Aug 11

A teenager in the UK has reportedly received that nation’s first successful eyelash transplant surgery, a miracle procedure that became necessary because the teen suffers from trichotillomania.

A condition with no definite cause, trichotillomania causes up to 11 million people in the U.S. to compulsively pull out their own hair. Sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously, people with trichotillomania use their fingers to pluck out individual hairs from their head, their eyebrows, their pubic area, or in the case of the woman in Great Britain, from their eyelashes. Without intervention, the compulsive behavior can lead to bald spots, or the complete removal of hair from certain parts of the body.

Although it seems like the condition would have a psychological root cause, trichotillomania has been documented in patients as young as one year old. For Marni Bates, author of a new memoir about her own struggles with trichotillomania, hair-pulling was born out of a desire to be more attractive.

Marni convinced herself that pulling out her eyebrow hairs would make her more beautiful. By itself, eyebrow plucking is not an unusual thing, but when Marni’s hair-pulling also included her eyelashes and bangs, she knew her compulsion no longer had anything to do with a normal beauty regime.

After struggling with the condition all throughout high school, Marni is now successfully coping with it, and is working to raise awareness about the condition and the help that is available to other “trich teens.” In conjunction with the release of her autobiographical trichotillomania book, Marni answered questions about “trich” in a live web conference that was broadcast simultaneously on 30 websites. Marni fielded more than 300 questions and comments about trichotillomania from participants during that web event.

Currently there is no known cure for trichotillomania, but treatments similar to those used for patients with other obsessive compulsive disorders are often useful in helping to minimize the hair-pulling compulsion. Sometimes reconstructive surgery, like the eyelash transplant performed in Great Britain, is necessary to repair the long-term effects of the hair-pulling disorder.

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Aug 10

Three newly published authors, who wrote their books while they were still teenagers, will be the featured speakers in a series of web conferences that are being made available to an international audience this week.

The authors, Marni Bates, Emily Smucker, and Chelsey Shannon were each faced with a life-changing crisis when they were in their teens. Marni, developed trichotillomania (a hair pullng compulsion), Emily was stricken with a chronic and life-threatening illness (West Nile virus), an Chelsey was orphaned after her mother died of cancer and her father was murdered during a robbery. Each of the girls used their writing as a way to move through and get beyond their crisis. What they wrote was so poignant and powerful that it has now been published as part of a series of books called, “Louder Than Words.”

During the live web conferences, each of the girls will talk about their crisis, how they coped, what other teens can learn from their trauma, and how they came to be published at such a young age. Audience members watching the conference from their own computers around the world will be able to interact with the authors in real-time by submitting questions to them through the WebTV chat tool.

A different live conference event is scheduled each night from August 10 – 14 at 8:00 p.m. EST, and is freely available to all internet users. Details about and access to the web conferences are available at the publisher’s website.

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