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Hair Care

Hair Transplant: Procedures, Complications and Tips

Want a permanent solution for baldness and hair loss? Then, a hair transplant is an answer. The advancements and the innovative procedures in hair transplantation have made it possible to create natural-looking results, thus achieving the best aesthetics.

What is a hair transplant?

Hair transplants are restoration methods to treat hair thinning or pattern baldness in both men and women. The procedure involves grafting hair taken from thicker and fuller scalp areas or other parts of the body. It is minimally invasive and quite promising depending on different factors. Hair transplantation is for scalp hair and is also used to treat and restore the loss and thinness of eyebrows, eyelashes, beard hair, chest hair, and scar sites.

From single scalp hair to the recently developed plug technique, hair transplant methods have evolved and are a good treatment to opt for.

One important thing to remember is that hair transplants are effective treatment options but are not permanent. People may see hair loss in the future, and they may need follow-ups.

Does hair transplant work, and what to expect?

About 10 to 80 percent of the transplanted hair will grow back to its full thickness in a period of three to four months.

The success rate is less in people who have dormant hair follicles. Recent studies show that plasma hair therapy has a higher success rate. Researchers say that it has a success rate of almost 75 percent.

Transplanted hair starts thinning with time as natural hair does, and this is very normal.

Since hair transplants are done with your hair, they might not be effective, and in people who have:

  • Hair loss because of chemotherapy and certain drugs
  • Extensive baldness and thinning
  • Deep scars in the scalp due to some trauma or injury

What happens during your consultation for a hair transplant?

During your consultation, your doctor may look for:

  • The kind, severity, and pattern of hair loss.
  • Profuse hair at some areas of your scalp from where the hair can be taken for transplantation.
  • The body’s ability to grow hair in thinning areas.
  • The general health of the body.

Your doctor will conduct a thorough scalp examination. Some blood tests may also be performed to know the cause of hair loss and thinning. In some patients, a scalp biopsy may be needed.

On receiving your test results and after a thorough examination, your doctor will brief you on what to expect before, during, and after the surgery and have reality-based expectations and whether you are a good candidate for a hair transplant or not.

How much does a hair transplant cost?

The cost of hair transplants ranges from $4000 to $15,000 per session, depending upon the:

  • The time period of the procedure.
  • The surgeon’s choice of technique.
  • Surgeon’s experience and expertise.

The cost varies in different regions of the world.

How does hair transplant work?

Hair transplant works by taking your hair from an area with profuse hair and grafting them to an area with less or no hair. Usually, hair is taken from the backside of your head. However, hair can also be taken from the other hairy areas of your body, depending upon the availability.

Before starting the procedure, the target area from where the hair is taken is cleaned, sterilized, and anesthetized. Then your surgeon might opt for one of the two hair transplant methods: FUE or FUT.

Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)

This procedure involves the following steps:

  • Shaving hair from the back of your head.
  • Follicles will be removed from your scalp with the help of a scalpel by your operator, which leaves certain tiny marks that can be seen.
  • The operator makes fine holes at the target site where follicles are grafted.
  • The operated site is bandaged or gauzed.

Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)

This involves the following steps:

  • A piece of the scalp is removed from the back of your head or some other site with the help of a scalpel. A 6 to 10-inch scalp strip is taken.
  • The area from where the scalp was taken is stitched.
  • The strip is divided into as many as 2000 smaller strips known as grafts. Some grafts even have one hair only and are known as micro-grafts, and others may be macro-grafts.
  • Small holes are made into the scalp with a needle or blade where the hair is grafted.
  • The surgeon transplants hair from the removed site to the puncture site.
  • Then the surgical site is bandaged or gauzed.

The number of grafts you receive depends on:

  • The type of your hair
  • The area of the transplanted site
  • Quality of your hair and your hair color

Both procedures are quite effective, but in some cases, you may see different results.

A study says that FUE takes a longer time than FUT and requires more skillset. But with an experienced surgeon, FUE can achieve greater results.

Each procedure takes many hours, depending upon the number of grafts implanted. You can go home on the same day of treatment.

How do you recover after a hair transplant?

Both procedures may take a few hours to a few days to complete. This depends on different factors associated with the patient and surgeon.

After the procedure is completed, bandages are taken off, and your surgeon might inject triamcinolone to settle down the swelling, as the surgical area might be swelled.

You may feel pain and soreness at the surgical site and at the site from where the hair is taken. Depending on the symptoms, you may be prescribed :

  • Pain killers to avoid pain.
  • Antibiotics to prevent infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to settle down inflammation.
  • Medications to drive hair growth like minoxidil.

Are medicines are useful after a hair transplant?

Certain medications help get the best results and promote hair growth post-surgery and should be taken on a doctor’s prescription.

This is needed because even after the procedure, the hair thinning and loss may continue, and medicines help prevent and control that. Thus medicines make the hair transplant long-lasting and natural-looking.

