1. What is a hair transplant?
Hair loss is common as you age, but it can also occur due to medical conditions or trauma to the scalp. People who have hair loss opt for hair transplants for reconstructive reasons. During the procedure, the surgeon removes follicles form the back of the head. The hair follicles are then implanted on the tiny sits on the scalp area that is affected by hair loss. There are mainly 2 kinds of surgery for hair transplant; FUT which is known as follicular unit transplant and FUE also known as follicular unit extraction.
What is a hair transplant?
A hair transplant is a procedure where some hair is moved from an area where it is plenty and filled in areas with no hair. The procedure is done in the doctor’s office. It is always done to add more hair to areas that experience thinning.
Types of hair transplants
There are two types of hair transplant. They are: micrografts and slit grafts.
The slit grafts have about 4 to 10 hairs per graft while the micrografts have 1 or 2 hairs per graft the number of grafts depends on the amount of coverage required.
The hair transplant is effective to restore hair growth caused by hair loss. The success rate depends on factors such as:
● The surgeon’s experience
● The thickness of the donor's hair
You are more likely to get a change in hair fullness from hair transplant surgery. Most of the people who go for the FUE technique get effective results.
Does it last?
You will get thicker-looking hair following a successful surgery. However, you may experience hair thinning after the surgery. The thinning gives the hair a patchy appearance. To get the best results, it is advisable to go for follow up sessions. To get the best results, you need to follow the surgeon's instructions. By doing so, you increase your chances of having a successful hair transplant. It is advisable to avoid strenuous exercises for weeks.
2. Who is a good candidate for the surgery?
It is not everyone who can have hair restoration surgery done. However, the right candidate will have significant improvement in their appearance. In as much as you may be tempted to rush to a hair transplant clinic, you should not.
Everybody has some donor hair that can be used in the thinning areas. The outcome may not be as per your expectations if the donor's hair is not used efficiently. When you have a significant amount of hair, you may get a shock loss of your existing hair due to the procedure.
At times, the hair loss does not return and you may end up having thinner hair than before. Thus, you must understand whether you are a good candidate for a hair transplant procedure or not. It is advisable to consider hair transplant only after trying other options without any luck.
There are some questions you need to ask yourself before you consider going for a hair transplant. These include:
● Do I have a healthy area of donor's hair?
● What is my level of baldness?
● Do I have a clear understanding of what to expect from a hair transplant?
● I have done research and thought about hair transplants form all directions?
● I have tried all other options?
● Do I know the advantages and disadvantages of having a hair transplant procedure?
● Do I know of the consequences of having hair transplants such as financial costs?
Suitable candidates for hair restoration surgery are:
● Men with realistic expectations and who clearly understand that they may continue to lose hair even after the surgery. Some men are required to continue with the medications to help retain their hair.
● Men whose hair loss is attributed to male pattern baldness for over five years.
● Men who have experienced balding for several years and want to add hair to get that youthful look.
● Men and women whose hair loss is caused by burns or trauma.
● Men and women who lost their hair due to cosmetic procedures.
3. How does hair transplant work?
The first thing that is done is cleaning the scalp. One the scalp is all cleaned up, the surgeon uses a small size of needle to make the area numb. The procedure is done with local anaesthesia. Once the area has been numbed, the surgeon harvests hair the donor either by removing hair follicles or removing thin ellipse of the hair-bearing scalp.
There are two main techniques used in the hair transplant surgery; follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE)
In this hair transplant procedure, there is the donor's hair is not trimmed. The procedure leaves a thin scar that is tucked in the permanent hair to avoid it being seen after the procedure.
The surgeon uses a scalpel and cuts a thin strip of scalp from back of the head. The strip is always about 6 to 10 inches long and stretches from ear to ear. The incision made is usually various inches long. Then surgeon closes the incision with a few stitches.
The next thing is to separate the removed scalp into sections with the help of a magnifying lens and a surgical knife. The sections assist you get natural-looking hair. The surgeon inserts hair into the punched holes. The number of grafts you get depends on:
● Hair color
● Size of transplant site
● Quality of hair
● Type of hair
In this hair transplant procedure, the hair in the donor area has to be trimmed. However, most of the hair is left intact.
In FUE, the surgeon cuts the follicles directly from the back of the head. He does this through tiny punch incisions. The surgeon uses tiny holes with a needle on the areas of the scalp where the hair transplant is done.
Hairs are then placed on these holes. The one treatment session requires the surgeon to transplant thousands of hairs. Once the procedure is complete, the gauze, graft, and bandages are used to cover the scalp for a few days.
