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Posted by 02.09.13

Hair extensions are en vogue and a fashion must-have for celebs such as Lady Gaga and Jessica Simpson. The ABC show Dancing with the Stars even has its own line of hair extensions including the flirtini ponytail, and Bango Tango clip-on bands.

But these hip hair products may do more than lengthen your hair; they can cause headache, tangles, and even baldness, according to an article in Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports’ Medical Adviser Orly Avitzur, MD,  investigated this trend after a patient with hair extensions complained of terrible headaches.

Her advice? “This is one beauty trend best avoided,” she writes.

Some extensions are made with human hair, while others use fake hair or a combination of real and synthetic hair to add length, volume, or even just strands or sections to your natural hair. They extensions can pull on the hair, and cause a loosening of the hair shaft from the follicle, as well as chronic inflammation.

“I see this all the time,” says facial plastic surgeon Yael Halaas, MD, a member of the AAFPRS. “If you wear a hair extension infrequently and it is not too tight, the damage is not so bad.”

People get into trouble when they wear tight extensions all the time. “It is repeated trauma that causes the problems,” she says.

What type of problems? Serious balding, thinning, and complaints about pain are commonplace in these cases. (Remember the photos of Britney Spears and model Naomi Campbell with bald spots that appeared in the tabloids? Jennifer Aniston has also admitted that her hair had become thin from extensions.)

This is known as traumatic alopecia, which is the medical term for baldness caused by trauma. “These individuals do make great candidates for hair transplants because there is no underlying genetic cause of the hair loss, it is just due to trauma,” said Dr. Halaas.


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