Hair Transplant (Hair Restoration)
If you are fortunate enough to have a full head of hair in your 50s, chances are you'll keep it for life. However, for many men, hair loss will be inevitable. Roughly 80 percent of men will experience some amount of balding, with a noticeable change in appearance. Many men (and women) become increasingly self-conscious as their hair begins to become progressively thinner and eventually dies altogether.
Most often, hair loss is not caused by an illness but is simply a genetic trait. It begins most often in middle age, but can start as early as in the teens. It can also skip generations. And it is not necessarily passed on from the mother's side of the family, as a widely circulated myth claims. Scientists aren't really certain how this genetic trait is passed on.
There are several available treatments for restoring a natural looking head of hair. The most common is the hair transplant. In a hair transplant, the doctor removes hair follicles from a different part of the body and grafts them onto the area of balding or thinning. Micrografts (grafts of two to three hairs) and minigrafts (grafts of four or more hairs) are frequently placed just behind the hairline to build up hair density.
If you are considering a hair transplant, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information about how this procedure may help you, we recommend that you consult a facial surgeon who is board certified or has completed a residency program that includes instruction in this procedure.
* Hair Restoration Surgery encompasses numerous procedures and terms, but the most common is baldness.
* By age of 50, about 50% of American men and a substancial number of women are affected by hair loss, much of which is hereditary.
Hair Transplant also know as Hair Restoration is a nonsurgical procedure.
- What are some of the most common benefits of this procedure?
- How is a hair transplant performed?
- How long does the procedure take?
- Where will the procedure be performed?
- How much pain is there?
- What can I expect after the procedure?
- What is the recovery period like?
- What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
- Ideal candidate
- Risks and Limitations
- Choosing a doctor
What are some of the most common benefits of hair transplantation?
Hair transplants can provide a new, natural-looking head of hair. While hair transplants do not actually add any hair to the head, they can provide the appearance of more hair.
How is a hair transplant performed?
- Strips or patches of hair are taken from the back of the head. Hair from this area is less likely to thin, regardless of where it is transplanted. Hair removal from this area is also virtually undetectable. As much as half of the hair in this area can be taken without producing a noticeable difference.
- The removed patches, or strips, are cut into smaller pieces, which are then "planted" in the balding area. This transplanted hair continues to grow just as it did before. It will not thin or die unless hair in the region of the head from which it was taken also thins or dies.
- There are two common methods used for removing hair to be transplanted. Hair can be removed in small circular areas (plugs), each containing between eight and 12 hairs. Or, hair may also be removed in long strips along the sides or near the bottom of the hairline. The advantage of the second method is that it provides the physician with more hair to cut and mold into different-sized plugs and/or grafts. Thousands of grafts can be created from one strip of hair, each containing as few as one to two hairs.
- Next, incisions slightly smaller than the plugs are made in the balding area. For grafts, even smaller incisions are made with a tiny scalpel, or even a needle. Your doctor may use a laser to make these tiny cuts. (Despite marketing claims, a laser in this situation has no special advantage over other incisioning tools.) The plugs/grafts are carefully spaced in order to allow adequate blood supply and produce a natural angle, growth direction, and appearance.
- Sutures are applied to close the area where the grafts or plugs were taken from. The skin will naturally stretch to cover a wider area. No sutures are required in the area where the plugs and grafts have been placed. The body's natural fluids will bond the plugs and grafts to the head.
How long does the procedure take?
Most doctors perform more than one session of transplanting to achieve the best results. Each transplanting session takes between two and four hours, depending on the extent of the treatment.
Where will the procedure be performed?
A hair transplant can be done in an outpatient surgery center or in an office surgical suite. Most hair transplants are performed under local anesthesia (like that used by dentists) combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You'll be awake but relaxed, and although you may feel some tugging and mild discomfort, you won't feel any pain.
How much pain is there?
The amount of pain depends on the extent of the procedure, and varies from person to person. Immediately following the procedure, there may be some mild discomfort that can be alleviated with oral pain medication. You should discuss your goals, budget, and pain tolerance with your doctor in order to help him/her determine the procedure, or combination of procedures, that will produce the best results for you.
What can I expect after the procedure?
During the first two or three days following the procedure, there may be some discomfort in both the area that hair was taken from as well as the area of the transplant. Mild headache, swelling, and bruising around the eyes are common.
Bandages are usually applied after the procedure and should be left in place overnight. The sutures are removed about 10 days after the operation. It is common for medical staff to shampoo the hair the first time after the procedure, and your doctor will give you instructions regarding hair grooming during your recovery. Some scabbing usually occurs in both areas, and should disappear within about eight to 10 days Some numbness may also occur, and may last for up to two to three months.
There is a small risk of the plugs/grafts coming out, so you should avoid vigorous or strenuous exercise until scabs have completely healed.
What is the recovery period like?
Other than avoiding vigorous exercise, most people are able to return to their normal routine the day after the procedure.
About two days after the procedure, the hair from the graft will begin to fall out, and hair re-growth may be thinner for several months. This is normal, and is caused by the brief period of diminished blood supply that occurs during the procedure.
During the first month and a half, little or no new hair will grow in. However, within three months of the operation, new hair will begin to sprout in the grafts. After another three months, the procedure may be repeated to fill in spaces between the grafts, for an even fuller, thicker head of hair.
What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
Because the plugs and grafts are taken from areas where hair is strong and healthy, transplants should continue to grow throughout an individual's lifetime. While it is normal for some of the grafts not to take, most people are pleased with the results of their hair transplant.
In general, the best candidates for hair transplants are:
- Mature enough to fully understand the procedure
- Knowledgeable about the procedure
- In good physical and psychological health
- Wanting to improve their appearance
- Realistic in their expectations
- Non-smokers or able to stop smoking during the healing process
- Possessing healthy hair on the sides and back of the head
- Informed about the effects of their hair texture on the outcome
The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your surgeon will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your surgeon if he / she considers you an ideal candidate for this surgery.
There are a variety of alternatives to hair transplants, including scalp reduction surgery, flap surgery, hairpieces, and drug treatments. Ask you doctor for help in determining which is best for you.
Hair Transplant Risks and Limitations:
Complications are usually minor when a hair transplant is performed by a qualified board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in performing hair transplants. You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following your doctor's instructions both before and after the procedure.
You should be aware that:
- Scarring may occur on the graft sites. However, most scars are small and are covered up by growing hair.
- Infection can occur in the grafted areas. Your physician may decide to prescribe antibiotics before the procedure, as a precaution, or afterward if infection occurs.
You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following your doctor's instructions both before and after the procedure.
Costs for this procedure vary, depending on the doctor, the location, technique used and the difficulty of the specific case. The national average of 2009 surgeon fees for hair transplantation was $5,218. This fee does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, or other related expenses.
The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.
*Disclaimer: Costs sources: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), nationally in 2009 and 2010. Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may vary depending the extensiveness of the procedure, location, and other factors. Costs are provided solely for research purposes. We are not a plastic surgery company and do not represent any plastic surgeons. For specific estimates, please contact a qualified plastic surgeon.