Hair transplantation is the most sought-after cosmetic procedure in modern times. The successful results of the surgery along with the fact it is the single permanent solution managed to break some of the stigma surrounding male cosmetic surgery. The field of hair transplants is vast, and various techniques have emerged through the years which might leave those interested in the procedure somewhat perplexed. If you belong to this category, here are some facts about hair transplants that can help breakdown the concept for you.
1- Hair transplants are permanent
The types of hair loss that hair transplants can reverse all share a mutual characteristic: stable donor regions. Donor regions in this context refer to hair unaffected by hair loss. In traumatic alopecia – hair loss from accidents such as burns – for example, hair loss occurs in the affected area exclusively and is not contagious to spread to the remaining hair. Therefore, when the grafts are extracted and implanted in areas of hair loss, the grafts do not lose their function and regenerate hair growth in the affected areas.
Similarly, with androgenic alopecia, the most common cause of hair loss, the condition is notorious for its distinct pattern of hair loss. The crown region and hairline are most susceptible to hair loss whereas the back of the scalp is resistant to hair loss. The contradicting sensitivity to androgens between the two areas is genetically predetermined. To word it differently, the androgen-resistant properties found in follicular units located in the back of the scalp are not altered with the transplantation process. As a result, they continue to grow hair in previously deserted areas.
2- The success of the surgery relies on the supply of donor regions
The degree of hair loss varies from one person to another, and so do areas of stable hair growth and balding scalp. For effective results, patients have to have a sufficient supply of donor hair to cover the areas of hair loss. Consequently, alopecia total is and alopecia universalist are conditions that deplete the patient’s supply of donor regions. Both conditions result in complete hair loss in the scalp and the later in total hair loss all over the body.
Even androgenic alopecia in some instances can affect a significant percentage of the scalp, and the unaffected hair cannot cover the balding scalp. If you would like to have your scalp assessed by a medical specialist to determine the ratio of your donor regions to areas of hair loss, book a free virtual consultation with Vera Clinic.
3- Not all cases of hair loss are reversible with hair transplants
Another factor that contributes to the success of the surgery is the predictability of donor regions. Alopecia aerate is a form of hair loss that results from an autoimmune disorder – a condition where the body’s line of defense attacks its own cells including follicular units. Hair loss in alopecia aerate occurs in unpredictable patches. The lack of the element of predictability leads to the failure of the procedure. Since the way hair loss occurs is random, hair loss from alopecia aerate can be reversed if the underlying cause is treated.
4- The process lasts around six hours
The procedure lasts approximately six hours give or take depending on the number of grafts to be implanted. Hair transplantation is divided into five major stages. The first step is the hairline design where the surgeon draws on the expected hairline and discusses it with the patient until an agreement is reached. The second step includes the application of an aesthetic in donor and recipient sites to prepare for the surgery.
Following this begins the extraction phase were grafts are carefully harvested in preserved in a Hypothermosol solution. Next comes the channel opening phase to prepare the recipient site for implantation. With a micro-sized blade, incisions are made in the recipient site where the grafts will be implanted.
Between every stage and the other, the patient is granted a 15-minute break where they can have a light meal.
5- There are only two primary techniques of hair transplantations
Hair transplantation techniques consist of two primary methods: follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE). The remaining methods are variants of follicular unit extraction.
The two techniques differ in the extraction phase. FUT, the first method of hair transplants to emerge, follows an invasive protocol of graft harvesting. In order to obtain grafts, a piece of the scalp is surgically excised and later dissected under a microscope. The wound needs stitching which leaves behind a linear scar. In addition, the depth of the strip of skin excised affects the nerves in the area which could lead to permanent numbness in the area.
FUE, on the other hand, gained more popularity for its side-effects free method of extraction. The technique employs a micro-punch to first isolate follicular units by creating circular incisions around the follicular units that are nearly the same size as the grafts. The follicular units are then extracted with forceps. This method leaves minuscule scars that cannot be seen with the naked eye and no risk of nerve damage.
6- The technique restores hair in other regions
With the emergence of FUE, the applications of hair transplantations expanded to include sensitive areas on the face such as the eyebrows and the beard. Eyebrow transplants and beard transplants allow patients to restore hair in the area, fill patches, or merely re-style them. The donor hair is extracted from regions that are similar in texture to the natural hair in the area. Scalp hair acts as donor region for beard transplants whereas behind the ear hair acts as donor regions for eyebrow transplants.
Hair transplants consist of two primary methods of hair restoration FUE and FUT. FUE is the more recent of the two and unlike FUT does not create visible scarring or cause nerve damage in the area. The results are permanent and natural, but the surgical method of hair restoration is not for every smooth head. Patients have to have a predictable pattern of hair loss and a sufficient supply of donor hair.