Hair Transplants: What to Expect
Like good health and youth, most of us take our hair for granted -- that is, until they're gone. For most people, a hair transplant can help bring back what looks like a full -- or at least a fuller -- head of hair.
If thinning up or going bald really bothers you, the procedure can be one way to feel more confident about your looks but first talk with a doctor about what you can expect during and after the surgical procedure.
What Is a Hair Transplant?
Hair transplant is type of surgery that involves moving the hair you already have to fill an area with thin or no hair. Doctors have been doing these transplants since the 1950s, but in recent times, techniques have changed a lot. Generally, the procedure includes.
The surgeon cleans your scalp and injects medicine to numb the head. Your doctor will choose one of two techniques for the transplant: follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) or follicular unit extraction (FUE). With FUSS, the surgeon takes out a six to ten inch strip of skin from the back of your head. He puts it aside and sews the scalp closed. This region is immediately hidden by the hair surrounding it. Next, the surgeon’s team divides the strip of removed scalp to 500 to 2,000 tiny grafts, each with an individual hair or only a few hairs. The number and type of graft you get relies on your hair type, quality, color, and the size of the area where you’re getting the transplant.
With the FUE procedure, the surgeon’s team will shave the back of your scalp. Then, the doctor will take out hair follicles one by one from there. The region heals with small dots, which your existing hair will cover. After that point, the two procedures are the same. After he prepares the grafts, the doctor cleans and numbs the area where the hair will grow, creates holes or slits with a scalpel or needle, and delicately places each graft in one of the holes. He’ll probably get assistance from other team members to plant the grafts, too. Depending on the size of the transplant you’re getting, the process will last about 4 to 8 hours. You may need another procedure in the future if you continue to lose hair or decide you want thicker hair.
EXPECTATIONS AND RECOVERY
After the surgery, your scalp may be really tender. You may need to take pain relief medications for many days. Your doctor will have you wear bandages over your scalp for at least a day or two. He may also recommend an antibiotic or an anti-inflammatory drug for you to take for several days. Many people are able to return to work 2 to 5 days after the surgery.
Within 2 to 3 weeks after surgery, the transplanted hair will fall out, but you should start to notice new growth under few months. Most people will see sixty percent of new hair growth after six to nine months. Some surgeons prescribe the hair-growing drug minoxidil (Rogaine) to enhance hair growth after transplantation, but it’s not clear how well it works.
Risks and Costs of Treatment
The price of a hair transplant will depend more on the amount of hair you’re moving, but it generally ranges from $4,000 to $15,000. Most insurance plans don’t cover it.
As with all surgeries, transplants have some risks, including bleeding and infection. There’s also a probability of scarring and unnatural-looking new hair growth.
Around the time new locks start to grow, some persons have inflammation or an infection of the hair follicles, called folliculitis. Antibiotics and compresses can ease the problem. It’s also possible to suddenly lose some of the original hair in the region where you got the new strands, called shock loss. But most of the time, it’s not permanent.
Talk with your doctor about these risks and how much improvement you’re likely to get from the surgical procedure. He can assist you decide if it's a good option for you.
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