Hair is such an important factor that it is directly linked to one’s self-esteem. Studies show that the perception of one’s own hair can have an effect on self-perception. So when you start to lose your hair, pay attention and hopefully try to prevent it. If the condition gets so worse that you have to choose hair transplantation, then here are some things you should be well aware of.
What is Hair Transplantation?
Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure that removes hair follicles from one part of the body to a balding or bald part of the body. The place from which follicles are removed is called ‘donor site’ and the place to which they are transferred is called ‘recipient site’.
Hair transplantation is done to treat different levels of androgenic alopecia in men and women. This surgery fills the balding areas with hair. But unlike any other transplant surgery, there is no need of an external donor as your own hair follicles are used for the transplantation.
Why is Hair Transplantation Performed?
It is normal to lose about 100 hairs a day. It means your hair is healthy and growing. But when you start to lose more than that, it means your hair needs your attention. There are many reasons for the loss of hair. Some of them are:
- Birth control pills in women.
- Pregnancy which can result in hormonal imbalances.
- Scalp infections such as ringworm.
- Poor diet.
- Genetic reasons.
Whatever the reason may be, don’t go with assumptions and get yourself checked. Medical intervention is necessary if you do not want to lose your hair further.
When the reason for your hair loss is thyroid or pregnancy or poor diet etc it can be easily addressed by taking medicines. But when the reason is genetic, your hair cannot grow back naturally. Under such circumstances, based on the factors like your general health condition, pattern and severity of hair loss, doctors suggest the type of treatment to help your condition.
Are you eligible for Hair Transplantation?
You are eligible for hair transplantation surgery if
- You are 25 years of age or above.
- You do not suffer from uncontrolled diabetes, asthma, hypertension, heart problems.
- You are not taking blood thinners or beta-blockers.
- You are suffering from advanced hair loss for more than five years and have a very low hair density.
Types of Hair Transplantation
There are two types of hair transplant techniques mainly used :
- Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
What is Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)?
Follicular Unit Transplantation is a highly advanced technique of hair transplantation which imitates the pattern of natural hair growth. So, it is an ideal choice for people with large bald areas on their head.
How it is done
- The surgeon will remove a strip of scalp from the back of the head using a scalpel.
- Typically the incision will be several inches long.
- The incision will be closed up with stitches.
- The surgeon now separates the removed portion of the scalp into small sections called grafts containing one or two follicles.
- These grafts are then placed in the tiny incisions made on the bald areas of the patient’s scalp.
The hair grown from these grafts follow a natural hair growth pattern and there will be no signs of the surgery performed.
Advantages of the FUT procedure:
- Transplantation of a large number of follicles in a single session.
- Better results compared to other hair procedures.
- Enhanced and natural looking hair.
- Affordable than other procedures.
Risks and disadvantages of the FUT procedure:
There are pros and cons to any surgery. Likewise, there are certain risks and disadvantages of undergoing the Follicular Unit Transplantation. They are
- Numbness, discomfort, itching during the process.
- Temporary loss of hair after the procedure. The hair can grow back in 3-6 months.
- Swelling of the scalp.
- Inflammation or infection of the hair follicles called folliculitis.
- Unnatural looking locks of hair.
- Scarring of the surgery site in some cases.
- Longer recovery period.
What is Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)?
In Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE), as a contradiction to FUT, the hair follicles are cut out directly from the donor site through hundreds or thousands of tiny punch incisions.
How it is done
- The surgeon uses a micro-needle to punch a tiny incision around hair follicle and extract it.
- The surgeon then makes tiny holes in the recipient area. Then gently place the extracted follicles in these holes.
- A surgeon can place hundreds or even thousands of hair during one session.
- The surgery can take four hours to complete and the tiny incisions will be closed with stitches.
You need to cover your scalp with bandages or gauze for a few days. To achieve full head hair transplantation, you may need three to four sessions which are performed several months apart for the previous transplant to heal completely.
Advantages of the FUE procedure:
- Less invasive than FUT.
- No visible scarring in the donor area.
- Ideal for patients in early stages of hair loss.
- Ideal for patients with short hairstyles.
- Ideal for eyebrow and moustache replacement.
Risks and disadvantages of the FUE procedure:
The risks and disadvantages of the FUE technique include
- Hundreds of tiny white scars on the head which will be invisible after your hair has grown.
- Numbness, bleeding, itching and swelling around the eyes and forehead.
- Formation of temporary cyst in the areas where hair is transplanted.
- Expensive and time consuming process.
- Not suitable for large areas of baldness.
After the surgery, new hair grows in the transplanted areas of the scalp. Its density depends on
- Scalp laxity
- The density of follicles in the transplanted area
- Hair quality
- Hair curl
It is important to discuss the possible outcome with your surgeon and take medication or any other prescribed by your doctor. If you don’t follow the instructions, you may continue to lose your hair in the non-treated areas of your scalp.