Hair transplantation is an effective treatment for people dealing with hair loss. People struggling with unhealthy hair growth usually struggle with self-esteem and have reduced self-confidence, but undergoing a hair transplant can boost their confidence.
Although the procedure is not a permanent solution for hair loss, it restores the fullness of your hair. Reading on, you will understand what the hair transplant procedure involves and what to expect after treatment.
What is hair transplantation?
Hair transplantation is a procedure for transplanting healthy hair follicles to an area with thin hair or no hair follicles. The procedure involves microsurgical technologies that offer hair restoration for bald people and those with no active hair follicles. You can undergo hair transplant surgery if you have thin or no hair.
Hair Transplants are customised to suit each individual. The surgeon will collect hair follicles resistant to shedding from a donor area for transplantation to the thinning area. Hair transplantation aims to give your hair a natural and healthy appearance.
The most common type of hair loss is male pattern hair loss characterised by regression of the hairline from the forehead area or opening of the apex. Male pattern spillage also affects women, but 50% of men struggle with hair loss by age 50.
What you should consider before a hair transplant
Hair transplant surgery is usually more successful than over-the-counter products for hair restoration. However, you need to consider certain facts before undergoing the procedure
- About 10 – 80% of transplanted hair fully grow back on 3 – 4 months
- Those with dormant hair follicles (the sacs containing hair beneath the skin with no active hair growth) may have less successful transplants, but plasma therapy can increase the success of the treatment by 75%
- Your transplanted hair will become thin over time like your regular hair
The hair transplant procedure is effective but may not work for everyone. You can use them to restore naturally thinning hair or bald spots and hair loss due to an injury.
Most transplants require hair from another body part, so the procedure is unsuitable for the following.
- People with widespread baldness and thinning
- Thick scalp from injuries
- Hair loss from chemotherapy or other medications
What to expect after hair transplant surgery
After your hair transplant surgery, your scalp may feel tender, and you have to take pain medications for some days. Your hair transplant surgery will wear bandages on your scalp for a day or two and prescribe an anti-inflammatory or antibiotics medication for a couple of days. Most people can resume work 2 – 5 days following hair transplant surgery.
Procedure for hair transplant
Generally, a hair transplant involves extracting hair from another part of your body or scalp and transferring it to the area without hair. The most common area for hair extraction is the back of the head.
Before surgery, the surgeon will sterilise the area for the hair extraction and apply a local anaesthetic. You can also get sedation on request to allow you to sleep through the procedure.
The surgeon will use one of the following hair transplant methods.
Follicular Unite Transplantation (FUT)
FUT also called follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS), involves these steps:
- The surgeon will use a scalpel to remove a piece of your scalp from the back of your head. The removed piece can be about 6 – 10 inches but stretch to touch both ears
- They will stitch the areas the scalp was removed
- The surgical team will separate the strips into smaller pieces using a scalpel. In some cases, they split the piece up into 2000 smaller fragments called grafts. Some grafts can hold only one hair.
- The surgeon will use a blade or needle to make several holes in your scalp for the hair transplant
- They will cover the surgical site with gauze or bandages
The number of hair grafts you will get will depend on factors such as:
- Hair colour
- Size of the transplant area
- Type of hair
- Thickness or quality of hair
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
This procedure involves these steps
- After the surgeon shaves the back of your head, they will extract the hair one by one to serve as grafts
- They will insert the hair grafts into small wounds made on your scalp
- After the procedure, you will have several scars, but they will not be noticeable
The hair transplant procedure usually takes a day. Still, you may need two more treatments within a few months, especially for treating large areas. After the procedure, your surgeon will give instructions to care for your transplanted hair. They may also provide you with a spray for air recovery and hair restoration.
Procedure for FUE hair transplant
Reconstructing the frontal hairline
The frontal hairline is the most obvious hair transplant area, but they vary between patients. Some people prefer less dense hair frontline. For example, people in their 30s may experience minor hair loss and want to reduce the hairline to fill up the temple area.
Hair restoration procedure
The hair transplant procedure is often one-year-long, covering both pre-treatment and post-treatment. After hair transplant surgery, you may experience side effects like crust shedding, shock shedding and reddening and crusting.
These are all normal, and your hair will need about a year to grow back to see the full effect of your treatment.
Recovery following hair transplant
Both FUE and FUT procedures require several hours to days to complete. Depending on the level of work the surgeon needs to carry out, you can go home afterwards.
After your surgery, the surgeon will remove the bandages. The area may appear swollen, so expect the surgeon to inject triamcinolone to reduce the swelling.
About 2 – 3 weeks following surgery, your transplanted hair will fall out, and new growth will occur in a few months. Many people experience up to 60% hair growth in 6 – 9 months. Your surgeon can prescribe minoxidil (Rogaine) to aid hair growth after a hair transplant.
You may experience slight pain and soreness at the transplant site and the donor area. Your surgeon will prescribe medications for these.
Some aftercare tips following hair transplant treatment include:
- Avoid washing your hair for a few days after hair transplant surgery
- Avoid exercising for a week
- Avoid pressing a brush or combing over the new grafts for about three weeks
- Avoid wearing pullover shirts, jackets and hats until the doctor approves
Your transplant hair falling out is part of the procedure, so you shouldn’t be worried about it. It may take several months for the transplanted hair to match the hair growth of the surrounding hair.
Post-surgery tips for FUE hair transplant
For a more successful FUE hair transplant, ensure you consult a professional for an assessment, and you also need post-surgical treatment and care.
- Day 1
Avoid touching or washing the surgical site. You can cover your head while going out and elevate your head while sleeping to prevent detaching the grafts. Propping 3 – 4 pillows will give you an ideal angle.
- Day 2 – 4
Avoid scratching, rubbing or touching the transplanted areas. Also, avoid exposure to the sun for long periods because sunburn can damage transplanted hair and affect your skin pigmentation.
- Day 5 – 7
You can wash the surgical area and use shampoo to soften scabs. You are also clear to engage in all sports or physical activity
- Week 2 – 4
The hair follicles will be in the resting phase, and hair will begin to fall out. Continue washing your hair and drying it
- Month 2 – 3
Follow your doctor’s instructions, take monoxide, finasteride and other treatments to reduce shock loss
- Months 4 – 6
Your hair will continue to grow, but ensure you use sunblock while going out
- Months 6 – 12
The transplanted hair will get thicker and longer, and you can style the hair as you wish
Hair transplant side effects
Scarring is the most common side effect, but it is avoidable. Other common side effects include:
- Pus drainage or crust around the surgical site
- Continuous hair loss is you are still going bald
- Scalp itching, swelling and pain
- Loss of sensation around surgical sites
- Inflammation of hair follicles
Medications such as Minoxidil and Propecia taken after hair transplant treatment can cause the following side effects.
- Chest pain
- Irritated scalp
- Irregular heart rate
- Sexual dysfunction
- Foot, breast and hand swelling
You can schedule a consultation with an experienced hair transplant surgeon.