Hair transplantation is a cosmetic surgical technique. The technique involves moving individual hair follicles from one part of the body called the donor site to another part of the body. This enables hair to be moved to a bald or balding part of the body known as the recipient site.
Hair transplantation is primarily utilized to treat male pattern baldness, but is equally effective on women as well. Many women also experience a receding hair line or bald patches. Hair transplantation is a minimally invasive procedure. The hair transplant doctor takes grafts containing hair follicles that are genetically resistant to balding. These grafts are transplanted to the bald scalp. The technique can also be used to restore eyelashes, eyebrows, beard hair, chest hair, and even pubic hair. Sometimes it can be used to fill in unsightly scars caused by accidents or cosmetic plastic surgery.
Plastic surgery procedures such as face-lifts and especially full forehead lifts can previous unsightly scars where the hair does not grow back. Hair transplants can be used to cover scars with hair and also to revise poorly done previous hair transplants. Hair transplantation is much different from skin grafting. The grafts contain almost all of the epidermis and dermis surrounding the hair follicle, but are usually tiny and may include 1 to 4 hairs.
These tiny grafts are typically transplanted rather than a single huge strip of skin. Advanced techniques transplant 1 to 4 hairs, since hairs naturally grow this way. This can give an incredible and natural appearance to the transplanted hair. The price of hair transplantation varies tremendously as some patients do in office visits over time and others undergo a larger procedure that involves sedation and extensive transplanting.
A transplant procedure can performed on an outpatient basis. Often only mild sedation or an injected local anesthesia is needed. Transplants can be performed gradually or more aggressively under longer operation with anesthesia and a longer operation involving several hours. The scalp has to be washed and treated with an antibacterial agent prior to the harvesting of the donor scalp hair.
Follicular unit extraction
With follicular unit extraction the down time and recovery time is minimal. This is because only small amounts of hair is extracted and then moved, one tiny group at a time. No major excisions are made. You can do this in a single procedure or with many office visits.
With strip harvesting, a thin excision of hair is taken out in an area of the head with good hair growth. That excision is sewn up. Meanwhile the excised strip is worked on where the surgeon extracts tiny groups of a few hairs. At the new site, small wounds are created at the angle that hair would naturally grow at, and then the little follicles are implanted in to those wounds on the head. So you have the wound from the donor site that has to heal, as well as very small cuts where the hair was implanted at the recipient site.
Side effects, surprisingly, can be that your hair goes into shock where follicles were removed and moved to. In fact, most transplanted hair will fall out but then it grows in normally after that. This shock loss from the trauma to the hair can cause thinning and bald patches but they usually resolve as the hair regrows. Immediately after the procedure the patient will usually be given antibiotics to prevent the tiny wounds from getting infected and pain medication if needed. Within around 10 days to 14 days the wounds should resolve, with the transplanted hair growing in after a couple of months. Other side effects from hair transplantation include swelling, or an irregular look to the newly implanted hair.