Millions of men and women in the world experience hair loss every year, especially as they get older. Hair loss can be caused by multiple factors. However, hereditary alopecia which is called Androgenic Alopecia, is the most common cause of hair loss. Thinning and balding hair may cause some people to lose confidence. In that case, surgical hair restoration, known as a hair transplant, is the most effective way of treatment. Hair transplantation is a surgery, that moves hair follicles from a part of the head that is resistant to hair loss (typically the back and sides of the head), to a bald or balding part of the head that is known as the Recipient Area. Hairs that are present on the back and the sides of the head (Donor Area) are permanent hairs in most cases. Those permanent hairs can be used to cover the areas of the head where the hair has thinned or that have become bald.
Hair Transplantation Surgery
The most commonly used method in hair transplantation today is the FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) technique. Follicular units are the natural groups of hair, as they exit the scalp and one follicular unit may contain from one to five strands of hair.
In the FUE technique, a device called a micromotor is used. This device has a circular blade, which is between 0.8 to 1 mm in diameter, and is used to harvest hair follicles from the donor area one by one. FUE extractions are typically performed at the back and sides of the head, but rarely chest, back and beard hair can be taken from patients who have fewer scalp donor hair.
At the beginning of surgery, markings of donor and recipient areas are done.These markings are shown to the patients in the mirror. After patients see and agree to the planned hairline, and the areas to be filled in, surgery starts.
First, the donor and recipient’s areas on their head are shaved, and then the donor’s area is anesthetized with local anesthesia.
Hair follicles are taken one by one with great care.
Then, the recipient’s area, which is generally the frontal part of head, is anesthetized.
Channels (small incisions made on the head to implant hair) are opened in the balding area (recipient area).
The follicles which were taken at the beginning of operation, are implanted at the desired angle.
The places where the roots are removed heal spontaneously and there is no incision scar on the donor area.
The FUE method, which was applied for the first time in the world in 2004, has become more preferred by patients because it allows faster recovery and does not leave a scar on the scalp.
Who is the ideal Candidate for Hair Transplantation?
Ideal candidates for hair transplantation are men and women who are in good health and have completed active hair shedding.
Although, there is no strict cut-off age for hair transplantation, it could be better to postpone surgery untill active hair shedding is complete.
What should be Considered Before Hair Transplantation?
Very little preparation is required for hair transplant patients.
Regularly used medication and past medical history should be reported to the doctor. Blood thinners, like Aspirin, should not be taken one week before Hair Transplantation Surgery.
Alcohol should not be consumed the night before hair transplantation. Smoking should be quitted for at least 2- 3 weeks before and after hair transplantation surgery for optimal results.
On the day of the procedure, patients should eat a light breakfast before coming to the hospital. It is recommended that patients wear a button-up shirt on the day of surgery, in order to make it easier for removal and wear.
What should be Considered after Hair Transplantation?
It is recommended that patients do not drive a vehicle after the operation, as sedative medications are given for transplantation surgery. Each patient heals differently, but it can approximately take 7-10 days.
Medications which are prescribed by the doctor should be used for one week after surgery.
It is recommended to sleep head elevated for the first week after hair transplantation in order to decrease postoperative swelling. It could also be comfortable to use travel pillows in the first days following surgery.
Hair can be washed from the third day following surgery as described in detail by your doctor.
Special shampoos and lotions will be given to patients to wash their hair, which is used for approximately 10 days.
In this period, red scabs which occurred as a result of hair transplantation are shed.
Once the scabs are healed, patients are allowed to use their own shampoo.
Three to four weeks after surgery, the transplanted hair falls out. Regrowth of transplanted hair begins on the post-operative fifth to sixth month. Final results are seen one year after surgery.
Risks & Side Effects Associated with Hair Transplants
Although Hair Transplantation Surgery is a very safe procedure, like any other surgical procedure, it carries some risks. Hair transplantation is associated with the following risks and side effects:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Graft death
- Patchy hair
- Poor aesthetic outcome
If the Hair Transplantation is performed under proper surgical facilities with a correct technique and if the patient follows pre and postoperative instructions well, these associated risks will be significantly lower.