In my previous article I described different methods of preventing and treating hair loss in men and women. Hair transplantation is one of the best and successful methods of treating baldness in men. Hair transplantation has been used by surgeons for years and different techniques are being used since then, but most modern and advanced techniques are those that give the newly transplanted hair a hard-to-detect and natural look.
Some people prefer to live with the baldness and care less about the receding hairline. Others appreciate the advanced techniques and procedures to restore hair on the bald area. If you do decide to treat your baldness with hair transplantation techniques, then follow these steps to better know the pros and cons and some common pitfalls to be avoided.
- Get informed about your hair loss. Educate yourself on why are you experiencing hair loss and what opportunities you can seize to treat it.
- Talk to your doctor about your decision. Tell your doctor about your hair loss history and any medication or drugs you are taking for this purpose. Ask the doctor to examine your health and let you know about any other health issues/conditions you may have that could disqualify you for the transplantation surgery.
- Find a reputable surgeon/hair clinic for the surgery. You need to do much research on finding the best surgeon. Different surgeons use different techniques for the transplantation and the cost of the surgery also varies from surgeon to surgeon. Try to find a surgeon that is cost-effective as well as highly qualified and experienced; don't compromise on your health. Personally I would recommend finding surgeons and clinics outside Europe and the USA, because in these countries the high cost of the surgery is due to the tax payment these clinics have to give to the governments. For example a mega session of hair transplantation in USA may cost you $8,000 US dollars but the same surgery will cost you from $1,400 to $1,800 US Dollars in a clinic based in Pakistan, India or any other low cost countries, but you have to be careful about choosing the right surgeon. Usually surgeons from these countries also have a clinic in some European or American countries and will charge you more in their abroad clinics.
- Get an appointment from the surgeon and talk to him/her in detail about the procedure. Require as much information as possible on how the surgeon will carry out the surgery, what method he will use and how much it will cost you. Talk to him if you even need a surgery or that your condition is due to some other factors that could be treated without a surgery. Inform your surgeon about any medications you are taking and about any other health condition you may have, such as diabetes and renal or liver problems. Ask your surgeon how many hair grafts you will need to be transplanted, and whether it will be in one session or multiple sessions. Generally in one session, a maximum of 3,000 grafts could be transplanted, which will cover an area about the size of the palm of your hand with an acceptable density. If you require more than one session, your doctor will inform you about the next session time, which will be in around 12 months time. Your surgeon will check the donor area to determine how much density and how many grafts can be transplanted in one session.
How the surgery is carried out:
- You will meet your doctor one day in advance of the surgery. Your doctor will ask you to undergo some blood tests to ensure that your health is perfect for the surgery. If you are taking any medicines such as anti-depressants etc, discontinue it at least until the surgery is finished and then ask your doctor if you can resume. The surgery will not be more painful than a dental surgery. Your surgeon will tell you the exact time of the operation for the next day.
- Your surgery will take from 4 to 6 hours. You will be given a special dress to wear and the nurse will wash and thoroughly clean your head before the surgery. The surgeon will then mark the area where the hair will be transplanted and you will be able to see it in the mirror. The surgeon will trim the hair from the donor area (the back of the head where the hair to be transplanted are taken from).
- Hair transplantation surgery is done under local anesthesia. This means that your surgeon will inject some drugs in the area where the surgery will be performed which will numb that area but generally you will be conscious and can talk, watch the TV and see the surgery. Local anesthesia will be applied to the donor area and to the area where the surgery will be performed. This will cause the skin of the scalp to swell a little bit which will ease the transplantation process.
- The surgeon will cut a hair-containing strip from the donor area. This strip will be cut with the help of microscope into small grafts containing one, two and three hairs each. This method is called Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and is the most successful and advanced method. Transplantation with this method gives the hair a natural look because the natural hairs also grow the same way (two or many hairs grow from the same spot). The smaller the size of the graft containing 3 or more hairs, the more natural and beautiful the new hair will look. After the strip is cut, the skin of the scalp, which is very elastic by nature, is contracted and stitched.
- The surgeon will cut small cracks in the bald area of the head. The grafts will be planted in these small cracks/holes in the skin of the scalp following the natural hairline. The direction of grafting is very important and will play a major role in the success of the procedure. Talk with your surgeon on this and insist to follow natural look transplantation; otherwise you will end up with hair growing in different directions, giving a doll-head kind of look to your hair. You will have frequent breaks in between the surgery to freshen up and release any muscle strain.
- After completing the grafting, the surgeon will bandage your head for some time to stop any minor bleeding. The doctor will give you some antibiotics and some other anti-swelling drugs to combat any possible infections of the wounds and grafts. After the procedure you can go home, but you may not be able to go to work just the next day, as many of the surgeons would tell you, because after the surgery for two to three days you will have some swelling in the forehead and around the eyes area. This swelling could be reduced by using ice on the swelled area. Your surgeon may schedule another appointment with you after 10-12 days to take the stitches back.
The newly grafted hair will start growing in three to six months time and after the 8th month you will witness a full growth in the grafted area. These transplanted hairs are permanent because they are taken from the area of the head which is resistant to the hormones that cause baldness.
There are some rare complications and side effects associated with transplantation – swelling in the forehead area for two to three days after the procedure, and some pimples and itching skin in the transplanted area. The pimples and itching will eventually vanish on their own after some time.