Most men won’t care so much if their hair begins to shed by the age of 50 or beyond.
But these days, an increasing number of young people are facing alopecia by the age of 30 or some even before. The occurrences of alopecia in women, too, have increased tremendously more than ever before.
Massive hair loss like Androgenetic Alopecia is no longer a big issue as you can still grow the new hair through hair replacement. Thanks to modern medical technology.
There are many men with male pattern baldness who are increasingly opting for hair transplantation as a viable solution to deal with alopecia.
Unlike men, it is very, very difficult for women to live with female pattern baldness, and a good number of them go for FUE Hair Transplant or the strip hair replacement as every woman loves her hair so dearly.
In this hair transplant review, let me discuss with you the basic facts and procedures of this hair treatment, and we shall also discuss hair transplant side effects, before and after results, and the approximate cost of doing it.
What Is Hair Transplantation?
Since the 1950s, hair transplants have been used in the US to plant hairs on the bald areas of the scalp. This was initially started as a treatment for Androgenetic Alopecia or male pattern baldness.
It is a surgical technique in which individual hair follicles or a narrow strip of hair-bearing scalp from the back of the head is extracted and transplanted to other areas of the scalp with thin or no hair.
This hair replacement surgery consists of minimum invasive procedures. On the patient’s scalp, the surgeon identifies the hair follicles genetically resistant to balding (usually the hair at the back of the head). Some of those hair follicles are then transplanted to the bald areas of the scalp.
There are two different transplantation methods commonly used:
1. Strip Harvesting
A strip of skin is grafted with almost all of the epidermis and dermis surrounding the hair follicle, and this skin strip is divided into several tiny grafts. They are then fixed onto the bald area.
2. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Many tiny grafts of hair follicles, with a cluster of 3 to 5 hair strands each, are extracted and transplanted onto the hairless area.
Hair Transplantation Procedures and Methods
The surgeon will do an initial consultation with the patient to finalize the exact hair transplantation procedures to meet the patient’s expectationspatient’s expectations.
It is highly advisable to have the follis-cop test done before transplantation to identify the existing density of hair follicles. This will help accurately deter the number of grafts required to be transplanted onto the bald area.
The surgeon may also prescribe hair growth medicines like minoxidil ointment for topical application and hair growth vitamins to be regularly consumed for many days before the transplantation begins.
The patient must also be in good health and should not be under severe medication for other diseases. Refraining from alcohol and smoking by the patient also contributes to the better success rate of the transplantation.
There are two donor hair harvesting methods commonly used.
Strip FUT Surgery
Strip harvesting is one of the most commonly used methods for removing hair and follicles from a donor site.
In this method, the donor’s hair is harvested by extracting a strip of scalp skin (2 to 4 inches long) with many healthy hair follicles and strands of hair. It involves a cut surgery beyond the hair follicles’ roots to extract the strip of skin with hundreds of hair follicles.
Usually, the strip of the scalp is extracted from the back of the head, where the hair follicles are normally unaffected by the androgenic alopecia.
The surgeon harvests a strip of skin from the posterior scalp, an area of good hair growth. A single, double, or triple-bladed scalpel removes hair-bearing tissue strips from the donor site.
It causes a patch of a deep cut on the behind part of the head, but it is neatly sewn up, and gradually, new hair will grow and cover up that area.
The surgeon would divide the extracted strip of the scalp into several (500 to 4000) tiny grafts containing a few hair follicles with 2 to 4 strands of hair on each graft. Of course, the surgeon will require the help of assistants to dissect individual follicular unit grafts into tiny naturally formed groupings of hair follicles.
Usually, these procedures are delicately done with the help of binocular stereo microscopes. They also carefully remove excess fibrous and fatty tissue from the grafts without causing the slightest damage to the follicular cells used for grafting.
These tiny grafts are then transplanted one by one into the tiny insertions created with the help of needles or scalpels on the bald area of the scalp. The hair transplant is done according to the predetermined pattern and density required.
It is a lengthy process that may require 4 to 8 hours of continuous surgical process.
The FUE Hair Transplant
Follicular Unit Extraction involves extracting healthy hair follicles directly from the posterior areas of the head and replanting those tiny follicular unit grafts onto the bald area of the scalp.
In contrast to the FUT strip extraction (2 to 4 inches long trip), in the FUE method, only tiny follicular units consisting of 1 to 4 hairs are individually removed and transplanted to hairless areas.
It uses minimum invasive incisions involving tiny punches of between 0.6mm and 1.0mm in diameter both for extraction and transplantation of the hair follicles.
Mainly, the surgeon uses micro blades or tiny needles to puncture the donor sites of extracting grafts, and again, tiny holes are made on bald areas to plant those individual grafts in predetermined density and pattern.
