Hair Transplant Information

Hair transplant treatment is available to treat baldness in men and women when more conservative approaches, such as medications, fail. The transplant procedure is the same for both genders.

Hair transplant surgery is performed on an outpatient basis with the patient mildly sedated and injected with a local anesthesia. The scalp is shampooed and treated with an antibacterial solution. The surgeon chooses an area of good hair growth on the back of the scalp and harvests a small strip of skin from this donor site. 

While the surgeon closes the resulting wound, an assistant dissects grafts from the strip. These tiny plugs of bald-resistant hair follicles, known as follicular units, contain 1 to 4 hairs each. Working with binocular microscopes, the assistant carefully removes excess fibrous and fatty tissue while trying to avoid damage to the follicular cells that will be used for grafting. While large plugs and mini grafts were once used for hair transplantation, todays techniques use larger numbers of smaller grafts. The result is a more natural appearance. These follicles will typically continue to grow hair for a lifetime because they are genetically resistant to going bald.

Using a fine needle to puncture the transplant sites, the surgeon places the grafts in a predetermined density and pattern. The wounds are angled to promote a realistic hair pattern.

When the procedure is over, semipermeable dressings that allow seepage of blood and tissue fluid are applied to the site. These are changed daily postsurgically. The patient is allowed to shampoo a day or two after surgery, depending on the surgeons instructions. Shampooing is important to prevent the formation of scabs, which adhere to the hair shaft and increase the risk of losing the newly-transplanted hair follicles during the earliest days of recovery.

Shock loss occurs during the first week or so after surgery. This is when the transplanted hairs, traumatized by the procedure, fall out, but the follicles do not die. New hair grows from the follicles after 2 to 3 months. The hair will continue to grow normally over the next 6 to 9 months.

Hair loss progresses over time, so several transplant sessions may be needed. This can result in hair transplant costs that are considerable; rates are calculated on a per graft basis.

In addition to being painful, hair transplantation also carries certain risks, including infection, scarring, hair thinning, bald patches, swelling, itching, and dissatisfaction with the final results. It takes at least 6 to 8 months before the quality of the new hair can be properly evaluated.

If you are considering hair transplantation, choose only a board-certified dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or cosmetic surgeon to perform the procedure. At your consultation, he or she will confirm the cause of your hair loss and review all treatment options nonsurgical and surgical with you.

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