You've tried everything imaginable: Rogaine, Propecia, shampoos, vitamins and herbs, and nothing has proved successful in controlling hair loss. It's a tough battle to fight, especially when genetics and hormones take responsibility and lead the assault on our scalps and manes. Fortunately, when all else fails, there's hair transplantation – a procedure that not only restores hair, but confidence and self-esteem, as well.
Hair transplant or hair grafting is a procedure that permanently restores hair by surgically transplanting active hair follicles into bald or thinning areas of the scalp. Thousands of live hair follicles are extracted from the back and sides of the head, known as the "donor area", and are transplanted to the "recipient site" or areas where baldness prevails; typically the top of the crown and surrounding areas.
Unfortunately, not everyone is a candidate for hair grafting. Those who suffer with Male Pattern Baldness, or some hair loss due to burns or scalp injury are the best and most successful hair restoration recipients; however, that's not to say these men are the only candidates. So, if hair replacement is of interest, definitely consult with a qualified doctor or clinic for a determination.
The industry has made major strides in the past fifty years or so, since hair transplanting first began. Not only is hair growth better understood, but transplant methods have become more sophisticated and numerous; resulting in smaller, more efficient transplants that boast quicker recovery. The days of the "one size fits all" hair transplant are over, and doctors now have various surgical options to choose from; ensuring a procedure that's tailored to their patient's needs.
Hair restoration surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis with the use of a local anesthetic and conscious sedation for relaxation; although some, more involved cases may require general anesthesia. The average surgery time is 3-8 hours, which is determined by the individual's needs and procedure type. Downtime following surgery is normally a couple days, and is when most men experience the worst of some facial, scalp, and eyelid swelling. On the average, within 7-10 days most redness, bruising, swelling, and scabbing is gone, and between 10-14 days stitches are removed. Recovery time greatly depends upon the type of transplant performed, but most men can expect it to take approximately two weeks.
Many men require more than one transplant session to obtain the amount of hair or fullness they desire. Intervals of two to four months are needed between surgeries, in order to ensure healing and to see actuate results. Unfortunately, not all transplanted follicles survive surgery, which due to hair's growth cycle aren't detectable for several months. A follow up assessment with the doctor will determine the need for further treatment.
As with any medical procedure, there are risks and side effects. Fortunately, medical advances have reduced the severity of both. The most common risks are hair follicle death, scarring, and patchy hair patterns. Typical side effects following surgery are swelling, bruising, numbness, pain, soreness, itchiness, crusting of both the donor and recipient sites, and tightness of the scalp. Pain medication can be used to reduce discomfort during times of need.
Doctors who perform hair transplants are plastic surgeons and dermatological surgeons. Choosing an experienced doctor with a good track record is crucial, since nothing determines the success of hair restoration more than the doctor's qualifications. Make sure the clinic also has high standards in terms of cleanliness, customer care, etc. And don't forget to see the "before and after" pictures of their clients. In addition to selecting a reputable doctor and clinic, it's smart and safe to get more than one opinion.
Hair restoration surgery is cosmetic surgery, which means health insurance does not cover the expense... and expensive it is! Prices vary based on the doctor, clinic, geographic location, and procedure, so shop around, but do not let price be the deciding factor, since we all know we get what we pay for. When pricing treatment cost, be sure to factor in the estimated number of surgeries your doctor anticipates being needed. No one wants to stop midway due to financial restrictions.
I'll close with this interesting tidbit of information... Hair transplants have declined in number over the past few years, despite the advancement of technology. I'm attributing this decline to two factors: a struggling economy, and the "bald" trend that is popular among men of all ages. Not that either of these reasons should influence anyone's choice. Just know there are viable alternatives to a full head of hair should hair restoration not be in the cards. Good luck and good hair!