Thanks to innovative surgical techniques, a hair transplant makes it possible to redistribute hair follicles from a donor area to a bald or thinning area. Today's technology uses microsurgery to give the hair the most natural appearance possible. The result of a hair transplant depends very much on the follicles to be grafted and the extent of the area to be thickened.
Hair loss is mainly caused by a combination of:
- hormonal changes
- family history of baldness
Hair transplant candidates
Hair transplant candidates must have healthy hair growth on the back and sides of the head as these represent the donor areas.
The donor areas are the areas of the head from which the strips of skin from the scalp or the individual follicles for hair grafts will be taken.
Certain factors can affect the aesthetic result, such as the colour of the hair or the type of hair, for example, if it is wavy. There are various techniques and sometimes two or more techniques are used together to achieve the best results. All hair transplant techniques use existing hair. The purpose of this surgery is precisely to "optimise" the use of the same patient's hair. in general, women have a type of hair loss that is widespread over their entire head, so they do not have, if not rarely, suitable donor areas.
Hair follicles are generally transplanted using one of these two techniques:
- Follicular unit translplantion (FUT): follicular units are removed from a strip of scalp taken from a donor area.
- Follicular unit extraction (FUE): individual follicular units are removed directly from the donor area, separately, follicle by follicle, and transplanted into areas where there is thinning.
The creation of recipient sites and the insertion of follicular unit grafts are essentially the same in both procedures. The difference between the two methods lies in the quantity and quality of the grafts obtained.
Preparation for hair transplant
The surgeon will give specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including:
- What to eat and drink
- Smoking. You should stop smoking at least a week or two before surgery.
- Precautions or discontinuation of certain vitamins and medications
If you follow the doctor's instructions carefully, the surgery will be much easier.
Hair transplant, recovery from surgery
How you will feel after surgery depends on the scope and complexity of the procedure. Any pain can be relieved with medically prescribed painkillers.
Any stitches will be removed after 1 week to 10 days.
There may be a possibility of swelling, bruising, and the possibility of having to drain the operated area.
It is recommended to avoid intense physical exercise and contact sports for at least 3 weeks.
Getting back to normal
Resuming your normal routine depends on the length, complexity and type of hair transplant surgery. You can return to work and resume normal activity after a few days. Some patients who have undergone a hair transplant are demoralised to see that immediately after the operation they are still losing their hair, but this loss is completely normal and is almost always temporary. It will take another 5 to 6 weeks for hair growth to resume its normal cycle.
Follow-up after the translplant
Surgery may be required for "touch-ups" to give the most natural appearance possible, but these operations will be after the healing of the scars left by the previous surgery. Only by following up the operation will it be possible to evaluate the results and determine whether other corrective procedures are necessary.
Hair transplants are normally safe if performed by an experienced doctor. However, each individual reacts differently, their physical reactions and ability to heal vary, and the result is never completely predictable.
As with any surgical procedure, the following can occur:
- Infections. Is there a risk of infection after a hair transplant? An infection with a hair transplant is rare. If it should occur it is usually treated with antibiotics, which can be prescribed by your doctor.
- Excessive bleeding
With transplant procedures, there is a risk that some of the grafts might not "take root". Although it is normal for hair to fall out before it resumes normal regrowth in the new location, sometimes the surgery must be repeated if the problem is not resolved within a certain time frame. When hair loss advances after surgery, you may have a "patchwork" look, which is completely unnatural and may require further surgery.
Contraindications to hair transplantation
There are certain conditions that could cause problems during or after surgery, such as
- blood clotting
- tendency to form scars
This information should all be given to the doctor who should then check if it is a problem that may affect or prevent hair transplantation altogether. You should also tell your doctor if you smoke or are taking drugs or medications, especially aspirin or other drugs that affect blood clotting.
Can you predict how much hair you need for a transplant?
It is impossible to predict, as the number of hairs needed depends on the structure and quality of the hair.
Does a hair transplant last forever?
Most patients keep their new hair for the rest of their lives. From time to time, a proportion of transplanted hair may be lost in old age.
A hair transplant may be a solution, but it must be done in full awareness of what is happening, otherwise you may want to opt for non-surgical solutions that can be just as satisfactory.