We have compiled the following list of our patients’ most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about hair transplants, which can be performed at our office. We encourage you to read on for further information about hair loss or hair transplants.
Why Am I Going Bald and How Much Hair Will I Lose?
It is generally agreed upon that almost all men and many women will experience some degree of hair thinning as they age. While some women develop generalized and diffuse hair thinning, many lose hair in a rectangular pattern directly behind the anterior hairline. Many men will experience a pattern of hair loss that frequently follows that of a male relative. We refer to these typical hair loss distributions as “male or female pattern baldness.” The medical term for baldness is alopecia. Alopecia is an inherited condition like eye color or physical stature. Since this trait is inherited, there is nothing you can do to prevent hair loss. A combination of the male hormone testosterone and the genetic trait for hair loss are the two primary factors responsible for “pattern hair loss.”
It is impossible to definitely predict how much hair an individual will lose. However, the amount of anticipated hair loss and remaining donor hair are essential to evaluate because they are crucial elements in the individualized treatment plan for your hair transplantation.
Hair transplants, which are becoming increasingly popular among our patients, are a permanent solution to alopecia.
What patients are good candidates for hair transplants?
Potential candidates for hair transplants must be in good health and have adequate donor hair. The results are dependent upon many factors. These include current age, extent of hair loss, anticipated future hair loss pattern, texture, color and thickness of your donor hair, and the number of sessions needed to complete the hair transplantation. It is also important to outline what limitations exist to achieving complete hair restoration and to carefully evaluate your hair loss pattern to provide you with a realistic expectation of what can be accomplished. Hair transplants are not for everyone, so we will evaluate your case on a personal basis.
What are Hair Transplants?
Hair transplants are a very specialized surgical technique. Here’s how it works: hair from the fringe above the ears and around the back of the head is transferred to the crown and the front portions of the scalp. In the vast majority of individuals, the hair from the fringe and back of the scalp is genetically encoded to grow throughout life. Thus, the transplanted hair will continue to grow indefinitely. This permanently growing hair in the fringe serves as the donor area. These permanent hair grafts are transplanted into small slits that are created by the surgeon in the area of alopecia. This is known as the recipient area for hair transplants.
What Types of Grafts Are Used?
The most common type of graft we used in called a follicular unit. A follicular unit is the way hairs gather together in their natural state. In other words, some hairs grow as single units; others grow in pairs, and still others exist in thicker gatherings of three to four hairs. We prepare each graft as a follicular unit, the way they exist in nature, and transplant them into very tiny slits just large enough for the graft.
These types of grafts are totally natural in appearance. The only down side to follicular unit grafting is that a somewhat thin or “see through” appearance is produced. What this means is that more grafts are needed to produce a fuller appearance. Sometimes, grafts that are larger than follicular units are used to provide additional bulk. This is only done in areas where the appearance will remain totally natural and added thickness is required. In women, we often use larger grafts to satisfy the need for bulk but are still able to maintain a natural look.
What Can I Expect After Surgery?
After their hair transplants, our patients go home with a complete set of instructions and medications. We do not bandage our patients’ heads. Most people are able to return to work within a few days. If swelling does occur, it takes place maximally on the third post-operative day in the forehead. Typically, there is some mild to moderate discomfort in the donor area but minimal pain in the recipient sites.
Vigorous activity should be postponed for seven to 10 days following the surgery. Soon after the transplant, the new follicles go into a resting stage, during which time no growth will occur. This stage lasts approximately three months. After this stage, your new hair growth will begin – but it will take approximately five months to mature and develop into a result that can be assessed. This is a general guide regarding growth rates. Some patients have accelerated growth, and others have delayed rates of growth and cannot be fully evaluated for a full year following the transplant.
Will The Hair Transplants Be Natural After The Hair Has Grown In?
