Hair loss can be the result of multiple factors, primarily caused by a combination of aging, hormonal changes, and genetics. There is more than one technique that can be used to improve your appearance, which will be selected based on the extent of your hair loss.
During an initial consultation with one of our expert hair transplantation surgeons, your head and scalp will be assessed, and you will learn which hair transplant technique will meet your desired results. The goal of hair transplant surgery is to use your existing hair in an efficient manner so that your balding areas can be restored.
Whether male or female, in order to qualify as an ideal candidate for hair transplant surgery, you must have healthy hair growth at both the back and sides of the head. These will serve as donor areas (places on the head where grafts are taken). Some of the other factors that will be taken into consideration include hair color and texture, such as waviness or curliness. These may affect the overall aesthetic result.
Hair Transplant Techniques
Follicular Unit Transplantation
The “strip” or FUT (“follicular unit transplantation”) technique is a commonly performed method for harvesting donor grafts. This surgical procedure can effectively recreate a natural pattern of hair in the patient’s balding or thinning areas, producing an undetectable result. It is an excellent method for moving large amounts of grafts in a single transplantation session in those individuals who have a significant amount of balding.
The strip method entails several steps. First, the hair at the back of the scalp is cut short within the donor area, but the surrounding hair is not trimmed. The precisely planned scalp section is then surgically excised, and the wound created by the incision is then closed with either stitches or surgical clips. The excised part of the scalp is divided into sections and placed under several magnifying lenses, during which time technicians will separate grafts into units of one to four hairs using sharp blades. During this time, one of our surgeons will create the hairline and recipient sites by making hundreds of tiny incisions matching the exact number of grafts to be transplanted. Soon thereafter, the grafts are placed into the sites using microforceps. The grafts are placed in precise positions; single hairs are placed in the front to recreate a natural-appearing hairline, and the remaining larger grafts are placed behind the hairline to provide greater density and thickness in the recipient area.
Most individual hair micrograft restorations, such as the strip method, are performed on an outpatient basis and involve the use of local anesthesia.
Follicular Unit Extraction
The follicular unit extraction (FUE) method is a second technique used to harvest individual hair follicles. Like FUT, follicular unit extraction can effectively recreate a natural pattern of hair in the patient’s balding or thinning areas. This procedure requires the entire back of the scalp and sometimes above the ears to be shaved to the skin surface. Each follicular unit is then removed with the help of a hand-held device that removes grafts with a uniform diameter of 1mm. Grafts are removed in a manner that allows the extraction sites to be completely hidden once the shaved hair over the back of the scalp regrows. During the procedure, one of our surgeons will create the hairline and recipient sites by making hundreds of tiny incisions matching the exact number of grafts to be transplanted. Soon thereafter, the grafts are placed into the sites using microforceps. The grafts are placed in precise positions; single hairs are placed in the front to recreate a natural-appearing hairline, and the remaining larger grafts are placed behind the hairline to provide greater density and thickness in the recipient area. This technique does not require stitches or surgical clips, however, less hair can be moved in a single session as compared to the strip method.
Most individual hair micrograft restorations, such as FUE, are performed on an outpatient basis and involve the use of local anesthesia.
Eyebrow Hair Transplantation
Similar to hair loss on the scalp, both men and women can benefit from the eyebrow hair transplant procedure. Eyebrow hair loss can develop from genetics as well as aging or trauma such as plucking, and transplantation is an excellent option for replacing and restoring missing eyebrow hairs. Typically, donor hair is taken from the back of the scalp. During this method, each individual hair follicle is transplanted one by one into the eyebrow area that is precisely designed by one of our surgeons. When designing your eyebrows, the surgeon will discuss your goals and uses your input to help achieve a brow that is individualized to you.
As with every hair transplantation procedure, one of our hand selected surgeons will utilize his years of experience and his artistic eye to ensure each individual hair follicle is situated in the proper orientation so that each hair lies as flat as possible against the bony brow and grows in the proper direction. It may take as many as 400 or more single hair grafts to fully replace one eyebrow.
The method of harvesting the donor hair is carried out with the patient under local anesthesia, using either the strip harvesting (FUT) or follicular unit extraction (FUE) method. Because the donor hair is taken from the scalp, the hair will take on the growth characteristics of scalp hair and require trimming about one to two times a week.
Facial Hair Transplantation
Men who wish to improve the thickness of their patchy or thin mustache and/or beards may benefit from hair transplantation to these areas. Donor hair is taken from the back of the scalp and meticulously placed in the beard and mustache region. The surgeon will personally designs the pattern and density of your facial hair and takes great care to ensure a natural appearance to your facial hair growth. When designing your new facial hair pattern, the surgeon will listen to your goals and help guide you through an individualized treatment plan.
The method of harvesting the donor hair is carried out with the patient under local anesthesia, using either the strip harvesting (FUT) or follicular unit extraction (FUE) method. Because the donor hair is taken from the scalp, the hair will take on the growth characteristics of scalp hair and require usual facial hair maintenance.
Potential Risks and Complications
When performed in the hands of a qualified specialist, complications are rare. However, every type of surgery has its own set of potential risks.
Just like any surgical procedure, there is always the risk of infection, and therefore, antibiotics are prescribed. Particularly with hair transplant surgery, excessive bleeding, a widened scar (“stretch-back” scars), and the chance that some of the grafts won’t “take” are possibilities. The surgeon will discuss this in detail during your individualized consultation. It is normal for the hair contained within the grafts to initially fall out before establishing regrowth in its new location over the following three to four months. Additional surgery may also be needed if your hair loss progresses after the initial procedure, resulting in an unnatural “patchy” look. Hair will camouflage any small bumps that may develop on the scalp at the transplant sites. Every individual is different, so physical reactions and healing abilities are unique and cannot be predicted.
If your hair loss was caused by burns or trauma, then hair transplant surgery is regarded as a reconstructive treatment and may be covered by health insurance. Should you desire this procedure for cosmetic reasons, the overall cost will be based on several factors, including:
- Price per hair graft
- Surgeon’s fee
- Operating room fees
- Anesthesia fees
- Medical tests
- Region or demographics
- Prescriptions for medication
- Post-surgical garments
It is common to experience some mild discomfort and tenderness over the scalp after hair transplantation surgery, which can be alleviated with prescribed medication if necessary. Any wigs or hairpieces should not be worn for at least the first two weeks after surgery. There are multiple factors that will affect how quickly you are able to go back to your regular routine, such as the length, complexity, and type of hair replacement surgery you underwent as well as the type of work you do. It may take several days before returning to work and resuming normal, light activities. If stitches or surgical clips are used, they are removed nine to 10 days after surgery.
Because it could take several weeks for the grafts to become firmly anchored to the scalp, you must be extra careful while grooming your hair. The hair can be rinsed gently with water on the first postoperative day. Gentle daily shampooing can usually begin three days after the procedure, and for the first few weeks, only a very mild, non-medicated shampoo should be used.
The Results of Hair Transplant Surgery
Hair transplant surgery offers a successful outcome, but it will take time to see the full results.
Within the first several weeks after surgery, many of the transplanted hairs will fall out — a process that normally follows this type of procedure. After the hair falls, it typically begins to regrow after three to four months have passed. You may anticipate about a half-inch of growth per month thereafter.
Depending on the degree of hair loss, in order to achieve optimal, natural-looking results, additional surgery be required. Healing between surgeries usually takes several months. During the consultation, one of our surgeons discuss the details of any potential follow-up procedures.
If you would like to schedule a consultation regarding your interest in hair transplant surgery, please feel free to contact The Diamond Face Institute. You can get started by calling (310) 859-9816 or filling out our contact form.