Most people who notice there hair loss is becoming too obvious immediately start thinking about serious treatment methods such as hair transplant surgery. The success of this surgical procedure depends on the skill, experience, and artistry of the surgeon as well as the technology used.
The most common cause of balding among hair loss sufferers is androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. Hair transplantation has been proven to be very effective for treating this type of hair loss, which is often due to genetics.
The basic idea of hair transplant is to redistribute areas where hair is on the head (usually the back and sides of the head, also known as donor sites) to areas where there is balding (recipient sites).
One way that a surgeon will redistribute existing hair to balding areas is by using a technique known as flapping. Flapping involves directly moving one area of the scalp to another.
It will take a couple of sessions to achieve hair growth in balding areas. The first session will make the flap and the next session will relocate it to areas that are balding. How big the flap created is will depend on the goals or needs of the patient.
In the past few years surgeons have improved their flap techniques to help cover more of the crown, better frontal coverage, and provide a better natural hairline.The good thing about using this procedure is the fact that you won’t have to wait to see results. Even though the results are instant, this procedure carries a lot of potential risks:
- The flap could end up dying in the new location (recipient site) due to a lack of blood supply.
- Scarring on the recipient site is usually experienced.
- If more than one flap was used during the procedure they normally aren’t positioned equally.
- The hairline is often unbalanced after the procedure.
- The flap procedure is permanent so whether you’re happy with the results or not you’ll have to live with it.
Scalp reduction surgery involves removing the bald spot areas and lifting the scalp off the head, and then pulling the scalp together from the sides that have hair to meet in the middle. Sometimes it will take 5 or more sessions to remove all the bald area and reduce the appearance of scars.
Some people who undergo this surgery will need another procedure done just to hide the scar and help the crown look normal. You can expect to fork out up to $3,500 for this procedure, which can be performed within a half hour. Once a popular cosmetic surgery procedure, scalp reduction is often avoided due to complications that often arise.
Micrograft surgery involves removing thin strips from the donor area instead of big sections of hair. The result is a more natural result without huge scars being left behind. The 2 micrograft surgeries you should know about are Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).
In its natural state hair is composed of hair groupings of follicular units that have between 1 to 4 hairs close together. Follicular unit transplantation is a technique that involves transplanting your hair in naturally occurring groups of 1 to 4 hairs known as follicular units from the donor sites to the recipient sites. In follicular unit extraction the surgeon will extract follicular units one by one from the donor site.
Before undergoing either of these hair restoration techniques you should talk things over with the surgeon. The 2 things you should discuss with the surgeon are the size of the grafts used and the distribution of the grafts. There are surgeons out there that will transplant small grafts only, and others will use small grafts to help cover up the larger grafts they use during the procedure.
Small grafts are favored in hair transplantation over larger hair grafts due to the following reasons:
- Small grafts are not as visible as large hair grafts.
- Small grafts look more natural and don’t look pluggy when positioned in a frontal hairline.
- Small hair grafts don’t look like patchy clumps of hair when positioned behind the hairline or in the crown.
Small hair grafts has its own disadvantages too. For one, small hair grafts will require more time and work than large grafts. Also, a thinner appearance is created with smaller grafts, which will require much more grafts in order to create a natural look.
Hair Transplant Surgery – Are You A Candidate?
Just because you start noticing some of your hair falling out doesn’t mean you need hair transplantation. If you’re just starting to lose some hair you don’t know how far or how fast your hair loss will progress.
Males suffering from years of male pattern baldness are normally the best candidates for hair transplant surgery. You have to give the transplant surgery some serious thought, research your options, and find a surgeon that you can trust.
This is why the best candidate for this procedure would have educated themselves about the type of hair loss their suffering from. With that being said, hair loss in its beginning stage is best treated with medications.
When considering hair transplantation some of the questions you should ask yourself include:
- Is my hair loss really affecting me that badly?
- Am I willing to make the financial commitment required for multiple surgeries?
- Are there other options that I haven’t looked into yet?
You should never rush into getting this surgery done. Try to learn as much as you can about the hair transplantation you’re considering before you make the decision to go forward with the procedure.
The best advice we give our subscribers is to have more than a few consultations from leading experts in the field. It’s also not a bad idea to get the loved ones in your life involved in the decision making process.
You Might Be A Good Candidate If:
- You have male pattern baldness.
- You understand the process thoroughly.
- Your expectations are realistic.
- You’ve got sufficient donor hair to supply balding areas.
- You have a flexible scalp.
You May Not Be A Good Candidate If:
- You’re A woman
- You’re a male suffering from diffuse unpatterned alopecia disorder (DUPA).
- You have low hair densities.
- You have a light scalp.
- Your finances won’t allow you to keep getting hair transplantation over a long period of time.
- You don’t have enough hair good, healthy donor hair to cover a large balding area. However, in some cases if the surgeon is good enough the illusion of fullness can be accomplished even without enough hair follicles to supply balding areas.
