Hair Transplants Explained

hair transplants
hair transplants

Are you tired of watching your precious locks swirl down the shower drain each morning? Have you tried a medication that will supposedly stop the hair loss, but is yet to see results? Perhaps it is time to consider a hair transplant.

According to Wikipedia, hair transplantation is a surgical technique that involves moving individual hair follicles from one part of the body (the donor site) to a bald part (the recipient site).

It is not unheard of for individuals to use this elective procedure to fill in gaps of hair growth along scar lines caused by accidents or surgery. While somewhat rare, people do use hair transplantation to replace or increase the density of eyelashes, eyebrows, beard hair, and chest hair. It is far more common for hair transplants to occur on the scalp.

For patients who suffer from pattern baldness, hair transplantation is the only permanent cure for their hair loss. Medications may stop hair loss and initiate some hair re-growth; however, this is only a temporary solution.

Hair transplantations used to disguise bald spots on the scalp usually take donor hairs from the back and sides of the head where growth is more plentiful. There are two ways to dissect the donor’s hair.

Follicular Unit Extraction

Hairs naturally grow in groupings called follicular units. Each follicular unit contains one to four hairs. The most technologically advanced procedures transplant hairs in these natural groupings. This ensures the most satisfactory results that mimic natural hair growth.

The procedure

A follicular unit extraction (or FUE) removes individual units with a tiny punch that measures between 0.6mm and 1.25mm in diameter. After the unit is removed, it is inserted into the balding area.

The results

An FUE leaves tiny puncture scars that are nearly undetectable. The recovery period generally lasts for about seven days.

Strip Harvesting

While similar to the FUE, a strip harvest has one key feature that is very different.

The procedure

During this procedure, an entire strip of scalp is removed instead of individual follicular units. After the doctor sutures up the incision, he or she will dissect the follicular units from the strip of the scalp. Then, just like the FUE, the doctor will insert the units into the balding area.

The results

A patient who has undergone a strip harvest will always have a linear scar in the donor site. However, as long as the patient doesn’t choose to shave his or her hair, the scar shouldn’t be visible. Also, a patient will have to return to the doctor’s office about two weeks after the procedure to have the stitches removed.

A Word of Warning

If you are considering a hair transplant, you need to be aware of two very important things. First, you should only consider one of the above mentioned follicular unit transplantations (the FUE or strip harvest). There are some doctors who still perform outdated procedures that yield pluggy, unnatural results. Second, while hair transplantation is one of the safer elective procedures, it is surgery and certain precautions should be considered. Hair transplantation should be used as a last resort and only if other hair restoration options don’t produce satisfactory results.