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Hair Loss/Hair loss in 50-year-old woman; family history of breast cancer


I have been experiencing hair loss for some time; it has been happening slowly since my complete hysterectomy at age 42 for a large ovarian cyst. But, my hair loss has become more noticeable to me for the last year and a half. I once had a very thick head of hair and now my ponytail is easily half what it used to be. This is distressing. At first my hair loss was mostly around my temples, but now it is also behind my front hairline and it feels like it is becoming more diffuse around the scalp.

My mother has had thinning hair for most of her adult life. Now, at age 74, she has a receding hairline and her hair is diffusely thin, mostly across the top of her scalp. My father has a full head of hair at age 72. Both of my grandmothers had thinning hair as they aged.

I went to my dermatologist last year. She briefly glanced at my hair, pulled a few strands, and said my hair loss is hereditary (she also sees my mother as a patient). No tests ordered. She told me to use Rogaine, which I did. So, I have been using the Rogaine for the last year and I guess it has helped in some parts but sometimes it's hard to tell. My hair still feels like it's diffusely thinning--my head of hair just feels "lighter."

I am not on any hormone replacement, as my gynecologist said that it is best not to with family history of breast cancer. I take Zinc 50 mg, Fish Oil 2000 mg, Calcium 1500 mg, Vitamin E 200 IU, B-Complex Vitamins, and Vitamin C 1000 mg. I currently use Retin-A on my facial skin at night.
I use 5% Rogaine on my scalp in the AM and PM. I alternate gentle shampoos and use a Bosley conditioner for thinning, colored hair. (I have my hair colored about every 5 weeks.) Also, 7 years ago, I took a low-dose course of Accutane for persistent scarring acne and oily skin. (I did notice some hair thinning at this time, as well.)

My questions are:

1) What do you recommend for women with hair loss who are post-menopausal and have a family history of breast cancer. From perusing your answers, I know that the goal is to reduce the amount of DHT and that Avodart and Spironolactone are your recommendations to achieve this goal. Is it "safe" for women with my history to take these prescriptions?

2) Do you think that LLLT might help with my condition? Would using something like the Laser Cap plus the Rogaine I'm already using be beneficial?

3) Do you have any recommendation for a hair loss specialist in Honolulu? I live on Maui and there is no one here who treats hair loss specifically.

4) Would a hair transplant make sense for me at some point? Or does diffuse hair loss make this more difficult?

Thank you for bearing with me and answering these questions. I'm impressed with your knowledge and so thankful that you take the time to answer people about this extremely distressing situation!

1.I would consult an endocrinologist or an oncologist to find out if you could take Avodart or Spironolactone. i defer to them when it comes to medications which may affect hereditary breast cancer issues. Not all breast cancers fall in that category, so consult another expert in the field to find out what is "safe".
2. LLLT in the form of the LaserCap+ Rogaine may well help make your hair denser.
3. i do not know of anyone in Hawaii who specializes in medical or surgical hair restoration.
4. Follicular Unit Grafting has made hair transplantation for women with thinning hair a very successful procedure for most patients. The grafts are inserted in between the existing hairs.

Hair Loss

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Peter J. Panagotacos, <B>M.D.</B>


I have 30 years experience in the field of medical and surgical Hair Restoration and am Board Certified in Dermatology and Hair Restoration Surgery.


I have 30 years experience in the field of medical and surgical Hair Restoration and am Board Certified in Dermatology and Hair Restoration Surgery. More information can be found at my website

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