Using new methods of grafting, we are able to create the most natural hairline possible. Through the use of follicular unit grafting, we create a natural transition zone between the forehead and the back of the scalp. In men, this technique simulates the natural hairline seen in many older individuals who still have their hair but have some natural thinning and recession. This natural mature hairline, which frames the face, is what we strive for when performing hair transplants. It is unrealistic to anticipate that a hair transplant or other procedure can recreate the hairline that you once had at age 18. In women, we often use larger grafts to satisfy the need for bulk but still are able to maintain a natural look.
Do The Hair Transplantation Procedures Hurt?
The hair transplants we perform are relatively painless. These procedures are performed using local anesthesia or intravenous sedation administered by our certified nurse anesthesiologist. Often, a mild sedative is given during the procedure when sedation is not used.
What Happens To The Donor Area Of My Head?
The hair transplant “donor area” is closed with stitches and the surrounding hair covers the site completely. This usually leaves the donor area completely undetectable immediately after a procedure. While a permanent scar will remain in the area of the donor hair harvest site, it is almost always invisible when the hair length is 1/8 inch or longer.
What Is A Scalp Reduction?
A scalp reduction is a procedure to remove bald scalp and bring the hair-bearing scalp closer together. This is a useful procedure in select patients but is much less frequently performed today as compared to a few years ago. The improved hair transplant techniques and results, the resulting scalp reduction scar, and the progressive nature of hair loss with more exposure of the scar are factors that have made this a less frequently chosen option in our hair restoration practice.
What Are Hair Flaps?
Hair flaps are techniques to transfer large portions of hair on the sides and back of the scalp to the front and central areas of the head. The most efficient method to perform a flap procedure is to first expand the scalp using a tissue expander. This is a balloon-like device frequently used in reconstructive surgery. The concept of a tissue expander is to enlarge the surface area of the hair-bearing scalp on the sides of the head. By enlarging the supply of scalp with hair, more is available to replace the bald areas. This procedure has limited application for the majority of patients. Most patients who are candidates for this surgery have reconstructive needs following burns or another type of injury to the scalp.
Can I Have Some Improvements Made To Previous Hair Transplants I’ve Received?
YES. If you have previously had hair transplants or another hair transplantation procedure and you wish to have some improvements made, this can often be done. Corrective hair transplant
procedures are one of Dr. Vogel’s special areas of interest in hair restoration. Please refer to the articles posted at the top of the hair section for more details on the topic of corrective or repair hair transplant procedures. Corrective surgery is one of the special areas where we can draw upon Dr. Vogel’s surgical experience in plastic surgery
and is a unique asset to custom design a plan best suited to your particular requirements.
Who Are Hair Transplant Surgeons? And, How Can I Find Someone Qualified to Perform Hair Transplants?
No one medical specialty represents hair transplantation surgery as its exclusive domain. Today, hair transplants are performed by physicians with differing backgrounds and specialties. Therefore, it is crucial to select a surgeon based on proven work, reputation and surgical experience. In addition, a mutual understanding and good relationship with your physician and his staff are essential. Furthermore, be sure to check into the facilities in which the hair transplant will be performed, speak to the doctor’s staff who will be assisting him during the surgery, and finally, gauge your degree of comfort with the entire prospect of having hair transplantation surgery by this team.
If you have more questions about hair transplants, we encourage you to contact the plastic surgery office of Dr. James Vogel. As with all procedures, a detailed consultation is necessary for you to be fully informed about the procedures, alternatives, and risks.
What is Propecia®?
Propecia® is the trade name for the medication called finasteride. The drug blocks the male hormone dihydrotestosterone from attaching to sensitive hair follicles and causing them to fall out. Generally it takes about 6 months of daily use to see an effect from the drug. Studies show that about 80% of men maintain their hair count or experience a net increase in the number of hairs with the drug use. Side effects are minimal; however, there have been some reports of libido loss (about 2%) which returns upon cessation of the drug. When combined with a hair transplant, the propecia® can enhance the results because it helps to reduce the likelihood of loss of surrounding hair.
To learn more about hair transplants, please contact our plastic surgery practice.