What do we mean by hair transplanting?
Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure in which hair from normal areas of the scalp, such as back and sides, is moved to the bald area.
Does it really work – has it been proven?
Yes. For over 40 years, work has been done on this procedure. In properly skilled hands, it has been most successful.
In what types of baldness is the procedure helpful?
Hair transplantation is helpful in dealing with male pattern baldness. It is also successful in treating baldness as a result of scars from burns, accidents, operations, and in some cases, radiation.
How long will the transplanted hair last?
Transplanted hair should last a lifetime or at least as long as the hair remains in the region from which the transplants were taken. This conclusion is based on the continued growth of hair examined 40 years after the first hair transplants were performed.
How is this procedure performed?
The donor area, or back of the scalp, and the bald areas are anesthetized by the use of a local anesthetic similar to that used by a dentist. Strips of hair-bearing tissue are then removed with a special instrument. Next, small plugs are removed from the bald areas and discarded. Hair transplants are properly prepared and carefully placed into the previously prepared regions over the bald area. A protective bandage is then applied.
Is this a painful procedure?
As a number of patients have said, “The discomfort is no more than going to the dentist”. The use of a local anesthetic permits painless removal of the small transplants. Momentarily, the local anesthetic produces a mild discomfort. Seldom is there any pain after the procedure. However, any discomfort that may occur after the procedure is generally very mild and readily relieved by analgesics. Because “twilight” anesthesia is used in many cases, most patients have amnesia to their surgery and complain of no discomfort.
How has this procedure been accepted by patients who have it?
Acceptance has been excellent, especially by those who have pursued hair transplantation to its conclusion. This usually requires multiple sessions.
How many visits to the doctor will be necessary?
This varies with the individual patient, depending mainly upon the size of the bald area and the number of transplants performed at each visit. The number of transplants can be reasonably well established at the initial consultation.
Can the transplanting procedure be accomplished at intervals of 3-6 months apart?
Yes, it can be done in stages to suit the patient. Again, this depends upon the individual’s desire and the amount of transplantation necessary. Some patients may require a small number of transplants where the longer intervals may be satisfactory. However, in the larger areas of baldness, suitable cosmetic results are best accomplished in as rapid, continuous, and carefully planned series of procedures as possible. We usually recommend staged procedures at 3-4 month intervals.
How much time is required for each session of hair transplant?
This varies with the amount of transplantation done, but usually takes approximately one hour or so.
Where should the hairline be placed?
This is a matter of individual preference, but based upon our experience, we make suggestions, depending upon each patient’s degree of baldness, their age, facial shape, and the amount of hair available at the donor site.
Shall I have a haircut immediately before the procedure?
No, the longer the hair, especially in the donor site, the less conspicuous the area of treatment will be.
How should a patient prepare himself for the procedure?
Very little preparation is necessary. We suggest to our patients that they shampoo their hair the evening and morning before the procedure, eat a light breakfast (toast, coffee, and juice), but avoid over-indulgence of food or drink before coming to the Center. If they are having a twilight anesthetic, the anesthesiologist may give them more specific instructions regarding oral intake, which might differ.
What should the patient do when he leaves the Center?
Patients usually resume their normal activities, unless this involves strenuous physical exertion, within three days. Usually bandages remain in place until the following morning. Combing, brushing, or any disturbance of the site should be avoided except as directed by the doctor for the first several days following surgery. General shampooing with baby shampoo is permissible at two days following surgery.
Will my insurance cover this procedure?
If hair loss is a result of an accident or disease, insurance may cover. However, in the great majority of cases, hair restoration surgery is considered cosmetic and is not covered by insurance. It is always best to consult with your insurance company concerning this matter.
How much does hair restoration surgery cost?
This again varies with the individual depending upon the extent of hair loss. Generally speaking, this procedure is no more expensive than a good hairpiece, which would cover the same area. Transplants are usually billed on a per-graft basis.
Can the patient be put to sleep and the transplantation done in the hospital?
For most patients, the procedure is done in our Cosmetic Surgery Center and has proven to be much less expensive, more convenient, and without some of the risks or complications that can be associated with a general anesthetic.
What disorders or medical conditions of the patient should a physician know about?
The patient should tell the surgeon about any disorder or physical condition he has; especially heart problems, high blood pressure, anemia, bleeding abnormalities, epilepsy, drug reactions, or allergies of any type. It is important for the patient to realize that this is a procedure for those in good health. We recommend that you see your personal physician for a checkup prior to surgery.
Are there any complications from this procedure?
In our experience, this has been infrequent and minor. However, as with any operative procedure, complications are always possible. Complications can include anesthetic risks, bleeding, infection, wound healing, scar formation, pigmentation changes, injury to muscles and nerves, lack of hair growth, or the need for additional surgery. Fortunately, these complications are very rare; however, they always need to be considered.
Can a toupee or hairpiece be worn after the procedure?
Yes. This often serves as a protective shield and an excellent cosmetic screen. In extensive cases of baldness where there is inadequate donor hair to cover the area, transplanted hair may be used as a frontal hairline to enhance the natural appearance of the hairpiece for a more acceptable cosmetic result. However, one needs to be careful that the hairpiece does not rub or irritate the newly transplanted grafts.
Will there be visible scaring over the front of the scalp?
As with any cosmetic surgical procedure, if the patient is closely examined, one may be able to detect scar lines. In our experience, this has not been a problem or a cause to deter a hair replacement procedure.
What about the donor site from which the transplants were taken?
After the transplants are removed, the individual donor sites shrink and usually results in a small linear scar that is camouflaged by the surrounding hair.
What causes baldness?
The most common baldness is hereditary male pattern baldness. Relatively few cases of hair loss are caused by scalp disease or tumors. Hereditary male pattern baldness results from an inherited tendency to lose scalp hair at a certain age, providing the male hormones are present in the bloodstream. Hair around the sides of the head ordinarily remains for a lifetime and, if the hair is relocated, it usually continues to grow in its new location.
Is there any good, non-surgical treatment for male pattern baldness?
No adequate treatment now exists, but medical researchers are actively investigating this area. While certain topical and oral medications are available, they are not uniformly effective, and the results they provide may vary widely.
Will I continue to lose hair?
It is difficult to predict, but since the transplanted hair comes from the areas where hair would ordinarily continue to grow through one’s lifetime, you should not lose a transplanted hair. Hair loss generally continues throughout life and hair restoration procedures do not prevent ongoing hair loss from occurring.