Hair Transplantation Procedure
Most people tend to only think about the surgical procedure when it comes to hair transplantation. In fact, hair transplantation consists of 3 main steps as follows:
- Pre-surgery preparation and consultation
- Post-surgery care
Pre-surgery Preparation And Consultation
Consultation is the first step for a patient to undergo a diagnosis of any condition, which involves a history taking, physical examination, and diagnosis. Hair thinning and hereditary pattern baldness are the most common conditions in patients requiring hair transplantation. However, hair transplantation may not be the best treatment for some conditions/diseases such as circular hair loss or alopecia areata. The physician must thoroughly analyze the patient’s problem, make a diagnosis and provide accurate and direct information to the patient in order to achieve the best results of hair transplantation.
The consultation usually takes no more than an hour which includes analysis of hair loss problems. During consultation, the physician will give advice on different hair transplantation techniques and analyze the hair loss problem of each patient. A special microscope is often used to assess the number, color, thickness, structure and direction of hair growth in the donor area and recipient area in order to assist in diagnosis and planning of hair transplantation, especially in the graft evaluation process and hairline design.
Your doctor may also predict the degree of hair loss in the future, in addition to analyzing your current hair loss problem. The most common method is family history taking as the history of hair loss in the family often helps to draw conclusions about future hair loss of the patient, in the case of androgenetic alopecia. For example, there is a high probability that the problem will become more severe over time if the receding hairline is noticeable at a young age,
During the consultation, the doctor will inform the patient of the expected hair transplant results, methods and techniques used in the treatment and potential risks and side effects, and also explain the preparation before undergoing hair transplantation in detail.
Photos should be taken before the patient undergoes a hair transplant. These photos are used in the before and after comparison. The hairline is then redesigned as a guideline for hair transplantation.
Hair transplantation procedure is performed under local anesthesia and the patient will be conscious throughout the process. Hair transplantation consists of 4 steps: extraction of grafts from the scalp, preparation of hair follicles, preparation of the recipient area and insertion.
Generally, hair transplantation takes about 6-8 hours depending on different steps in the procedure.
For FUE and DHI methods, the occipital hair is shaved or the entire head may be shaved prior to surgery. Some follicular units or grafts are extracted from the donor area so that the hair in the donor area remains full by using a thin, hollow drill (0.6– 1.2 mm in diameter). These grafted are then pull using forceps. This step produces small wounds which then heal naturally with no visible scarring in a few days.
Long Hair DHI is the most advanced hair transplant technique in which the patient does not have to shave or cut hair in both the donor and recipient areas. Special tools used in this technique is specially designed for the extraction of long hair grafts with a small wound size and take less recovery period.
Preparation Of The Recipient Area And Insertion
After the hair follicles or follicular units are prepared, the next step is to prepare the recipient area. The surgeon may consider using a device to create incisions to accommodate the grafts to be inserted in the recipient area. These incisions must be made with the angles corresponding to the natural hair growth direction.
Insertion of grafts at the hairline is of great importance to the naturalness of the results. In FUE method, forceps are used to inserted the hair grafts into the incisions, while Implanter Pen is used in DHI and Long Hair DHI methods. Implanter Pen can reduce the potential damage to the grafts and shorten time spent in hair transplantation, thereby contributing to the high survival rate of the transplanted hair grafts. In terms of density, direction and natural-looking results, it depends mainly on the experience and expertise of the surgeon.
After the hair transplantation, a tape is placed around the patient’s head to prevent bruising and swelling of the face. However, there will be no bandage at the recipient area, as this may cause the grafts to fall off when the bandage is removed.
Painkillers can be taken if there is pain in the donor area. After the operation, stiffness and numbness in the donor area and recipient area are experienced by many patients.
Patients can wash their hair on the third day after the operation, but they must wash their hair carefully and use a mild shampoo. Most patients are able to resume their normal activities after 5-7 days.
Patients can return to their sports and exercise routine one week after the operation. However, direct exposure to sunlight should be avoided during the first 2 months after hair transplantation.
After hair transplantation, it is recommended to treat hair loss by using medications such as finasteride or minoxidil since hair transplantation does not stop hair loss.
In the early days after hair transplantation, the transplanted hair follicles will fall out and new hair will grow back after about 3 months. The initial result is visible starting after 6 months and final result is visible after about 12 months.
The grafts extracted from the donor area, usually at the back of the head, is resistant to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone responsible for hair loss. The transplanted grafts at the recipient area are able to grow. Hair transplantation is therefore a permanent solution to hair loss.
The duration of the procedure depends on the number of hair grafts used in hair transplantation, and it take about 6-8 hours in most cases.
There is no best method as the right method depends on the degree and condition of hair loss of each patient.
Hair transplant requires very little postoperative care. Your surgeon may prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic to prevent infection, and you should use or apply it as your doctor recommended. You should also avoid direct sunlight on your head and avoid strenuous exercise and chemicals, such as hair dye, during the first few weeks to the first month after the operation.