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Hair Transplant Guide


Beauty defines consciousness. And often beauty is skin deep and hair long. Hair is an integral part of the beauty regime and affects your looks. Very few people can carry off the bald look attractively. And that only includes the male gender. For females going bald does not even bear consideration. You might even need therapy to get over that shock. The good news is that medical science has your back. There are lots of options available to you to not only prevent hair fall and baldness but even cure baldness with the hair transplant. The best thing will be if your body behaves in the fashion that it should and gives you a thick head of healthy lustrous hair straight off the magazine cover. Unfortunately, the reality is generally bitter. This article will help you understand the science behind transplanting hair thereby armoring you with the option of making an informed choice.

Understanding Hair Transplant

In absolute layman terms, it is a procedure wherein the hair follicles are transplanted from one part of the head to another part where the hair is judged to be thinning or bald patches are occurring. It is a surgical process not a cosmetic process and requires a qualified medical practitioner to perform. The area from which the hair is removed to be transplanted is called the “donor site” and the area that receives the hair is called the “recipient site”.

Going Back to Its Roots – The Need for Transplant

You must be wondering why you need a hair transplant, to begin with? The obvious answer is to increase the density of hair on various parts of the body caused due to hair loss. Typically, an average adult loses about 100 strands of hair daily. Anything over this is not normal and will result in hair thinning over time. The American Academy of Dermatology lists the signs and symptoms of hair loss as:

  • Gradual thinning on the scalp specifically the top of the head
  • The appearance of bald spots
  • Visibly receding hairline
  • Sudden acute hair fall
  • Skinnier ponytail

The next question that will you have is what causes hair loss? Mayo Clinic lists some of the basic reasons to help you understand this:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Other medical conditions like scalp infections
  • Radiation exposure to the scalp
  • Prolonged stress
  • Continuous exposure to hair treatments
  • Genetics

And now the final question to settle the topic of hair loss is prevention. The million-dollar question that everybody wonders about is can hair loss be prevented? You can easily prevent hair loss to an extent by following these points:

  • Healthy and nutritious diet
  • Minimize the stress levels
  • Avoid unnecessary hair treatments
  • Ensuring proper hygiene
  • Taking appropriate medical help for underlying medical causes

Are You the Right Candidate for Hair Transplant?

Before contemplating a hair transplant, you need to decide if you are even the right person for it. Making an informed choice will help you avoid both future disappointments and unrealistic expectations. Generally, people keep hair transplant as their last go-to option, when all the other methods to stop hair loss and improve hair density have been exhausted. There are a lot of issues to consider when deciding if a hair transplant is the correct choice for you. These can broadly be classified as:

  • Age
  • The Donor Hair Density
  • Medical Conditions

Out of these, the most important factor is whether you have enough healthy hair on your scalp to transplant to the affected area and if that area will be able to regenerate the hair that has been removed. Age, of course, plays a vital role in these two points. The younger you are the better your scalp’s ability to regrow hair.

To assess your scalp’s health the dermatologist will do a scalp test or even a scalp biopsy if required. Some people also need to undergo blood tests to understand the hormonal levels of your body which affect hair growth.

Types of Hair Transplant Surgeries

The method of Hair Transplant has a few applications differing on the needs of the patient. The main types as per Health. Vic is:

  • Hair Transplant Graft: Performed under local anesthesia. It involves grafting about 1000 to 2000 hair follicles in one setting with larger areas of baldness requiring about 4000 follicles per session.
  • Flap Surgery: This is used when the area for transplantation is extensive. This might require a hospital stay and is performed under general anesthesia.
  • Scalp Reduction Surgery: Used to treat bald patches on the scalp at the back and top of the scalp but not towards the front of the scalp. This is also done under the influence of local anesthesia.

It’s important to understand that the donor hair follicles don’t necessarily have to come from the scalp. Though scalp donor hair is the most convenient. Different parts of the body can also be used for this purpose. The popular parts are:

  • Chest
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Torso
  • Legs

This type of surgery is called “Body Hair Transplant” (BHT) and can only be performed using the FUE method of harvesting. Further, not everyone can undergo the FUE method. There are restrictions on the candidates where the appropriate candidates are chosen following a “Fox” test. Further, take care that FUE requires a higher more specialized level of expertise.

What Can You Expect Out of the Procedure?

It can be daunting to think about undergoing a procedure without knowing what it would entail. Here’s the guide from MedLine Plus to take you to step by step through the actual procedure:

  • Most patients stay awake during the process. Local anesthesia is given to numb the scalp. You might also be given some mild sedative for relaxing.
  • The scalp is cleaned thoroughly with shampoo and then treated with an anti-bacterial agent to prevent infection.
  • Healthy hair is removed by the dermatologist. There are two ways of doing this:
    • A strip of your “donor Scalp” is removed with the help of a scalpel and set aside.
    • Individual hairs are removed directly from the scalp.
  • In the case of strip removal, the open wound will then be closed using tiny stitches.
  • From the removed scalp, small bits of hair or even individual hair are separated.
  • The removal of individual hair from the scalp is done using robotic assistance or superior tools.
  • The bald areas of the scalp which will receive these donor’s hairs are then cleaned and prepped. This area is known as the “recipient” area.
  • Tiny incisions or cuts are made to the prepped “recipient” areas.
  • The removed healthy hair is then placed in those cuts made.
  • A single treatment allows hundreds to thousands of hairs to be grafted.