How to care for your hair transplant after surgery?

Here are some post-surgery care tips that should be followed:

  • Do not wash your hair in the first few days post-surgery. Use mild shampoos to wash your hair in the initial phase after surgery or as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Don’t brush or comb your hair at the grafted site for about three weeks.
  • Don’t wear caps or hats or pullovers for a few weeks till advised by your doctor.
  • You should be able to perform your daily routine tasks in a few days after surgery.
  • Avoid steam baths for two months.
  • Avoid swimming pools for one month.
  • Avoid direct sunlight exposure at the surgery sites for two months.

What are the side effects of hair transplantation?

Scarring is the most common side effect and can not be avoided. Scarring can take place on the donor site as well as the recipient site.

FUT forms a linear and long scar. FUE can leave scars, too, but these scars may not be as big as FUT.

In rare cases, raised bumps can form on the surgical site. However, with the hair growth, it may hide.

Other side effects include:

  • infection
  • pus drainage
  • pain and swelling at the surgical site
  • itching at the surgical site
  • folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles)
  • hemorrhage (bleeding)
  • numbness around the surgical site
  • hair that doesn’t match the surrounding hair at the site

Minoxidil which may be prescribed to the patient post-surgery can have the following side effects:

  • irritation
  • dizziness
  • chest pain
  • headache
  • swelling of the hand and feet
  • irregular heart rate
  • sexual dysfunction

What are the results of a hair transplant?

Results are based on the surgeon you choose. Select a professional who knows the hair and hair growth process and perform hair transplantation regularly.

One important thing to know is that hair fall between the second and eighth-week post-surgery is very normal. It’s nothing to be scared of. The hair may look thinner during 3rd-month post-surgery, and again, this is nothing to be worried off. It’s part of the normal recovery phase.

What are some hair transplant myths? Debunked.

  1. Hair transplants don’t last forever. Over the decades, you’ll observe some hair loss and hair thinning at the transplanted site.
  2. To maintain the look after a hair transplant, you may need follow-ups and more than one session over the years.
  3. In most cases, hair transplants are successful. But it may not be successful in some cases depending upon the various patient and surgeon-related factors.
  4. Hair transplant surgical procedure takes place in a day, but the whole hair transplant procedure, including the surgical and recovery phase, may take a few days to few months.
  5. Hair plants are very safe. But there can be some complications like swelling or infections depending upon various factors.

How to find a surgeon?

  • Select only a licensed, certified surgeon.
  • Confirm a record of successful transplant procedures — ask to see a portfolio.
  • Read reviews about them.

Takeaway message and safety precautions

Hair transplantation and restoration is indeed an amazing advancement in aesthetic surgery. Ensure that you get the full knowledge regarding the hair transplant methods before going for it and find yourself a professional and experienced surgeon. A hair transplant is a very successful option to restore hair. It gives you natural-looking results and helps you in gaining your self-confidence.

Recent advances in technology have made hair replacement surgery a viable option for many people but we must utilize this technique prudently. It is very important to form a team because one individual cannot perform the entire procedure single-handedly. Fine-tuning and accuracy in all steps of the surgery are essential to get good results.

No compromise should be made with proper lighting in the operating room and with the quality of the instruments. A comfortable ambiance in the operating room and the use of audio-visual entertainment break the monotony, both for the patient and the surgical team.

It is important to remember that a patient is worse off after a poorly performed hair replacement surgery. If done judiciously, transplantation is a very rewarding procedure, both for the surgeon and the patient.

References

  1. Rassman WR, Bernstein RM, McClellan R, Jones R, et al. (2002). “Follicular Unit Extraction: Minimally invasive surgery for hair transplantation”. Dermatol Surg. 28 (8): 720–7. doi:1046/j.1524-4725.2002.01320.xPMID 12174065S2CID 33125094.
  2. ^Dua, Aman; Dua, Kapil (2010). “Follicular Unit Extraction Hair Transplant”. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. 3 (2): 76–81. doi:4103/0974-2077.69015 (inactive 2021-01-11). PMC 2956961PMID 21031064.
  3. ^Harris JA (Nov 2008). “Follicular unit extraction”. Facial Plast Surg. 24 (4): 404–13. doi:1055/s-0028-1102904PMID 19034817S2CID 902688.
  4. ^M, Rashid, Rashid; Morgan, Bicknell, Lindsay T (1 September 2012). “Follicular unit extraction hair transplant automation: Options in overcoming challenges of the latest technology in hair restoration with the goal of avoiding the line scar”. Dermatology Online Journal. 18 (9): 12. PMID 23031379.
  5. ^“Hair transplant robot gets FDA approval, men with straight brown hair rejoice”. Engadget. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
Amy Revene M.B.B.S. graduated from the University of Sharjah. She is currently working as a General Physician at New Hope Medical Center. Amy has a passion for research and offers her expertise and opinions helping people in their quest to lead healthy, happy lives.

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