Hair loss, or androgenic alopecia, is a problem that afflicts a considerable portion of the population. Research shows that nearly 60% of men and 50% of women experience some hair loss in their life, especially after they hit the age of forty. Those who experience hair loss can find reprieve in a hair transplant procedure. Here is all you need to know about the transplanting process, and whether or not it will be beneficial to you.
What is a Hair Transplant?
Two different procedures are used for hair transplants. The first is known as Follicular Unit Strip Surgery or FUSS. Here, the surgeon first cleans your scalp meticulously and then numbs it using local anesthesia. Then they cut a few inches of the scalp at the back of your head, which typically has a lot of hair. The length of the cut piece can range anywhere between 6-10 inches. They then immediately sew the scalp to close it. The cut area is covered by the hair surrounding it.
The second part of the procedure involves the actual transplanting. The surgeon carefully separates the cut scalp into about 500 to 2000 grafts. They will then make incisions in the area of your head that is affected by hair loss and implant the hair follicles.
The second procedure is known as Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE. It differs from FUSS in that hair follicles are extracted directly from the scalp instead of cutting a strip of the scalp. This is done by first shaving the back of the head to expose the scalp. The surgeon then starts removing the follicles one at a time. These are then transplanted to the desired area using the same technique as the FUSS method.
Hair Transplant Recovery Process
Immediately after your hair transplant procedure, you may experience some pain and inflammation. This can be taken care of by using some pain and anti-inflammation medicine. You may also have to wear a bandage around your head for a day or two to speed up the scalp-healing process. The surgeon may also give you some antibiotics to help ward off bacterial infections.
The hair transplant process is usually done in a day. You should, however, take a few days off work to allow your scalp to recover. The pain and soreness may subside significantly within two days, but you may need up to five days to recover fully.
You may notice the transplanted hair falling off after two to three weeks. This is normal and is ordinarily not a cause for alarm. The hair falls to pave the way for new hair to grow. The new hair should grow in about 8-12 weeks. Your doctor may recommend that you use Minoxidil, a drug that promotes hair growth, to stimulate faster growth of your hair.
The Side Effects of a Hair Transplant
Some scarring on the scalp is to be expected after a hair transplant. It is, after all, a surgical procedure like any other. Some rarer side effects associated with this process include:
- Bacterial infections, which can be easily treated with antibiotics
- Itching and swelling of the scalp
- Irritation in your hair follicles
- Dotting on donor sites, especially with an FUE procedure
- Crust formation in the region around the transplant site
- Continued loss of hair if balding is still persistent
Who Should Get a Hair Transplant?
Hair loss is caused by a wide array of factors. The most common cause of androgenic alopecia, or baldness, is genetics. Other factors that can contribute to hair loss or thinning include hormonal imbalance, high-stress levels, poor diet, medications, and medical procedures like chemotherapy.
Jeffrey S. Epstein, an expert on hair and beard transplants in Miami, states that this procedure is effective in reversing the effects of hair loss but is not an ideal treatment option for everyone. The procedure is excellent for women with thinning hair, men with baldness, and those who have lost hair due to burns and other injuries.
However, it may be counterproductive for those whose hair loss is caused by chemotherapy treatment or those who easily form keloid scars after injuries. The procedure is also not ideal for those who have widespread hair loss since it might be hard to find donor sites.
What Should You Expect After a Hair Transplant?
Ideally, you should expect to see growth in the transplanted areas within 8-12 weeks. It is essential, however, that you discuss your expectations with your doctor to make sure that they are realistic. The success of this procedure is hinged on a few factors, namely:
- The quality of hair used for the transplant
- The density of hair follicles that are transplanted
- The laxity of your scalp
- Whether or not you use medication like Minoxidil
Hair loss can detract a lot from a person’s appearance. Fortunately, it is a treatable condition thanks to hair transplant procedures. Hair transplants are effective in restoring hair to areas of your scalp that have experienced a tremendous loss of hair.
The transplant procedure is not complicated, and can typically be completed within a day. You may need to take a few days off work to allow your scalp to heal, but the side effects of the procedure will generally subside within two to three days. Your surgeon may also put you on medication to lower the probability of severe side effects occurring in the first place.
Overall, hair transplants can go a long way in improving your hair growth. If you are unsure about whether or not to undergo the procedure, it is best to consult a doctor first. They will help you make the best decision depending on your unique circumstances.