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A hair transplant is a procedure in which a dermatological surgeon moves hair to a bald area of the head. The surgeon usually moves hair from the back or side of the head to the front or top of the head. Hair transplants typically occur in a medical office under local anesthesia.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, genetics accounts for the majority of alopecia (baldness) cases. The remaining cases are due to a variety of factors, including diet, stress, illness, and medications.
There are two types of transplant procedures: slit grafts and micro-grafts. Slit grafts contain 4 to 10 hairs per graft. Micro-grafts contain one or two hairs per graft, depending on the amount of coverage needed.
Receiving a hair transplant can improve your appearance and self-confidence. Good candidates for a hair transplant include:
Hair replacement isn’t a good option for:
After thoroughly cleaning your scalp, a surgeon will use a small needle to numb an area of your head with local anesthesia. Next, they’ll use a scalpel to remove a round section of your scalp covered with hair. Then they’ll sew the scalp closed.
The surgeon will separate the removed portion of scalp into small sections using a magnifying lens and sharp surgical knife. When implanted, these sections will help achieve natural-looking hair growth.
The surgeon will make tiny holes with a blade or needle in the area of your scalp receiving the hair transplant. They’ll gently place hairs in these holes. During one treatment session, a surgeon may transplant hundreds or even thousands of hairs.
After the graft, gauze or bandages will cover your scalp for a few days. A hair transplant session can take four hours or more.
Your stitches will be removed about 10 days after surgery. You may require up to three or four sessions to achieve the full head of hair you desire. Sessions occur several months apart to allow each transplant to fully heal.
Your scalp may be sore and you may need to take medications following hair transplant surgery, such as:
Most people can return to work several days after surgery.
It’s normal for the transplanted hair to fall out two to three weeks after the procedure. This makes way for new hair growth. Most people will see about 60 percent new hair growth six to nine months after surgery.
Many doctors prescribe minoxidil (Rogaine) or propecia (a hair growth medication) to improve hair regrowth. These medications also help slow or stop future hair loss.
Side effects from a hair transplant are usually minor and clear up within a few weeks. They can include:
Typically, people who have had a hair transplant will continue to grow hair in the transplanted areas of the scalp. The new hair may appear more or less dense depending on:
If you don’t take medication (propecia or minoxidil) or undergo a low level of laser therapy, you may continue to experience hair loss in non-treated areas of your scalp.
It’s important to discuss the expected outcome with your surgeon and develop realistic expectations.
Written by: Jennifer Nelson
Medically reviewed on: Dec 07, 2015: George Krucik, MD MBA
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