Hair Transplant Surgery
Hair transplantation is a relatively simple cosmetic surgery
whereby your own existing hair is transferred from a donor
are to the recipient area.
Before we examine hair transplant surgery in detail, let's
clear up a few common misunderstandings about hair transplant
FUT vs. Hair Plugs - Clearing up Hollywood's stupidity
Although Hollywood likes to joke about men with "hair
plugs" in their movies and television shows, - script
writers and movie directors have not caught up with the
reality that 21st Century hair transplants are virtually
undetectable. The day of the hair plug (a single hair graft
consisting of 10 to 50 hairs) is over. Even if you wanted
implanted - you would find it almost impossible to convince
a doctor that would implant them.
The ironic piece of Hollywood's tired and dumb joke is
that many in the business, including celebrities have had
perfectly natural looking follicular unit hair transplants
themselves. For some reason, they must be too image conscious
to inform the writers and directors who mock modern day
Enter - Follicular
Unit Hair Transplants: Modern hair transplant
surgery has advanced substantially over the last 2 decades
which have introduced the follicular unit, sometimes referred
to as FUT.
The hair on your scalp grows naturally in groups of 1,
2 and 3 hairs. These groups are termed follicular units
and this is the size of hair grafts that most doctors will
implant into your hair loss affected area.
Because doctors are implanting the smallest possible grafts
in their natural follicular unit state, the results of modern
hair transplant surgery are virtually undetectable and appear
the most natural.
Other misperceptions about hair transplant surgery
1. Doctors will be using someone else's hair or artificial
hair. False. Doctors will be using your
own natural hair.
2. Hair transplants are only for men. False.
The number of women seeking hair transplant surgery increases
3. Hair transplant surgery will give you a beautiful head
of hair like Brad Pitt or some other famous celebrity. False.
Many men have unrealistic expectations before getting a
hair transplant. Since the amount of hair you can have implanted
is dependent on your donor hair, it is difficult to achieve
a thick, full head of hair as you had when you were a teenager.
Hair transplants can give you a younger, more youthful
appearance with remarkable results. When combined with hair
loss medications such as finasteride or dutasteride, most
men can reverse their hair loss problem to their complete
satisfaction - as well as the satisfaction of the opposite
The following outline describes in the most general of
terms an approximate step by step guide of a hair transplant
procedure. Each hair transplant doctor and clinic has their
own exact method of performing the procedure which may differ
from the most basic of explanations below.
- Blood Tests
- Anesthestize the donor area and recipient area.
- Extraction of the donor strip/Suture donor area
- Dividing the strip into follicular units.
- Implanting the follicular units.
- Post operative care
After your consultation with the hair transplant doctor
whereby the amount of grafts and recipient areas are discussed
and mapped out, most doctors require a simple blood test
before the procedure even begins. In states like Florida,
these blood tests are required by law.
When your blood tests come back from the lab, the hair
transplant clinic can begin your procedure.
A full service surgery room is not needed for a hair transplant.
In most cases, your doctor's office will have a special
room customized for hair transplant surgery.
Most clinics will offer you a valium 30 to 60 minutes before
the actual procedure begins. This will help to relax you
before the surgery and calm your nerves.
Using a local anesthesia, the doctor will numb the recipient
area and donor area. This is where the pain comes in. Some
clinics like to describe this anesthesia shot as a "mild
discomfort" on their websites, but the truth is - it
hurts like hell. The good news is the pain quickly goes
away once the lidocaine takes affect.
The next step in the procedure is the removal of the donor
strip. (See the hair transplant diagram below). This strip
can measure approximately, on average, 2 cm wide and be
10 cm or more in length. Maybe more, maybe less, depending
on the number of hair grafts being implanted.
Hair Transplant Diagram
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In order to remove the donor strip from the back of your
head, you will have to lay down on your stomach. Your head
will rest on a special head rest with a vacant area for
your face to fit through.
Once the doctor has removed the strip, trained technicians
or nurses will begin dividing the strip into follicular
unit hair grafts with the aid of microscope like goggles.
While the division and counting is being done, the doctor
will suture the scalp of your donor area back together.
Following the suturing of your donor area, you will move
from laying on your stomach to comfortably reclining on
your back in the surgery chair. At this point, the doctor
will begin preparing your hair loss affected area (recipient
area for hair grafts) for the follicular unit hair grafts
to be implanted.
This step involves making tiny incisions with a surgical
instruments in the recipient area. These tiny incisions
is where your scalp will receive the new grafts of hair.
Often, a hair transplant team will work together - one
making the recipient incision while the other implants the
It's during this step in the hair transplant process that
the experience and care of the doctor are most needed. The
pattern in which the grafts are implanted must appear natural
and care is taken by the doctor to insure blood flow to
the new grafts. Your hair transplant doctor will be looking
at your recipient incisions and must invision in his mind
how the hair will look as it grows in over the next 12 months.
Depending on the number of grafts you are having implanted
(mega sessions of 2,500 grafts are not uncommon) the entire
surgery can take 2 to 4 hours.
When the procedure is over, your hair transplant doctor
will give you advice on how to care for your new hair grafts
over the next week or two. It is important to remember that
in all cases of hair transplantation, the new hair grafts
will "scab" as they heal and fall out in 7 to
Do not be alarmed by this because it is completely normal.
Your new hair grafts have gone into the resting phase of
the hair growth cycle and will reappear as new hair growth
in 3 to 6 and even up to 12 months later.
Until the scabs heal and fall out, you may want to plan
on wearing a loose fitting ball cap to cover the hair graft
scabs when in public. If you don't want anyone to notice
your scabs at all - you may want to plan on wearing that
hat for 7 to 14 days. If people see you with your head uncovered
for those 1 to 2 weeks, it will be obvious you had a hair
transplant. So plan on keeping it covered up, and possibly
scheduling the surgery during in conjunction with your vacation
Normal physical activities can be resumed 24 hours after
surgery. You will not have to spend the night in the hospital
for a hair transplant surgery. Following the procedure,
your doctor will mostly likely prescribe an antibiotic to
prevent infection, a mild steroid (prednisone) to decrease
swelling - and a mild pain killer.
The hardest part of the entire procedure may not be the
actual surgery itself, but waiting for the new grafts to
grow where there was once baldness. If you have ever sat
around "watching the grass grow" - you might understand
the patience required.