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All you need to know about hair transplant

What is a hair transplant?

According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, approximately 6.8 million people in the United States and 147 million worldwide have or will develop hair loss at some point in their lives.

In that sense, hair loss is primarily caused by a combination of aging, a sudden change in the hormone patterns, or a family history of baldness.

A hair transplant is a procedure that removes hair from one part of the body, most likely from the back or side of the head to the bald scalp on your head known as the recipient site.

This minimally invasive technique is primarily used to treat male pattern baldness and can also be used to restore eyelashes, eyebrows, beard hair, chest hair, pubic hair and to fill in scars caused by accidents or surgery such as face-lifts and previous hair transplants.

Which types of hair transplant are available?

There are two types of transplant procedures:

Slit grafts, which contain 4 to 10 hairs per graft.

Micrografts, which contain 1 to 2 hairs per graft, depending on the amount of coverage needed.

Who is a good candidate for a hair transplant?

Only a certified dermatologist can perform a scalp exam to determine if you meet the criteria for a hair transplant.

Candidates are those with:

  • Overall general health

  • A receding line

  • Enough healthy hair on your scalp that can be transplanted to the area that needs hair

  • The ability to grow hair on the thinning area of your scalp

  • A realistic expectation.

Women with a widespread pattern of hair loss throughout the scalp, those who develop keloid scars, and people whose hair loss comes from medication are not good candidates for this procedure.

What is the success rate of hair transplant?

Professional hair transplantation is way over more successful than over-the-counter restoration products.

Up to 80% of the transplanted hair will fully grow back in an estimated three to four months. However, like regular hair, it may thin over time.

What are the risks of hair transplant?

Hair transplant surgery is normally safe when performed by a qualified, experienced board-certified plastic surgeon.

Potential risks of a hair transplant include:

  • Bleeding

  • Scarring

  • Scalp swelling

  • Crusting on the recipient area

  • Numbness or lack of sensation on the treated areas of the scalp

  • Inflammation or infection of the hair follicles, known as folliculitis

How is a hair transplant procedure like?

A usual hair transplant procedure takes anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.

After thoroughly cleaning your scalp, the donor area will be trimmed short so that the grafts can be easily accessed and removed. Then, your surgeon uses a small needle to numb an area of your head with local anesthesia.

Two main techniques are used to obtain hair follicles for transplantation:

Follicular unit transplantation (FUT):

In this technique, the surgeon removes a piece of your scalp of about 6 to 10 inches long.

Then, the scalp is separated into 500 to 2,000 smaller fragments, called grafts. Some of these grafts may contain only one hair each.

Using a needle or blade, the surgeon makes small holes in your scalp and inserts hairs from the removed piece of scalp into the recipient area.

The specific number of grafts you receive depends on your type of hair, size of transplant site, quality and thickness of hair, and hair color.


Follicular unit extraction (FUE):

This technique involves cutting the hair follicles directly from the back of the head through hundreds to thousands of tiny punch incisions.

The surgeon then makes tiny holes into the recipient area of a hair transplant and places them one by one.

After the grafting session is complete, the scalp will be cleaned and covered with gauze. You may have to wear a pressure bandage for a day or two and the stitches are usually removed after ten days following surgery.

What happens after a hair transplant surgery?

Your stitches and any bandages are removed about 10 days after surgery. You may return back to work a week after surgery.

Patients likely feel pain or soreness at the transplant site as well as in the area where hair was taken from.

Your surgeon may prescribe the following for the next few days:

  • Pain medication

  • Antibiotics to prevent infections

  • Anti-inflammatories to relieve swelling

  • Medications containing finasteride or minoxidil to help stimulate hair growth

 

Hair transplant patients usually require three or four sessions within several months apart and it may take up to a year before you see the final result with a full hair transplant series.

What should I expect during a hair transplant recovery?

You should not panic if the transplanted hair falls out within two or three weeks after the procedure.

This is a normal process that enables new hair to grow, most likely in a time period of six to nine months.

You may gently wash your hair within two days following surgery following your surgeon’s instructions.

Exercising or even sexual activity should be avoided for up to two weeks as it increases blood flow to the scalp and may cause your transplants or incisions to bleed.

Please follow your doctor’s guidelines and don’t miss your scheduled touch-up consultations.

When can I see the results of a hair transplant?

Most patients see results between six and nine months after surgery. For some patients, it may take up to 12 months.

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