Weaves and extensions can cause permanent hair loss


by Regina Mobley, 13News


Posted on May 9, 2013 at 6:36 PM

NORFOLK - A few years ago, super model Naomi Campbell ruled the runway with her slim muscular figure, flowing locks and trademark bangs.  She still has a super figure, but last year the paparazzi caught on camera a problem hidden behind her bangs -- traction alopecia, a condition that's erased several inches of her hairline.

With the popularity of cornrows, hair weaves and hair extensions, doctors are seeing an increase in the number of women and young girls with bald spots.

Virginia Beach dermatologist Dr. Fred Quarles has a number of patients, mostly black women, with traction alopecia.  They turn to him for a solution, but often it's too late. 

"It's almost as bad as telling someone they have terminal cancer," said Quarles, in describing having to tell new patients their hair loss is permanent. 

Th disorder is caused when hair follicles are damaged by constant pulling or tension over a long period of time.  

The only fix is a transplant, which requires removing healthy hair plugs from the head and transplanting them to the scarred hairline.  That can cost about $4,000, according to Dr. Quarles.

Concerned about the increase in alopecia cases, Consumer Reports issued a warning saying these beauty shortcuts should be avoided.

Actress Jennifer Aniston recently complained she lost hair after using extensions. They're widely used in show business to give the stars a full and glamorous look.   

Closer to home, Miss Virginia USA contestant Amanda Jones told ABCNews her hair weave caused her pain, bleeding and hair loss.

At the Beauty Parlor in Norfolk,  owner Quincy Brown says with proper installation and care, customers can have a weave and their hairline too.  Brown says weaves and extensions should be replaced every six weeks.  In addition, braids used to anchor extensions should not be tight enough to cause pustular lesions.  Brown adds that proper cleansing and conditioning will keep natural hair healthy.