Hair transplants provide a long-lasting solution to thinning hair. However, they’re not a cure for baldness.
Medical practitioners harvest sections of hair-bearing scalp called grafts from the safe zone on the back and sides of the head.
Advances like Sapphire DHI implanter pens allow for more precise hairline placement and natural-looking results.
How Hair Transplants Work
What is a hair transplant? Hair transplants move healthy hair follicles from one area of your scalp, where your hair is thicker (the “donor” area), to bald or thinning areas. The procedure creates natural-looking results that blend well with your existing hair. This type of surgery is typically performed by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon specializing in cosmetic procedures.
During the process, your doctor will clean and numb the back of your head (the donor area). They may use medicine to help you relax during the procedure, and you can take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or paracetamol if needed.
Your doctor will then remove a strip of skin from the back of your scalp with a scalpel. They will then separate it into tiny sections, each containing a few or a few dozen healthy hair follicles. These are called follicular units. The surgeon will either sew the strip closed or create a two-layer closure. It will depend on the surgeon’s preference and the size of the grafts being transplanted.
Your surgeon will then prepare the bald or thinning areas of your scalp for hair transplantation by cleaning them and creating small holes or slits with a scalpel. They will implant the healthy follicles into these holes or slits using a needle, blade, or a scalpel. The procedure can be lengthy, and depending on the size of the hair transplantation, you may need several sessions.
Hair transplantation is one of the most reliable methods to restore thinning or balding hair. It moves healthy follicles from the back of your scalp, which is naturally dense and resistant to thinning, and relocates them to thin or balding areas. It creates a natural, fuller look that grows as you age.
The transplanted follicles also produce the natural oils that keep them healthy. It means you will not need expensive shampoos or products that promise unrealistic results. Hair transplantation is a permanent solution that works better than other solutions, which require regular sessions with a specialist surgeon to achieve their desired results.
There are some risks associated with hair transplantation, but most of these are minimal and easily treated by over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Your doctor will discuss the risks with you and provide information about how to prepare for your surgery. For example, it is essential to avoid smoking and consuming certain medications before your procedure. In addition, it is crucial to avoid direct sunlight after your operation. These precautions are necessary to ensure a quick and smooth recovery. However, staying positive and trusting in your surgeon’s experience is essential to your rescue. It will ensure you receive the best results and a successful outcome.
Many patients are encouraged to see a surgeon’s before-and-after photos of previous hair transplant recipients before making an appointment. However, prospective patients should know that before-and-after photos can be airbrushed or manipulated. Looking at multiple pictures and paying attention to the details (especially in the hairline) is essential. Physicians often use lighting, angle tricks, or even Photoshop to make the results look more appealing than they are.
It’s also essential to compare hair transplant before-and-after photos in nearly identical conditions (same lighting, same background, same angle, etc.). Hair density is another factor to consider. Hair should always appear full and dense in before-and-after photos—never wet or gelled. It’s important to note that hair restoration is a gradual process, and new growth may be visible only after a few months of healing.
Today’s hair transplant procedures have advanced significantly compared to the unnatural doll-like hair plugs used in the 70s and 80s. Thanks to advances in follicular unit extraction, graft placement, and hairline creation, doctors can create natural-looking new growth that would be hard for a barber or stylist to notice.
For example, procedures utilize a unique technology called follicular unit extraction that can be used to restore not only the scalp but also eyelashes, eyebrows, beard hair, chest hair, and pubic hair. With this method, patients can experience natural-looking new growth with minimal scarring.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks to hair transplantation. Complications can include infection, excessive bleeding, or scarring.
The risk of infection is shallow when a qualified surgeon performs the surgery in a clean, sterile environment with a skilled team that follows medical guidelines. Nevertheless, all surgical procedures carry a certain degree of risk, and individuals vary in their physical reactions to anesthesia, so there is always a chance for complications.
Other possible complications include the failure of the transplanted follicular units to grow, poor graft density, or a scar in the donor area. These issues can occur because of poor graft selection, a poorly designed transplant, or a patient with an unusual reaction to the anesthesia. However, these problems are quickly addressed by a knowledgeable surgeon.
These patients should be encouraged to try medical therapy with finasteride, minoxidil, or low-level laser treatment before considering surgery. This approach will likely yield better results and may prevent the patient from pursuing multiple surgeries that ultimately achieve suboptimal results.