Hair Transplantation

By: Vivacare - Dr. Mark Becker

Hair transplantation is a procedure used for the treatment of male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). It may also be used to treat other forms of hair loss.

In recent years hair transplants have become less expensive and achieved better results.

Although there are a variety of hair transplantation techniques, the core principle of each technique is the same. Hair follicles from areas of thick growth (“donor” sites) are transfered to balding areas (“recipient” sites).

Your doctor will recommend a hair transplant procedure based on several factors, including your tendency to scar, the quality of skin at the donor site, and his or her clinical experience. The hair that grows from transplanted follicles will have the same color and texture it had before it was moved.

Hair transplantation is performed on an outpatient basis. Mild sedation may be an option in addition to local anesthesia. The procedure typically lasts about four hours and pain relief may be offered for the first 2 to 3 days following the procedure.

How is it performed?

Donor Site

Before the procedure, healthy hair follicles are identified with the help of a magnifiying scope. Donor areas are selected based on the density of hair follicles and how well the hairs match the hairs of the recipient sites. The donor area is then sterilized. The hair follicles are then removed in one of two ways. A strip of skin (about a quarter inch wide) with the hair follicles is removed. Alternatively, a small round punch may be used to remove individual groups of hair follicles. This is known as follicular unit extraction (FUE). If a strip of skin is removed, sutures are used to close the wound. The wound takes about 7-10 days to heal and a small scar remains. This scar is usually covered well by the surrounding hair.

Recipient Area

The recipient area is sterilized. Then multiple small incisions are made in the recipient area to receive the hair follicles. The incisions made at a precise depth and angle to make sure that there is an adequate blood supply for hair follicle and lead to a proper cosmetic result. Then a small piece of skin with a cluster of hair follicles is carefully inserted into the incision. Each inserted section contains as many hair follicles as possible. Hundreds or thousands of follicles may be inserted in a single session.

What to Expect

Small crusts form on the skin at the recipient site as the wounds heal. These fall after after 3 to 10 days. The transplanted hairs will fall out in the first few weeks. This is caleld “shock loss”. However, most of the hair follicles that were moved remain alive and healthy and ready to grow new hair in another 2 to 3 months. In most cases, over 90% of transplanted hair follicles will go on to grow hair for as long as they were naturally destined.

The hair will grow normally, and continue to thicken over 6-9 months.

Since hair loss can worsen over the years, balding areas may appear in areas that were not treated. Some people choose to use hair loss medications, such as Propecia® or Rogaine®, to reduce the likelihood of such loss. Others plan for a future hair transplant procedure to treat yet-to-appear balding areas.

Complications

There may be mild-to-moderate swelling of the forehead that arises 2 to 3 days after the procedure and lasts for 3 to 7 days. In some cases, the swelling may be accompanied by bruising around the eyes that lasts for about a week. Although uncommon, there can be post-operative bleeding or infection. If too many follicles are transferred at one time, or the follicles are placed too densely together, a greater percentage of transplanted hair follicles may not grow.