What is hair transplant surgery?
Hair transplant surgery restores hair to bald or thinning areas of the scalp. In addition to hair transplantation, there are many other hair operations including flap surgery, scalp tissue expansion, and scalp reduction surgery. These surgeries can be used alone or in combination to provide patients with ideal scalp results.
Hair transplantation involves removing small pieces of hair-bearing scalp from a donor site and grafting them to bald or thinning areas of the scalp.
Flap surgery involves moving hair bearing scalp tissue to bald areas of the scalp.
Tissue expansion allows hair bearing scalp to expand over areas of the scalp with no hair.
Scalp reduction surgery involves surgically removing bald areas of the scalp and joining the areas with hair.
If you and your surgeon have determined that hair transplant surgery is the best option for you, you can feel assured knowing that our board-certified plastic surgeons have been successfully performing these procedures for over thirty years.
Misconceptions on Hair Loss
Baldness is often attributed to poor circulation to the scalp, vitamin deficiencies, dandruff, and even excessive hat wearing. All of these theories have been disproved. It’s also untrue that baldness skips a generation—that hair loss can be determined by looking at your maternal grandfather—or that 40-year-old men who haven’t lost their hair will never lose it.
Hair loss is primarily caused by a combination of:
- A change in hormones
- A family history of baldness
As a rule, the earlier hair loss begins, the more severe the baldness will become.
Hair transplant candidates
You may be a candidate for hair transplant surgery if you have healthy hair growth at the back and sides of the head to serve as donor areas.
- Donor areas are areas of the scalp from which grafts and flaps are taken.
- Factors such as hair color, texture, waviness/curliness may affect the cosmetic result.
- There many techniques used in hair replacement surgery. Sometimes, two or more techniques are used to achieve the best results.
Hair transplant surgery can enhance your appearance and self-confidence, but the results may not match your ideal. Before you decide on surgery, carefully think about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
Understand that all hair replacement techniques use existing hair. The goal of surgery is to find the most efficient use of existing hair.
More conservative hair transplantation techniques, such as punch grafts, mini-grafts, micro-grafts, slit grafts and strip grafts, are generally performed on patients who desire a more modest change in hair fullness. Flaps, tissue-expansion and scalp-reduction are procedures that are more appropriate for patients desiring a more dramatic change.
Remember, there are limits to what can be accomplished. An individual with very little hair may not be advised to undergo hair transplant surgery.
Hair transplant recovery
How you feel after surgery depends on the extent and complexity of the procedure. Aching, excessive tightness, or throbbing can be controlled with pain medication prescribed by your physician. If bandages are used, they will usually be removed one day later. You may gently wash your hair within two days following surgery. Any stitches will be removed in a week to 10 days. Be sure to discuss the possibility of swelling, bruising, and drainage with your surgeon.
Because strenuous activity increases blood flow to the scalp and may cause your transplants or incisions to bleed, you may be instructed to avoid vigorous exercise and contact sports for at least three weeks. Some doctors also advise that sexual activity be avoided for at least 10 days after surgery.
To make sure that your incisions are healing properly, your doctor will probably want to see you several times during the first month after surgery. It’s important that you carefully follow any advice you receive at these follow-up visits.
Getting back to normal
How soon you resume your normal routine depends on the length, complexity and type of surgery you’ve had. You may feel well enough to return to work and resume light activity after several days. Many patients who have had transplants find that their “new” hair falls out within six weeks after surgery. This condition is normal and almost always temporary. After hair falls out, it will take another five to six weeks before hair growth resumes. You can expect about a half an inch of growth per month.
You may need a surgical “touch-up” procedure to create more natural-looking results after your incisions have healed. Sometimes, this involves blending, a filling-in of the hairline using a combination of mini-grafts, micro-grafts, or slit grafts. If you’ve had a flap procedure, a small bump called a “dog ear” may remain visible on the scalp. Your doctor can surgically remove this after complete healing has occurred.
In general, it’s best to anticipate that you will need a touch-up procedure. Your surgeon can usually predict how extensive your follow-up surgery will be.