As you might already know, hair transplants are among the most common treatment options for male pattern baldness (although not necessarily a cost-effective one). It rarely fails as you are your own donor, and is usually recommended if your doctor has established that hair follicles in the bald area have been permanently damaged.
Individual hairs or strips of hair are surgically removed from a part of the scalp unaffected by alopecia, and then used to fill in areas with thin hair or no hair at all. The person who performs this procedure is thoroughly trained and very good at what they’re doing; therefore, the result looks natural and incisions will heal in one or two weeks’ time.
There are two transplantation methods your surgeon can use to achieve this:
- Strip harvesting
- Follicular unit extraction
First, the scalp is cleaned and numbed using a local anesthetic. The surgeon removes a 3-4 inch strip of scalp, sews the area closed (the surrounding hair will immediately cover this up until it’s healed) and then divides it into smaller grafts, depending on the size of the scalp surface that needs to be filled in.
Follicular unit extraction
The surgeon extracts one hair follicle at a time – both the hair shaft and roots – and makes tiny incisions in the bald area, where extracted follicles are to be placed, using a special surgical tool. This is a state-of-the-art procedure that takes longer and is more expensive.
How can a transplanted hair grow?
Some hair follicles (typically those from the back of the head) are genetically resistant to baldness, whereas others are not. DHT-resistant follicles are relocated to the affected areas, where their roots will connect to the scalp blood supply, which means they will be nourished in the same way as before. It’s just like replanting a tree – roots start to receive nutrients from the ‘soil’ if successfully planted.
Can I receive hair from someone other than myself?
Your body will reject transplanted hairs unless your donor is an identical twin. Identical twins have the same DNA, and therefore your body would not treat transplanted hairs as foreign objects.
What to expect after surgery
Roots enter a resting phase after transplantation, so hair might shed during the first weeks after surgery. This isn’t a reason to worry, as hair will regrow considerably in a few months’ time. Depending on the final result and the extent of your hair loss, you may wish to go for an additional procedure.
Some people feel a bit uncomfortable for 3-4 days after anesthesia wears off. Soreness usually improves within 2 to 7 days, and most men feel comfortable in public without a hat on the fourth or fifth day after surgery. Hair transplant should not be noticeable in the slightest, but that also depends on your surgeon’s experience and technique!