Heidi Powell, the superfit mum of four who co-hosts America’s ABC network show Extreme Weight Loss, has spoken out about the hair loss that has caused her to try out a multitude of potential cures.
Powell told Women’s Health magazine that she first started losing her hair about three years ago, following a string of stressful incidents. These included the death of her father and surgery for a kidney stone. She’d also just given birth to her fourth child, Ruby.
Noticing that her hair suddenly appeared to be thinning, Powell started adding clip-in hair extensions – but things got steadily worse and she soon started seeing bald spots.
Different doctors recommended different things – one said that she was intolerant to gluten, which is certainly something that has been linked to Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune disorder that leads to sudden bald patches – but it wasn’t until she visited a hair loss specialist that she got a satisfactory diagnosis.
This doctor told Powell that while stress and hormones can initiate thinning hair in women, in her case the upheaval she had been through had actually kick-started Female Pattern Hair Loss. This genetic condition is surprisingly common and causes the hair along the top of the scalp to become increasingly thinner.
In other words, Powell’s shedding appears to have begun as the condition Telogen Effluvium, which lists stress and hormones among other things as trigger factors. Postpartum Alopecia – hair loss after giving birth – is also a form of this temporary condition. While Telogen Effluvium often clears itself up in six months or so, it can also persist – at which point it becomes known as Chronic Telogen Effluvium or Diffuse Thinning – and it can also exacerbate genetic hair loss in those with an existing hereditary predisposition, as appears to be the case with Heidi Powell.
Telogen Effluvium treatment is short-term and can be very effective at accelerating hair growth. However, if genetic thinning is also diagnosed, then a custom hair loss treatment course will need to be devised and this will need to be followed on an ongoing basis. This is because Female Pattern Hair Loss is a permanent condition which can often be successfully managed using treatment, but there is currently no absolute or one-off ‘cure’.
For Heidi, the past few years have certainly been taxing, not least because her image is very much focused around being healthy, fit and beautiful.
She tells Women’s Health: “I was like, ‘When I’m bald, am I going to have to wear a wig? What happens at night?’ So much of my message is, ‘Be authentic, real, and perfectly imperfect,’ but now it’s like being faced with, ‘Who am I going to be without this – without my hair?’”
She adds that when she has spoken on social media about how losing her hair feels and how hair makes her feel feminine, she has received “a decent amount of backlash.” “But I can’t help how I feel,” she adds.
Laser treatment for thinning hair
The TV star appears to have come to terms with her hair thinning, however, and explains that she has now been using a ‘laser cap’ for the past seven months. She may be referring to the Theradome Laser Helmet, a device whose American makers say can stop hair loss, thicken existing hair and grow new hair. Designed by a former NASA scientist it utilises low-level laser light to stimulate the scalp. Reviews of the helmet on Amazon are mixed, though, with 23 per cent giving it just one star. She may also be referring to a device called the LaserCap, which uses similar technology and was developed by an Ohio-based company.
These new wearable LLLT devices follow on from the original LaserComb hand-held LLLT which was the first device of this kind to be cleared for use by the FDA. It is slowly combed through the hair and uses patented technology to part the hair during treatment, allowing the laser beams better access directly to the scalp.
Heidi Powell says that after wearing the helmet four times a week for 30 minutes per session, “some hairs are starting to thicken.” She still uses hair extensions – despite the risks they carry – and plans to have “plasma injections” in the next couple of weeks. She is likely referring to platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment, a technique in which a patient’s blood is extracted, put through a centrifuge and then the enriched plasma – containing growth factors – is re-injected into the scalp.
What all of the above have in common – with the exception of hair extensions – is that they are considered hair growth boosters as opposed to hair loss treatments. This is because their actions are not generally considered sufficiently effective when used on their own, without the primary clinically-proven treatment for women’s hair loss, minoxidil. They can, however, be combined and, at Belgravia we have found using boosters alongside recommended formulations of high strength minoxidil to produce significant results for our female clients.
It is certainly true that many women are slow to seek out expert help for Female Pattern Hair Loss because of the perceived stigma attached to it, coupled with the fact that its onset can be very gradual. However, we would encourage anyone who notices hair fall similar to Heidi’s to take that first step and at least have a consultation at a hair loss clinic. We hear so often how just finding someone who can provide a professional diagnosis, support and all the information needed to decide how to deal with the problem, can be an immense relief.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.