Hair plays a valuable role in a person’s appearance, and at times is a significant factor for one’s self-esteem and confidence. Baldness afflicts many of us, and when the first signs of hair loss appear, it can be concerning and is often difficult to talk about.
However, hair loss is common in most men and women. For many years, hair transplant has become the go-to procedure to restore hair, whether for balding, hair thinning, or hair loss due to an injury, among others, as a way to achieve healthy hair.
What exactly is a hair transplant, what are the methods, side-effects, and how does it work?
What Is a Hair Transplant?
When it comes to hair loss, one cause in men is when a modified form of testosterone—the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT)—attacks hair follicles on the scalp. The hairs affected become progressively smaller, shorter, and lighter until eventually they shrink entirely and stop being produced. Other causes can be hereditary hair loss (pattern baldness), illness, iron deficiency, weight loss, childbirth, or other stressors.
A hair transplant is a restoration method that involves taking hair from areas of your scalp—called the “donor site”—and moving it to thinning or bald spots. The surgeon usually takes hair from thicker parts of the scalp or other parts of the body and transplants it to the thinning or balding area of the scalp.
From an aesthetic perspective, for a hair transplant to look and feel as natural as possible, it should be performed by an experienced surgeon.
Hair Transplant Methods
Today’s hair transplant technology has become much more sophisticated, allowing surgeons to add thickness and fill in a receding hairline for more natural results. Surgeons can harvest hairs using one of the two hair transplant methods, Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) or Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
Each process produces a similar result, albeit with a few differences. Let’s see what those are.
Follicular Unit Extraction
The FUE technique is a newer and more advanced method. It involves the extraction of individual follicular grafts containing one to four hairs small “units” from the donor site of the scalp using a specialised medical instrument. These individual grafts are then transplanted into the top of the head as required. To revive a hairline or provide extra thickness, the hairs are then transplanted onto the top of the head.
The advantage of FUE is that it doesn’t produce a large scar. Instead, it creates hundreds of tiny ‘dot’ like scars that are much less visible after healing, especially for people with light hair that might not be able to cover a traditional hair transplant scar completely.
Follicular Unit Transplantation
FUT involves removing a strip of skin from the back of the scalp. Hairs are extracted from this strip in groups of one to four. After extracting the hair follicles, the surgeon can transplant the hairs onto the top of the scalp to fill in the hairline or crown.
The benefit of FUT is that the transplanted hairs may have a higher survival rate; however, the downside of this approach is that, for certain short or shaved haircuts, it causes a more extensive visible scar on the back of the scalp.
Does Hair Transplant Work?
Hair transplants work because hair is harvested from donor sites—areas usually unaffected by hair loss. By moving hairs from the back and sides of your head to the front and top, a hair transplant surgeon may be able to give you a thicker, fuller head of hair.
FUE is a very effective treatment for hair loss, consistently outperforming alternative approaches. While with FUE, most experience a noticeable improvement, some candidates are more suitable than others. As briefly mentioned, getting enough donor hair on the back and sides of your head is the most vital requirement. Your hair’s colour and density will also impact the final result.
FUT is often recommended for patients requiring many grafts or those with limited hair availability in the donor area. This procedure can be a better solution for patients experiencing significant balding around the crown area of the head. Other factors that determine whether a patient is more fit for the FUT method include age, diagnosis, balding area and hair density.
What Are the Side-Effects of Hair Transplants?
Like with most procedures, there are some side effects. With a hair transplant, the most common one is scarring, which cannot be avoided. Other potential side effects include:
- Scarring: All hair transplant techniques produce scarring. Depending on the method, FUE or FUT, the difference is the scars’ size and shape.
- Infections: Infections can transpire near the site of the stitches. Poor scalp hygiene can lead to infections in donor and recipient areas.
- Scalp pain, itching, and swelling: Swelling is expected around the eyes and forehead. The formation of scabs at the site of the transplantation can cause itching. Yet, the itching will stop after the first few days of the surgery. The swelling goes away, but the numbness could continue till the nerves recover.
- Hair Shedding: is a common side effect of hair transplantation. Due to vascular disruption and surgical trauma, the donor area may experience hair thinning.
Should You Consider a Hair Transplant?
It’s necessary to be realistic about what you can achieve with a hair transplant. If you’re completely bald, a hair transplant will probably produce an improvement, but it’s not going to give you a full head of hair. If you have mild to moderate hair loss and plenty of donor hair, a hairline transplant can help you reverse several years of hair loss and improve your appearance.
Hair transplants are natural hair that continues to grow naturally after the implant procedure is completed. Still, patients might have to wait for about a year to see the full results. Once it grows, it is indistinguishable from natural hair. However, proper care is necessary for the best results.
Book a consultation with our qualified hair loss specialist before you decide to get a hair transplant procedure. We will carry out a thorough consultation to understand your history and concerns before establishing your current condition and suggesting the best treatment options for you.