Types of Harvesting Methods

Harvesting in hair transplant refers to the act of removing healthy hair follicles from the dense area of the scalp to graft it in the bald areas. Even the way the hair is removed can differ according to the method used. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Whichever type is used the result has to be proper extraction of the hair follicles. You have to understand that this process of extraction can be very tricky since your hair grows at a particular angle and the extraction has to be done at that corresponding angle. The basic types of harvesting are:

  • Strip Harvesting
  • Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
  • Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT)
  • Robotic Hair Restoration

Out of these, the strip harvesting technique is the most commonly used. It is the easiest and the most convenient way of harvesting but it will leave a scar on the scalp. Also, the stitches or the staples applied will have to be removed by the dermatologist. FUT is an extension of the stripping process wherein the follicles harvested are only removed from the back of the head. The FUE, on the other hand, is a very time-consuming process. It can be one single long session or it can be broken down into multiple shorter sessions. It does provide very natural results and the biggest advantage is that it leaves no scar on the scalp, unlike the strip method. Disadvantages would include the higher cost and increased surgical time. Robotic hair restoration is the FUE process where the hair is harvested with the help of robotic arms.

Post Operation Expectations

You must be wondering what you can expect immediately after the transplantation surgery. Some of the points to prepare for are:

  • Numbness
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Tightness in the scalp
  • You may have to wear dressing and bandages
  • Scab formation on the treated areas of the scalp
  • General discomfort including pain and throbbing

Taking Care of Yourself Post Operation

Your body has just undergone a stressful event especially your scalp or other affected body areas. To help yourself get over this invasive process you need to take special care over the next couple of weeks. Some of how you can do that are:

  • Carefully understand and follow all the instructions given by the dermatologist.
  • Any strenuous activity that has the potential to increase your blood pressure putting you at the risk of bleeding must be avoided.
  • Instantly inform your surgeon of any bleeding or severe pain that you might be experiencing.

When Can You Expect the Results?

Patience is the main key here. You have to remain patient for at least 6 to 9 months. For some people, the results only appear after about a year or so. Remember that the transplanted hair will fall out after 6 to 8 weeks. This is perfectly normal and there’s no cause for panic. Also, your hair will look progressively thinner than before by the third month. Again this is perfectly normal and shouldn’t worry you. It takes about nine months for the hair follicles to take root in the scalp and start redeveloping or filling in. So, you will probably see the desired result of that full head of hair only post nine months.

Positive Factors Favoring Hair Transplant

After reading through the details of this procedure you are probably wondering whether it’s even advantageous to go through such a tedious process. Some of the pros of transplantation are:

  • Aesthetic value
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Long term permanent solution
  • Results in manageable soft glossy hair
  • Relatively painless since performed under anesthesia
  • Low maintenance

Risk Factors to Review before Making Your Choice

Complications arising from transplantation of hair are far and few. True complications are an exception and not the norm. The few that you can expect in the worst-case scenario are:

  • Allergic reaction from the anesthesia
  • The donor area infection especially on the resulting scar. This usually resolves by itself once the stitches are removed
  • Epidermal cysts which are a little serious and require drainage
  • Nerve damage leading to permanent loss of sensation
  • Ugly scars that can vary from mild to severe with redness and itchiness
  • Further surgery to treat these ensuing complications

Apart from the risk and complications, it will also be helpful to keep certain other points under consideration. These include:

  • Realistic Expectations: Don’t go in thinking about and expecting a miracle. If your hair was very thin and sparse, to begin with, the result will not be hair straight off the runway.
  • Smoking: Yes, smoking even affects the procedure. The risk of complications increases if you smoke. Seriously consider quitting before you go in for the hair transplant.
  • Medical Treatment: You may have to undergo continued medical treatment even after the surgery.
  • The Cost Involved: Hair transplant surgery is an expensive procedure that can run a hole through your pocket. Be very sure about the cost-benefit to yourself before signing up.

Clearing Common Doubts

How Successful Is A Hair Transplant?

It is more successful than other hair revival products that are available in the market. But you must remember that even the transplanted hair will grow and thin like regular hair over time.

Is Hair Transplant Permanent or Temporary?

In one word “Yes”, it is permanent. The hair follicles used to fill the balding areas are from your body. The process of removal and subsequent insertion makes these follicles resistant to the hair loss hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) making the process permanent.

How Painful Is the Hair Transplant Procedure?

It’s generally postoperative and is experienced primarily in the FUT procedure.

How Much Does Hair Transplant Cost?

On average transplanting, about 1000 hair grafts can cost you anywhere between Rs 25,000 to Rs. 100,000. The exact amount will depend on factors like the area, expertise, location, etc.

Transplantation of hair on the scalp is a very attractive alternative especially when other methods to revive hair growth have failed. However, it is an invasive method requiring surgery. The ultimate results will depend and vary according to the expertise of the selected surgeon. Remember that ultimately you have to undergo the procedure. Knowing about the science behind the transplantation procedure will help you in making an educated decision.

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