Having a healthy head of hair is a given for some and a dream for many. Often a sign of good health, it can make a massive difference to one’s appearance and confidence. Unfortunately, hair loss in both sexes and, in particular, male pattern baldness in men are relatively common. While some learn to embrace it, others don’t, and over time, it can lead to low body image and stress.
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What Is a Hair Transplant?
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure that shifts existing hair to bald or thinning areas to even it out. It’s been around for decades, but the process has been refined over the years. There are two standard procedures – 1) follicular unit extraction (FUE) and 2) follicular unit transplantation (FUT). In FUE, healthy hair follicles are removed from the scalp and placed into holes that are created in the bald areas. In FUT, a section of skin where hair still grows is removed, divided into many small pieces known as grafts, and attached to the bald areas.
How Effective Is It?
Compared to over-the-counter hair loss products, a hair transplant is significantly more effective. However, results vary between candidates. It’s also important to remember that it takes three to four months for 10 – 80% of transplanted hair to grow back. A hair transplant also isn’t beneficial for those with widespread baldness and thinning hair. The same applies for people who have hair loss owing to chemotherapy and medications.
Who Is Eligible?
Eligibility for a hair transplant depends on several factors. You must have good healthy hair that can be transplanted to the bald or thinning areas. These same areas must also be able to grow hair. Your doctor will be able to determine if a hair transplant is the right choice for you after a detailed family history, a scalp exam, and a blood test.
What to Ask Your Doctor
Before rushing into a hair transplant procedure, there are specific questions to ask your doctor.
Hair degrades quickly between the time it’s extracted and transplanted. The more technicians and nurses that work on a patient, the more successful the procedure.
A stereo microscope improves graft growth and reduces hair transection. However, not all clinics use it, so it’s essential to opt for one that does.
While a hair transplant is more effective than other alternatives, it’s essential to rule out non-surgical treatments first. For instance, if your hair loss is caused by stress or an unhealthy lifestyle, it may be smarter to learn to manage both before undergoing a hair transplant.
What Are the Side Effects?
As with any surgical procedure, a hair transplant has specific side effects that you should be aware of. They may include bleeding, inflammation of hair follicles, itching, pain, and loss of sensation in the surgical sites. There’s also a risk of the transplanted hair looking different or not being as lush.
It takes several days after a hair transplant before you can return to work. Around 2 to 3 weeks following the procedure, the transplanted hair starts falling out, and new growth begins in a few months. Your doctor will recommend pain medication and antibiotics as well as medication to stimulate hair growth.
Importance of choosing the right surgeon
It’s imperative to find a qualified, experienced and knowledgeable surgeon. Always look for a certified and licensed doctor who has an extensive portfolio of successful transplants. Ask to see at least a dozen of before-and-after photos of the same patients. Try to get the phone numbers of some of the patients so that you can hear their experience first-hand. You want to make sure that there’s minimum risk to you and that the transplant is as successful as possible. Remember, your health and safety should always come first. Paying a higher price for the services of an excellent surgeon is well worth the cost.