Of all surgical hair restorations techniques, hair transplantation is the most widely used today. Hair restoration is most needed since hair loss occurs from an inherited tendency for androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Hence, AGA is more accurately described as male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss. Although hair transplantation is mainly done on men, it can surgically be effective for correcting the diffuse pattern of hair loss for women too.
In balding men, no matter how severe the loss, hair continues to grow on the sides and back of the head, known as the fringe. What hair that does remain is coined as the donor dominant hair. Hair in these areas will always grow throughout one’s lifetime since their follicles are controlled genetically in a different manner than those on the top or frontal areas.
Because donor dominant hair is healthy, hairs from its regions are removed and transplanted to the bald areas during hair transplantation. Once this has been done, the dominant hair follicles keep on growing hair. Hence, donor dominance describes effective hair transplantation in a scientific way.
The area that receives donor dominant hair follicles is termed as the recipient area. To be a candidate for hair transplantation, each individual must have an ample amount of dominant donor hair.
As the hair transplantation process is being done, the donor dominant hair is usually harvested by removing it in slices or strips with a special scalpel-like device. Then the follicles are removed from the strip and prepared to be transplanted. Next, the transplant grafts are planted in the recipient areas. The larger the recipient area on one’s head is, the more transplantation sessions are needed. Although this is often done in one to three sessions, some may require more. A time lapse of several weeks occurs between sessions.
Once the hair transplantation process takes place, the physician hair restoration specialist must make two important assessments as to how rapidly and how much of the patient’s hair is susceptible to being lost. A man that has experienced rapid hair loss is likely to require several hair transplantation procedures to be performed over a number of years to avoid greater hair loss than hair growth from occurring. Also, the physician must know that there will be plenty of donor dominant hair available for upcoming transplantations. Hair loss can be retarded or stopped through supplementary medical therapy by using an FDA-approved hair restoration drug such as orally administered finasteride (Propecia®) and topical minoxidil (Rogaine®).
As time goes on, methods of hair transplantation surgery are being augmented. A great number of improvements have been made over the last ten years. The earliest transplants were thought of as “plugs” and “corn rows” of transplanted hair. Nowadays, hair transplantations use mini-grafts containing less than five hair follicles, micrografts of two to three follicles, and single hair grafts. Sometimes plugs are utilized, but only for certain purposes. By using more recent techniques and newer instruments, a physician hair restoration specialist is able to make a natural hair appearance suitable for each individual’s case.
Producing natural-looking hair is what all hair transplantation clinics strive for. Natural hairlines are made by using mini-, micro-, and single-hair grafts since they give the “softness” that is needed. Whether single-hair, mini or micrografts are being used, their graduated placement means an increasing hair concentration from the hairline to the mid-scalp. At the same time, the physicians adapt to new technology in an attempt to achieve the aesthetic results wanted by the patients.
There are unwanted side-effects that stem out of hair transplantation surgery. They range from minor to mild pain and discomfort and are felt a few days after the operation. Swelling and scab formation may occur in more severe cases. Patients may receive medical treatment to control discomfort and guidance on maintaining the scalp. A physician also provides information and recommendations for long-term hair and scalp care to ensure the best appearance for each patient.