Hair loss is a common medical issue among male and female patients. While some people try to hide their hair loss with a hat or by wearing their hair in a different style, other patients decide to make a change using surgical hair restoration methods.
What does the hair transplant process involve and how is it performed? We’ve got a rundown of the hair transplant process to take the mystery out of hair restoration.
First Step of the Hair Transplant Process
The first step a patient needs to perform when thinking about undergoing a hair transplant is scheduling a consultation appointment with a board-certified surgeon. The surgeon will perform a thorough examination of the patient in order to determine the cause of the hair loss in the patient. In addition, the doctor will discuss the desired final results in order to determine the best method possible to achieve natural looking results as well as setting realistic expectations.
Once the reason for the hair loss is determined, the surgeon will present the various options available to the patient:
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) – Follicular unit extraction is a hair restoration technique where follicular units are harvested one by one from the same donor area on the scalp. It does not require the removal of a strip of the scalp or a large incision. This method can take longer than FUT (see below) as it must be performed meticulously and carefully to avoid damaging any of the hair follicles.
- Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT) – Follicular unit transplant involves the removal of a strip from the scalp of the patient. The strip is removed from the back of the head below the crown as well as between the ears. Once the strip is removed, the surgeon uses a microscope to harvest individual follicular units from the scalp strip. The hair follicles are then transplanted to thinning or balding areas of the head. Stitches are used to close the incision that was made on the donor area and they remain in place for seven to ten days. Patients should be aware of the fact that there is a risk of permanent scarring and lasting numbness if the suturing is done improperly or the sutures come undone before they are removed.
- ARTAS System – This FUE transplant technique uses a robotic arm to harvest hair using follicular unit extraction (r-FUE). Computer assistance is used to operate an image-guided robotic arm as well as special imaging software to harvest the hair grafts in an individual and precise manner.
Hair Transplant Recovery and Results
The recovery process from a hair transplant does not happen overnight but it does have a relatively easy recovery period.
There might be some crusting that occurs in the areas where the grafts are placed on the scalp. The crusting will naturally resolve in about four or five days. With two to four weeks, some of the transplanted hair will begin to fall out. Patients should not worry as this is a natural occurrence. The hair will begin to grown back naturally after two or three months. The hair growth process will continue and the final results will be visible after twelve to eighteen months. The results will be a hairline desired by the patient that features fuller and thicker hair on the scalp.
There are some rare cases where a second FUE procedure will be performed to add additional thickness to the hair. This step is not normally needed as most patients are satisfied with their results after a hair transplant.
Hair restoration surgery is customized for each patient in order to address their specific hair loss needs and hair transplant goals. It is important to ask any and all question during the initial consultation appointment with the surgeon. A well-informed and knowledgeable patient is the best kind of patient since the person knows what will happen during the process and is armed with realistic expectations. A surgeon that is not willing to answer questions during any step of the hair transplant experience should be a “red flag” to patients. An experienced and board-certified surgeon can answer questions and provide a full head of thick and healthy hair as well as natural looking results.