Other Things to Consider
After you get a hair transplant done doesn’t mean you won’t have to go back to get more procedures done. With that being said, your surgeon should inform you about what could happen later on down the road.
Most surgeons will have both a short term and long term plan for patients they perform on. For example, a surgeon may prescribe a medication such as Propecia to help slow down or stop future hair loss. Another thing the surgeon may do to prepare for future hair loss after the initial procedure is leave enough donor hair to replace any hair that falls out later on.
Since hair transplant surgery is considered a cosmetic procedure most insurances don’t cover its costs. It will mostly depend on the amount of area you want to cover and the amount your surgeon charges you, but hair transplant surgeries can be pretty expensive. Most surgeons that perform the procedure will usually charge you anywhere between $3 to $20 for each graft (one graft is 1 to 4 hair follicular units).
It’s important to keep in mind that the results achieved from a hair transplant are permanent, and this includes any errors that may occur. With that being said, going to the cheap route isn’t always the best idea.
A surgeon that doesn’t cost much could end up costing you more if the procedure is done improperly. Improperly performed procedures could leave you with a botched job that can’t be repaired, or will require you to get more surgery done later on.
Choosing The Right Doctor
Finding the right hair transplant surgeon is the most important factor when it comes to achieving a successful procedure. You have to make sure you feel comfortable with whatever doctor you’re considering.
A great place to start is to talk with people you know who have had successful hair transplantation done. The next best place to start looking is online. One site we often recommend is The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, which profiles many different hair transplant surgeons around the world.
You should always meet with more than one doctor before you make a solid decision. Also, checking out each doctor’s individual website is a good idea as it will allow you to get a sense of how good the doctor is with his patients.
The Initial Meeting
When you first meet with a doctor you should be provided with fundamental information regarding the procedure such as what you should expect, how much everything would cost, etc.
You will also be required to fill out a form to inform the doctor of your medical history. This ill help the doctor determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. Other things the surgeon will do during the initial meeting includes:
- Talk about your alternatives.
- Determine if your expectations of the procedure are realistic.
- Inform you about how many surgeries it will require to achieve the results you want.
- Perform a physical evaluation.
Some facilities will delegate the task of asking these questions to nurses, but nothing is better than talking things over with the actual doctor. You should also have questions of your own to ask the doctor or his team.
What Questions Should You Ask?
- How much experience does the doctor have in the hair transplant field?
- What does the doctor feel needs to be done in order to achieve the goals you desire?
- Does the doctor have detailed documents that completely outline the procedure that was proposed?
- Does the doctor have an estimate that reflects the long term process of the procedure and its fees?
- How many more surgeries need to be performed after the initial procedure?
- Does the doctor provide you with references from current and past patients? It’s always a good idea to speak and see someone who has had a similar procedure done by the same doctor?
- Is the medical legal record of the doctor clean? Tip: visit www.fsmb.org/directory_smb.html to check out the doctor or medical group you’re interested in.
What To Expect During & After Surgery
- Before the surgical procedure begins you’ll be given legal documents to sign.
- The surgeon will give you a sedative to help manage any anxiety you may feel.
- Local anesthetics will be injected to numb your scalp. You shouldn’t feel any pain during the procedure.
- Even though you’ll be sedated you’ll most likely be awake during the procedure, as general anesthesia that completely knocks you out is used rarely.
- The surgeon will either require you to be seated during the procedure or ask you to lay flat.
- During the procedure you’ll be able to interact with the doctor, listen to music, watch a movie, eat food, or sleep.
- The amount of time a hair transplant surgery may last is anywhere between 4 to 7 hours.
- The amount of pain after the surgery you experience will depend on the type of surgery you had done.
- If you had strip harvesting done you may experience some pain around the area where the donor strip was taken (after the anesthesia wears off).
- There is a chance you’ll experience some bleeding after the surgery.
- The day after the surgery the doctor will normally perform the first hair wash to remove blood and scabs.
- There is often not a lot of pain experienced after FUE surgery.
As with any surgical procedure there are certain risks associated with hair transplantation. Some of these risks include:
- Bad reaction to the anesthesia administered.
- Temporary redness, crusting, discoloration, bruising, or swelling on the donor or recipient areas.
- Hematoma (blood clotting)
- Folliculitis (infection in the hair follicles)
- Injured sensory nerve, which can lead to permanent numbness or pain in the scalp.
- Post operative hair loss or shock hair loss after hair transplantation. Doctors usually prescribe finasteride to help prevent this.
- Sun damage after the hair transplantation is done. The rays of the sun can sabotage the healing process.
Some people may feel they need to get another surgical hair transplant done after the initial one. We advise waiting until most of the transplants have had time to grow out, which could take at least 8 months. Seeing the full results of your hair transplant is vital before you decide to have another one.