In July 2010 Channel 4 featured a documentary about the specialist services offered by Lucinda Ellery for clients with Trichotillomania. Girls on the Pull told the story of two of our Trichotillomania clients – Harriet and Amelia.
Hair Pulling and Resultant Hair Loss
Trichotillomania (TTM) is a neurobiological condition that causes overwhelming urges to pull out your own hair. It affects around eight women to every man, and estimates suggest that 2% of the world’s population may at some time suffer from this problem. If you are one of the millions of people worldwide who are struggling with this challenging and traumatic disorder, we can help you.
For many women, the initial consultation with Lucinda Ellery and her team is the first time that they have ever been able to speak candidly about pulling out their hair, and to allow someone to view the damage. We believe that finding the courage to seek professional help is a key first step towards getting better.
The Goal is Regaining Your Own Hair!
With 25 years of experience in managing TTM, we know that the earlier the urge to pull is intercepted, controlled, and channelled more positively, the better the chances of growing (and keeping) your own hair.
What is TTM?
TTM (Hair Pulling Disorder) is an impulse control disorder, which can negatively impact on your well-being, and very ability to function normally. Women with TTM often pull out their hair to help deal with feelings of anxiety, anger, and boredom. Hair is often pulled absent-mindedly, or simply as a result of being over-tired.
Because hair is so vital to our own identity and esteem – and is even dubbed our ‘crowning glory’ - many sufferers feel remorse, shame and self-loathing after pulling. Damaging our own hair undoubtedly leads to severe anxiety, which can then spark a new round round of pulling. A truly horrible vicious cycle.
What We Can Do to Help
A personal service, tailored to your individual needs
At Lucinda’s studios, we meet every client personally and run through what options are best suited to you. Some women have very mild TTM, where hair-pulling is an occasional reaction to stress. Others have large areas of scalp they have systematically plucked clean. Some barely even notice what they are doing until they look down and see a pile of hair around them.
Our clients are urged to ask questions and to tour our studios and consult case studies to get a sense of what we do and of our commitment. Taking this first step can be daunting but we will only advise on what we feel is best for you.
Many of our treatment methods make use of our Intralace System™ which has the advantages of creating a barrier to hair-pulling and also in disguising bare patches. The Intralace System™ is NOT a cure however, and may not prevent further hair-pulling in severe cases where more than 60-70% of the hair has gone. Regardless, even in the most chronic hair loss situations, the system can still dramatically improve quality of life and enable you to have the appearance of a full head of hair that can be washed and styled.
What it CAN do (if your hair loss is less than approximately 60%), is be a fantastic tool to support your intention to become pull-free, all the while looking fabulous and lovely!
Please note that we recommend working in tandem with a professional Cognitive Behavioural Therapist as such a combined approach can be very helpful.
Helping Younger Sufferers
We have clients as young as 16 and many girls do best in an Intralace System because the physical barrier of its mesh base actually prevents them from being able to pull hair from their usual sites. The emotional boost girls get from having a full head of hair that looks normal - from being able to do sport and swim without fear, and from fitting in at school again- is often remarkable. Looking good boosts their self-esteem, and reminds them how nice having their hair again is, which can help increase determination to stop pulling.
We tend not to work with children younger than 16, as they are often not ready for the amount of care and attention required by the Intralace System™. But if you as a parent feel your daughter is capable of managing the system, we would be potentially willing to consult under-16s on a case-by-case basis.
Encouraging Overall Well-being
Self-care and help is another avenue we encourage at Lucinda Ellery, and we believe in the possibilities of working with a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist or other therapeutic professionals, meditation and stress-management classes. Physical exercise, like dancing, swimming, running, hiking, yoga and Pilates are also important for human well-being. Not only does healthy movement give skin a lovely tone and improve overall mood, but when combined with “new hair” it gives an enormous boost.
Trich and the visible effects of pulling tends to take over women's lives, everything they do has to be considered with whether they need to cover or rearrange their hair. Preparing to go out takes longer, some activities are given up, even just walking in the rain or on a windy day becomes something to be avoided. We have often noticed the huge sense of relief that our clients express that they can be normal again – can do the things everyone else does without having to worry about their hair, even the simple acts of washing and styling without spending hours in covering bare patches gives them a sense of normality which helps them feel that they have turned the corner in their battle with this condition and can feel content again.
After 25 years of experience, we are still continually humbled and feel immense gratitude in witnessing the positive impact our services have on our clients.
Disguising Permanent Damage
Many years of pulling can cause permanent damage, and for these clients, the Intralace System™ is often the only method other than a wig which can effectively disguise the damage. The advantage over a wig being that it provides a more natural look, a more normal washing and brushing routine, and a far more secure feeling that allows normal everyday activities without the constant worry of it being dislodged.
We advise clients to have the system checked by us every six weeks so they can keep their hair looking its best.
If you wish to speak to us about hair pulling please call one of our studios or use our Trichotillomania Contact form
International No Pulling Week 1st - 7th October
Our campaign to increase awareness and understanding of the effect on women of Trichotillomania is taking place again this year. Watch out for press articles and let's get everyone talking about how they can help friends or family who suffer from it.
See our No Pulling Week website.
Trichotillomania - Before and After Gallery
This lady first visited Lucinda Ellery when she was 11 years of age and then again in her late teens and is now pull free!
Four clients who've suffered from Trichotillomania discuss their experience with Lucinda.