Hair Transplant- Hair Restoration/ Transplant, Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery
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Hair transplant surgery is a procedure done by a plastic or dermatologic surgeon to relocate hair follicles from normal hair-covered areas of the scalp to bald areas. There are several surgical techniques that can be performed to regain a fully hair-covered scalp, and your doctor will explain to you the risks and benefits of each technique.
Causes of baldness
Hair loss is in most cases caused by genetics, a condition called “pattern baldness” or “androgen alopecia”. This type is especially common in men, where genetic and hormonal factors affect hair growth and contribute to male-pattern baldness.
There are, however, some other causes of baldness, which include:
- Malnutrition and diet
- Certain illnesses
- Hormonal disturbances
- Certain medications
A typical good candidate will have an acceptable remaining surface area covered with hair to be utilized as a donor site. Hair transplant is not suitable for people who lose their hair while receiving chemotherapy.
Hair transplant surgery is an outpatient procedure, and it can be done in your doctor’s office or at a hospital. The procedure is performed using local anesthesia that’s injected under the skin of your scalp. You will be awake during the procedure but should not feel any pain. Regardless of the procedure type, the donor site of the scalp will be shaved before surgery to make it easier to extract.
There are two types of hair transplant surgery that can be performed:
- Follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS): To perform this technique, the surgeon will remove a 6-10 inch long strip of normal hair-covered scalp from the back or sides of your head (donor site), and then close the skin. This strip is then cut into small pieces and then implanted into the bald areas of your scalp.
- Follicular unit extraction (FUE): During this procedure, the surgeon will remove innumerable individual tiny hair follicles from the normal hair-covered area of your scalp by performing hundreds or thousands of small punch incisions. The extracted hair follicles will then be implanted in the bald regions of the head after it has been prepped by tiny incisions to receive the grafts.
You might need several sessions to cover all of your bald areas. Each session can take several hours to complete, and they are performed months apart to allow proper healing. Stitches are usually removed after 10 days, and you might be discharged with a gauze dressing on the treated areas.
Other surgical hair replacement techniques include:
- Tissue expansion: An expander balloon is implanted under the scalp and is inflated to expand the overlying hair-covered scalp over weeks. The expanded skin is then used to cover bald areas of the head
- Flap surgery: Your surgeon will cut out a hair-covered part of the scalp, but keep it attached to the blood vessels supplying it, and relocate it in a way to cover the bald areas.
- Scalp reduction: The surgeon will perform an incision and excise bald areas of the scalp, and then pull the hair-covered areas closer together.
Hair transplant surgery is a safe procedure. Some of the possible side effects of surgery include:
- Surgical site infection
- Bleeding from your wounds
- Swelling of your scalp
- Bruising around your eyes
- Loss of sensation in some of the treated areas
- Losing your transplanted hair temporarily (known as shock loss)
- Scalp itchiness
- Unnatural looking results
You should always discuss the risks of surgery with your doctor during your initial visit.
Recovery and results
You will typically be discharged shortly after the procedure is done. Your scalp will feel sore for the first few days, and you can expect some degree of swelling.
Your doctor will prescribe you some medications that will include painkillers, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Some doctors might also prescribe minoxidil or finasteride, which are drugs that stimulate hair growth.
You might need some home rest for a couple of days to recover after surgery. You should not worry if the transplanted hair falls out during the first weeks after surgery, as this is completely normal, and new hair will grow back in this region.
You should have realistic expectations. Your transplanted hair should start growing back during the first few months after surgery, and you might need 8 to 12 months to see the full results.