested from my own blood into my scalp sounded a little Frankenstein-y at first, but the women on the show seemed to have good experiences. When I learned that ABC News chief women’s health correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, received the treatments herself and experienced positive results, I knew this was worth looking into further.
Not yet ready to permanently weld a bucket over my head, I started researching PRP hair restoration in Chicago. It was with great relief that I discovered the Liposuction and Cosmetic Surgery Institute. With Dr. Leon Forrester Tcheupdjian at the helm, leading a team of experienced professionals, I knew I was in the capable hands of people I could trust. The Institute team answered all my questions, walking me through the process so I knew what to expect. The idea of needles in your head might sound a little scary, but it was really a pain-free process. The most amazing thing was how quickly I saw results. Though the optimal regrowth time is four months into the process, within just a few weeks, my hair looks noticeably better.
I’ve got a ways to go, so I’m not that girl in the wedding picture just yet, but I don’t have any trouble facing the mirror, which now promises great things to come.