Don't Lose Your Hair Over It!
With summer here, we crave that lush, full, luxurious head of hair more than ever for those sunny beachside shots. But for many who are follicularly challenged, it’s simply not an option. People try to take the best possible care of their hair, using the right products and vitamins and eating the right foods, only to discover their once-lustrous hair is now a thing of the past. Perhaps it comes as no surprise then, that more people are now considering hair transplants to help regain the hair that has been lost due to thinning and balding associated with age.
Today’s hair transplants bring to the scalp what plastic surgery brings to the body – an option to alter or enhance something we’re not entirely satisfied with. Once a donor site is found, typically in the back or sides of the head because they are known as the “permanent” areas of hair growth and are not susceptible to the dihydrotestosterone and other drivers of pattern baldness, healthy hair is grafted from that area and transplanted to the bald or balding part of the scalp. Bear in mind that anyone considering this procedure should time their hair transplant for after they’ve already lost the majority of their hair, otherwise you run the risk of having to repeat the procedure in the future. Men with genetic hair loss are usually good candidates for hair transplants because about 80-90% of men have thick hair on the back of their head that grows well when moved to the front. A trained doctor can determine what your hair loss pattern is and whether or not you’re a good candidate when you go for a consult. Something else to consider is whether or not you have a decent supply of donor hair to begin with, typically women who suffer from genetic hair loss have poor quality donor hair because the hair is too thin. But more on that in a moment.
Who would be an candidate for hair transplants? “Hair transplantation is not to be used just to thicken up the average person’s hair,” cautions Dr. Jack Fisher, a Nashville-based board-certified plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist. “There must be gaps between the hairs large enough to safely put in the transplant without damaging the existing hair. Many women, as they age, experience natural thinning of hair. In some cases, the thinning may be significant enough to substantiate transplantation – and in other cases there might be alternative treatments like lasers that might be more appropriate just to thicken slightly thinning hair,” says Dr. Fisher.
During the hair transplant process, hair is harvested usually from the back of the head near the neck using either the follicular unit extraction (FUE) or follicular unit grafting (FUG). This involves strip harvesting, flap surgery and scalp reduction, says Dr. Fisher. “The hair is transplanted using one or two follicles at a time in order to give a natural result. This hair is typically permanent once it is transplanted if the correct donor hair is used,” he explains.
“Downtime is usually a few days to a week. If the hair loss is continuous post-procedure, another transplant may be necessary. If the hair loss is a single episode one procedure may be enough,” Dr. Fisher explains.
It is common to shed transplanted hair in the weeks following hair transplantation; however, don’t be alarmed because the new hair will start to grow in place of the original transplanted hair. The shedding occurs because during the procedure the hair graft is temporarily stripped of its blood supply.
If your receding hair line is bothering you, consult with a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) who has experience performing hair transplantation. Use the ‘Find a Plastic Surgeon’ tool to find a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area.