Hair Transplantation 

Hair transplantation aims at restoring hair growth in the parts of the scalp where it’s absent or limited. Generally, it’s an effective form of treatment for a variety of hair loss conditions, although it does not prevent further hair loss. Follow-up transplantations may be necessary for long-term results.

Thinning hair and hair loss are common as people get older. But sometimes, they can be caused by a medical problem or scalp trauma. For cosmetic or reconstructive purposes, some people with hair loss can consider undergoing a hair transplantation treatment. 

 

Types of Hair Transplantation 

The plastic surgeon takes out the hair follicles from a crowded part, like the back of the head, during hair transplantation. This area is known as the donor area. The follicles are then implanted into the microscopic incisions in the afflicted scalp area. 

Hair transplantation can be divided into two categories, including; 

  • Follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS): A strip of skin will be removed from the donor site. After that, the surgeon will seal the incision using stitches. He or she will then split the donor skin into microscopic follicular units containing one or more hair follicles and place the units in the appropriate location using a microscope. 
  • Follicular unit extraction (FUE): During this procedure, the plastic surgeon will take out the hair follicles from the donor site with a small punch device. While there will still be some scarring after this operation, it will be less apparent, and stitches are not normally required.

Both strategies are useful, but in some circumstances, they can produce different results. 

 

Who Need Hair Transplantation?

 Hair transplantation can help you look better and feel more confident. You might be a good candidate for a hair transplantation procedure if;

  • You are a man with male pattern baldness condition
  • You are a woman with hair thinning condition 
  • You have suffered hair loss as a result of a scalp injury or burn

On the other hand, hair transplantation is not good for you if;

  • You are a woman with an extensive hair loss pattern all over the head
  • You do not have sufficient "donor" hair spots for removing the transplantation hair
  • After surgery or an injury, you develop keloid scars (fibrous and thick scars)
  • You have lost your hair as a result of treatment like chemotherapy

Although hair transplantation surgery can improve your overall appearance and self-confidence, the results may not be what you hoped for. Consider your treatment expectations and talk about them with your plastic surgeon before deciding to undergo the procedure.

It's essential to know that all hair restoration treatments rely on your natural hair. The purpose of surgery is to identify the most effective methods of utilizing the existing hair.

 

How to Prepare for Hair Transplantation 

The provider in the hair transplantation clinic will provide you with precise guidelines on how to get ready for the procedure. These include instructions for people who smoke, what you should eat and drink, and if you should take or avoid particular vitamins and drugs. 

Following these guidelines carefully will make your surgical procedure easy and smooth. If you are a smoker, you should quit at least one or two weeks before treatment. This is because smoking reduces blood circulation to the skin and can affect recovery. 

Also, as you prepare, arrange to have someone drive back home once the hair transplantation surgery is done. Plan to rest for one or two days following the treatment, and ask for help where necessary. 

 

How Hair Transplantation is Performed

Regardless of the procedure utilized, a hair transplantation surgery is normally conducted under local anesthetic and sedation. This is to keep you relaxed and feel more comfortable. You won't feel any pain in your scalp, but you might feel some pressure or tugging. 

For more complicated situations that involve the expansion of the tissue or flaps, general anesthesia may be required. You will remain asleep during the procedure if a general anesthetic is administered.

FUSS and FUE are the two basic methods for retrieving hair follicles for transplantation.

Follicular unit strip surgery procedure involves the following steps:

  • Cutting a strip of scalp skin behind the head using a scalpel. Typically, the incision is a number of inches long.
  • Using stitches to seal the cuts
  • Using a sharp surgical knife and the magnifying lens to divide the scalp into smaller portions. These pieces, once implanted, will aid in the growth of natural-looking hair.