Typically, only local anesthesia is used in this transplantation method, and the effects of which can last up to 5 to 6 hours. Since it is a high-precision procedure, a high-powered microscope and specially designed instruments are used in FUE hair transplantation.
Most patients who undergo this method of hair replacement have no noticeable scarring on the scalp, as no deep incisions are required for it.
Depending on the area under hair follicle transplantation, FUE can be completed in one or multiple sessions.
Usually, the FUE method of transplantation gives the hair a much more natural look than the strip FUT method.
However, the FUE method has a few disadvantages. First, it is a very expensive and a few hours-long procedure.
The success rate of the FUE transplant is much lower than that of the FUT surgery method. The patient may require more than one transplant in most cases, and it can be challenging to find a sufficient number of healthy follicle strips for the second or third session.
In FUT, the patient is left with only one deep scar at the back of the head, which would get covered mainly by the hair, whereas in FUE, over 3000 round punch holes created on the scalp can leave scars all over the scalp. Especially when the hair begins to thin, all those hundreds of dotted scars will be externally visible.
Hair Transplant Before and After Results
Every patient is eager to see before and after results of hair transplants. However, the hope of good results can be destroyed if no gentle care is given to the scalp for a few months continuously after the transplantation.
The scalp skin would be very tender and sensitive during the initial days after the surgery. During this period, the scalp should not be exposed to scorching sunlight, humid weather conditions outdoors, or dust and dirt outside, and the use of harsh shampoo or conditioner is also to be avoided.
After the surgery, it is good to wear the surgical dressing over the scalp for a few days.
The patient must strictly follow all the medical precautions the surgeon gives and should take all the prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs without failure for the number of days as suggested. It is also good to consume hair growth vitamins for better results.
Usually, for three to five days, the patient can attend to the average home and office chores.
Usually, the transplanted hairs will fall off within two to four weeks after the surgery, and new hairs will begin to grow in their place from the hair follicles.
The patient can expect about 60% average hair growth six months after the hair transplantation.
It is also good to continue with good hair-growth drugs like minoxidil (Rogaine) to induce maximum hair growth after the transplantation. But any of those drugs must be used with the recommendation and observation of the surgeon.
Usually, the hair transplant results before and after are very satisfactory in most patients. However, a few would not get good results with hair transplanting transplants. These replaced hairs are only the old hair follicles from another part of your scalp, which are also equally susceptible to alopecia like the hairs lost earlier. There is no guarantee that the replacement will last long as they, too, can be affected by androgenetic alopecia or fungal infections.
Hair Transplant Side Effects
All is not well with hair transplants. The success rate of hair replacement is below 70% on average.
During the initial weeks after the transplantation, the patients might experience sudden hair thinning, known as “shock loss.” It is a temporary effect, and the new hair would grow soon instead of the fallen ones.
About 10% of patients would experience some post-operative hiccups. It is primarily due to the specific health conditions of the patient or the errors that occurred during the surgery and transplantation.
Another minor side effect of hair transplant commonly seen is scalp infections a few days after the surgery. A few days of mild bleeding are also noticed in some cases. The most common infection is folliculitis, which appears a few weeks after new hairs grow in place of old hair strands transplanted.
Some patients might develop swelling of the scalp areas of transplantation, and a strong itching sensation could also accompany this
Many reported cases of deep scarring and unnatural-looking new hair growth are seen as side effects of hair transplants.
To minimize the side effects of hair transplantation surgery, a person must take up this treatment only in total health conditions. The surgeon must also perform all the necessary diagnostic tests to ensure the treatment’s hazel-free completion, which will give maximum positive results.
Hair Transplant Cost
The cost of transplantation will depend on several factors. First of all, the country and locality from where you are doing this treatment will make some difference in the cost according to the local and services taxes, professional charges of the professionals involved, and the reputation of the clinic or hospital.
Secondly, the hair transplant cost is decided by the number of grafts, sessions, and the duration required for the surgery. Of course, the complex issues involve more effort and the use of advanced medical instruments; thus, the hair transplant price could increase further in such cases.
Usually, the hair transplantation cost in the US and the European Union will vary from $4,000 to $15,000.
These cosmetic treatments usually are not protected under insurance coverage or Medi-Claim health insurance policies.
Hair transplantation is a big blessing, especially to young people and women who suffer the most because of alopecia.
In recent times, there has been an increasing demand for hair replacement surgery all over the world as more alopecia patients are opting for this treatment.
There are varied methods of hair transplanting, especially concerning harvesting the hair follicles, which have advantages and disadvantages.
The technically correct extraction of the hair follicles and skillful transplantation of the grafts would ultimately determine the success of this treatment.
Significant details of techniques are to be followed in this treatment. For example, the hair follicles typically grow at a slight angle to the scalp surface. So, the transplanted hair follicles should also have a corresponding angle in both ‘donor’ and ‘recipient’ sites to ensure the natural growth and look of the transplanted hair.