From blinding headaches, to patchy hair loss and sometimes permanent damage, doctors are now warning about the dangers of hair extensions, the must-have accessory of celebrities on the red carpet.
Neurologist, Dr. Orly Avitzur of Terrytown, N.Y., who is also the medical adviser for Consumer Reports, told ABC News: ‘If you start to get hair loss, then stop immediately. The risk of going bald is great”.’
Hair extensions, where synthetic or real hair is attached onto a person’s existing hair or scalp by weaving, gluing, sewing or clipping it on, first became popular with actresses, but the treatment has quickly moved on to the mainstream. Women everywhere are using them.
Permanent damage from hair extensions is known as Traction Alopecia. Apparently the weight and tension on the wearer’s hair follicles can cause permanent damage and prevent hair regrowth.
One 46-year-old New York social worker, who prefers not to be named, said she ran to the doctor with blinding headaches. After blood work and an MRI scan of the brain checked out as normal, there was no explanation for the sudden pounding in the patient’s head.
She was sent to Dr Avitzur, who explained: ‘When I went to examine her and simply touched her scalp, she pulled away and winced when my fingertips touched her quite gently.
‘She had hundreds of these tightly braided hair braids. It was pretty clear to me that she did not need a work-up, but that she needed to remove her extensions.
The procedure, costing anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand, can be successful, however it is important to make sure the stylist attaches the extensions using a method that is tailored to your specific hair type.
If they’re attached too tightly, or weigh too much, problems can develop quickly.
Chicago cosmetologist Grace Santiler-Nowik, the president of the Professional Beauty Association’s Professional Council,explained: ‘It’s not something you tread into lightly. People want their hair thick and long, but they forget there’s a whole upkeep portion of it they have to maintain.’
Ms Santiler-Nowik emphasized that customers must return to the salon at regular intervals to have the extensions removed and replaced, and need to take a break from the hair pieces if they’re causing damage to a person’s hair.
‘I think it’s important for people to get education, there’s always a safe way to do things and a smart way to do things,’ she said.
Even Jennifer Aniston, who first gave the extensions a go as her character Rachel in Friend’s, is weary of the procedure.
She told Harper’s Bazaar: ‘I decided to have a couple of extensions, never knowing you would end up with 400 things in your head that cause your hair to break off. Nothing destroys your hair faster than extensions.’
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