Hair follicles are extracted directly from behind the head using hundreds to thousands of small punch cuts in follicular unit extraction (FUE). Expect the following during the procedure; 

  • The surgeon uses a blade or a tiny needle to cut small holes in the part of the scalp that will receive the hair transplant. Hairs are then carefully implanted into the holes.
  • The surgeon can transplant up to hundreds or thousands of hairs during a single operating session.
  • For a few days, the gauze, graft, or bandages will be used to wrap the scalp.

hair transplantation procedure can take up to four hours or even more to complete. After about ten days following surgery, the surgeon will remove the stitches. To get the full head of hair you want, you might need three or four treatments sessions. These sessions are spaced a few months apart, enabling every transplant to recover properly. 

 

What Happens after Hair Transplantation? 

After hair transplantation surgery, the scalp might be painful, and you might have to take drugs such as; 

  • Pain relievers
  • Antibiotics to help prevent infection or reduce the risks 
  • Anti-inflammatory medications to keep the swelling at bay

After the treatment, most people can go back to work within a few days. The transplanted hair is expected to fall off two or three weeks following the treatment. This allows for the growth of new hair. After 8 to 12 months of the procedure, most individuals will notice the hair transplantation results, including new growth of hair. 

To enhance hair regrowth, the doctors can recommend minoxidil (Rogaine) or finasteride (Propecia), a hair growth medicine. These drugs can also assist in delaying or stopping hair loss in the future.

 

Hair Transplantation Long-Term Outlook 

Usually, hair grows back around the transplanted scalp sites in most individuals who have undergone hair transplantation. 

Depending on the following factors, the new hair might look more or less thick:

  • Scalp laxity or the looseness of the scalp skin
  • Follicle density in the transplanted area
  • Hair condition or caliber
  • Curling hair

You may continue to lose your hair around the non-treated parts of the scalp if you fail to take the prescribed medication (minoxidil or finasteride). This could also happen if you had low-level laser therapy.

It's thus crucial to talk to your plastic surgeon about the expected results and set realistic goals.

 

Hair Transplantation Risks and Side Effects 

When performed by a trained, experienced plastic surgeon, hair transplantation is generally a safe procedure. But even with effective hair transplantation, some of the negative effects that may occur include; 

  • Bleeding or infection

Cuts or incisions in the skin are necessary for hair transplantation. The incision is created to extract the donor follicles, and other smaller incisions are made on the scalp for follicles insertion. There is a possibility of infection or severe bleeding through any cuts. 

  • Swelling and pain

As the skin recovers following the operation, some individuals may feel slight or moderate pain. In such cases, the surgeon may prescribe pain medicines to ease the discomfort. Also, as the skin heals, you might experience some swelling around the head and the face.

  • Scarring

Scarring is also a possibility, both in the donor location and in the transplant area. Hence, it’s essential to discuss the potential risks with the surgeon before deciding to get the treatment. 

The FUSS procedure usually results in lengthy and linear scarring where a strip of the scalp was removed. As new hair develops around the scar, it may become concealed. However, if it widens while recovering, the nearby hair is thin, or when one keeps their hair short, the scar may be noticeable. 

The FUE procedure may potentially cause scars in the site in which the surgeon used the punch instrument to remove the follicles. These scars, on the other hand, might not be as extensive as the FUSS scar. 

Other possible hair transplantation side effects can include; 

  • Bruises in the area around the eyes
  • Formation of a crust on the scalp after hair has been removed or implanted
  • A lack of sensation or numbness in the scalp's treated spots 
  • Itchiness 
  • Folliculitis, an infection or the inflammation of the hair follicles.
  • Shock loss or a loss of transplanted hair that occurs suddenly (this is usually only temporary)
  • Tufts of hair that don't appear natural

 

Conclusion 

Hair transplantation may be a viable alternative for those who are experiencing hair thinning or loss. Although it might not be a long-term treatment for thinning hair, it could help most people regain hair fullness and confidence. 

Before deciding to have hair transplantation treatment, consult your doctor or plastic surgeon. You should also know that the procedure is not guaranteed to be effective, and scarring is possible. You may also be ineligible for the operation due to the volume or quality of your hair.