Medicine has changed dramatically over the past decade in the treatment of hair loss in both men and women. Many men believe that hair transplantation today is no different than it was decades ago, when it left men with obvious plugs of hair and a completely unnatural look. Actually, surgeons today use a dissecting microscope to create very tiny hair grafts that retain the natural characteristics of hair growth.
The Hair Transplant Procedure
The hair transplant procedure may seem like a straightforward procedure, but it requires a great deal of skill on the part of the surgeon. The scalp must first be cleaned and then injected with an anesthetic. A 3-4 inch strip of scalp is then removed and the incision is closed and hidden with surrounding hair.
Next, this strip of scalp is divided into up to 2,000 very small grafts, each containing a single hair or a few strands of hair. The number and type of graft the surgeon uses depends on several factors, including the color, quality and type of hair of the patient and the size of the area where the hair where be transplanted.
Common Complications of Hair Transplantation
As with any other surgical procedure, there are risks of hair transplantation, including infection, bleeding and scarring. Some patients experience infection or inflammation of the hair follicles, or folliculitis, which can be treated with antibiotics.
Some patients also experience something known as shock loss, or the sudden loss of the transplanted hair. This shock loss is almost never permanent, however. Shock loss, or fallout, most often occurs after a large session of hair grafts and it is caused by changes in circulation, which temporarily diminishes blood supply. Hair grafts take three months on average before new growth appears, and it may take up to nine months.
Scars are another concern. While the surgeon should make attempts to minimize any scarring, there is no way to completely avoid scars. A white linear scar is expected after healing of the donor area. While the degree of scarring is not completely controllable, the surgeon does have some control. The surgeon should locate a donor site in an appropriate area that is not too high or too low, and the incision should be closed by bringing the two edges together with minimal tension. When you consult with your doctor about hair transplantation, discuss his technique for minimizing scarring.
The greatest fear of most patients is a doll’s hair look. Before follicular unit transplant techniques, hair grafts were performed with much larger grafts, often referred to as plugs. This technique usually resulted in a doll’s hair look because the grafts were compressed into small holes and stood out. This technique has since been abandoned by most surgeons, but it is important to thoroughly investigate any hair transplant surgeon you are considering to make sure they are using modern techniques that will result in a natural look.