About Hair Transplants
Primarily a solution to treat male pattern baldness, a hair transplant is a comparatively non-invasive surgical procedure whereby skin and hair follicles are transplanted to balding sections of a patient's head.
In a hair transplant procedure grafts of skin with hair follicles are taken from one part of the body (donor site) and transplanted to sections of bald scalp (recipient site).
While the procedure generally involves transplantation to scalp affected by male pattern baldness, it can also be performed on sections of skin affected by scarring.
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) is the most popular and natural hair transplant procedure. The donor site may be cultivated by strip or Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) harvesting. In both methods, the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia.
In the former method, the patient has a strip of tissue exhibiting healthy hair growth removed. This scalp tissue – usually between one to one and a half centimeters wide and up to 30cm long – is dissected into very small pieces of natural hair groupings, and then transplanted to the recipient site. One disadvantage of this method is that the suturing of the wound at the donor site will leave a scar, however with trichophytic closure, scarring can be reduced.
In FUE harvesting, individual hair follicles are extracted in sections as small as 0.6mm in diameter. A micro blade is then employed to transplant the follicles into the recipient site, placing the grafts at a consistent angle to mirror a realistic hair pattern. No stitches are required and there is no visible scarring so this is a better option for patients who prefer to wear their hair short. However, the procedure takes considerably longer than strip harvesting to perform. Recovery time from FUE harvesting is only one week, compared to two weeks for strip harvesting.
Care must be taken with both techniques to prevent transaction – the severing of the hair shaft from the follicle.
The surgery usually takes around four hours to complete, and semi-permeable dressings are placed on the wound to allow for seepage of tissue fluid, and blood. Dressings must be changed at least every 24 hours.
Patients need to be aware that most of the transplanted hair will suffer shock loss and fall out in the week to 10 days post-surgery. However, within a period of a couple of months, new hair growth will begin from the transplanted follicles and will continue to flourish and thicken.
Side effects of a hair transplant may include bald patches, swelling of the scalp, and itching.