The hair transplant procedure can take more than fours. The stitches are usually removed 10 days after the treatment. For effective results, you will need up to about three of four sessions. However, the sessions take place months apart to give each transplant the time to heal completely.
Both techniques are effective but they have different results. You will get the best results from FUE if it is done with an experienced surgeon. Most surgeons take to use the back of the head as their donor areas. However, the chest and chin, and back can also be effective. If you do not have hair on the back of your head, then body hair will be helpful. Both techniques are done under local anaesthetic.
4. How much does a hair transplant cost?
Even though hair transplant is an effective way to increase your hair’s thickness, it may be very costly. AT times, you have to pay extra to get the best results. The cost for the hair transplant varies depending on numerous factors. Generally, it costs between $4,000 and $15,000 per session.
Some factors that affect the cost include:
● Amount of hair to be removed: it will cost more to if you want to increase hair to the whole scalp. The cost will be less when you do the procedure in small areas.
● Type of hair transplant procedure: The cost will depend on whether you choose a follicular unit transplant or follicular unit extraction.
● The surgeon: a more experienced surgeon will charge more for the treatment. Even though the higher cost is not a guarantee for better results. Make sure you research the surgeon.
● Location: surgery costs will be higher in areas with a high cost of living. The price is also affected by competition. It means that areas with few surgeons, the transplant will be expensive.
● Travel cost: travelling to the clinic adds on to the total cost you will use on the transplant.
Some clinics provide payment plans to help spread the cost in several instalments. A hair transplant is considered to be a cosmetic procedure and so is not covered with insurance companies. The aftercare mediation also adds to the total cost of the treatment. The recovery costs include:
● Pain medication
There is also a treatment for complications after the surgery like an infection. Such treatment involves spending money on additional medications and doctor visits.
FUT and FUE procedures take hours or even days to complete. You will go home on the same day after the procedure. The surgeon will advise you on the recovery time. The recovery time depends on the area of the transplant and the type of hair transplant. Your scalp will be sensitive after the surgery. The FUE has a faster recovery time. If stitches were used, they will be removed within 10 days.
Upon a successful surgery, the surgeon removes the bandages. You may experience some swelling on the area and you may be injected with triamcinolone to keep it down. You will feel some pain in the transplant area and the area the hair was extracted. The surgeon will prescribe some antibiotics to prevent infections, pain medications, and minoxidil for stimulating hair growth.
There are some aftercare tips you should follow to have a fast recovery.
Wait for a few days after the hair transplant surgery before washing your hair. It is also advisable to stick to mid shampoos for a few weeks.
● You should resume normal activities in about three days.
● Do not press a comb down over new grafts for about three weeks
● Do not wear hats or any pullover attire until your surgeon gives you the go-ahead
● Do not exercise for one week
You should not be worried when you notice some hair falling out because it is part of the process. The transplanted hair may not match the surrounding hairs for some months. Expect to see some new hair growth from 8 to 12 months after the surgery.
6. Side effects
The hair transplants are safe when you go to a qualified surgeon. However, there are still some side effects even when the hair transplant is successful.
The hair transplant procedure requires making incisions on the skin. The incision is vital to remove the donor follicles. A tiny incision is also made on the areas where the hair follicles are placed. With these incisions, you risk getting infections.
There is a risk of scarring in the area of transplant and the donor area. Scarring cannot be avoided in any procedure. You need to talk to your surgeon on such risks before you go with the procedure.
The FUT method leaves a linear scar on the area where the scalp strip has been removed. The scar can be camouflaged when with the growth of new hair. However, it can become visible when you wear a short hairstyle or the surrounding hair is too thin.
The FUE method also leaves scars on the area where the hair follicles have been removed. However, they are not as large as those left with the FUT method. You may even have some bumps around the transplanted hair.
Pain and swelling
You may also experience some pain and swelling as the skin heals. Your surgeon will provide pain relievers for this. You can also have swelling on the face and head.
Other side effects include:
● Pus drainage around surgical sites
● Losing sensations around surgical sites
● Bruising around the eyes
● Shock loss
The minoxidil medications also has some side effects which are:
● Chest pain
● Irritated scalp
● Irregular heart rate
The side effects clear up within a few weeks.
You need to talk to your doctor before you go for hair transplant surgery. You need to know that scarring is a risk you will encounter. You may also not qualify for the procedure depending on your hair volume. The doctor will help you choose the appropriate technique to reduce the side effects.