An effective way to restore hair is a hair transplant, which takes hair from the back of the head (the donor area) and moves it to the area of hair loss. The transplantation of this hair to a bald area does not change its ability to grow. Donor dominance is the scientific basis for the success of hair transplantation.
Individuals experiencing hair loss, but with sufficient donor hair on the sides and back of the scalp are great candidates for hair transplant surgery. Hair transplantation surgery has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade and allows for very natural-looking results.
The side-effects of hair transplantation surgery are relatively minor consisting of mild pain and discomfort after the operation, swelling which may move down to the eyes, and the formation of scabs over the grafts, which take approximately one week to clear up.
Modern hair transplantation surgery is comfortable, predictable, and provides natural-looking results. Hair loss, however, is a life long process. Most men will develop male pattern baldness (due to male hormones) until approximately 40-45 years of age. After that, the aging process tends to thin the entire head of hair.
Progressive hair loss or the desire for more density will require further transplant procedures. Modern techniques, however, allow hair transplant surgery specialists to transplant a larger number of grafts, greatly reducing the number of procedures needed to complete the result.
What to expect
Before beginning a hair transplant, you will meet and consult directly with Dr. Niedbalski who will review your hair loss history and perform a thorough examination of your scalp. He will discuss various options and work with you to determine the most feasible and effective option to treat your hair loss.
Before you have decided to proceed with your hair transplant, Dr. Niedbalski will review several important concerns:
- Are you in good general health?
- Do you have any bleeding or healing disorders?
- Your age and degree of hair loss.
- The quality and quantity of your donor hair.
- What is your ultimate cosmetic goal?
These are some of the most important issues in deciding whether someone is a suitable candidate for hair transplantation.
Moving forward with a hair transplant
The first step in the hair transplant process is the design of the hairline. Dr. Niedbalski will sketch a suggestion for placement of the hairline on your scalp for your review. Next, the donor area is prepared. Hair in the back is lifted and a narrow strip of hair is trimmed. The hair from above will cover the area after suturing. Both the top and the back of the scalp are then anesthetized. Patients may be given the option of a sedative while the local anesthesia is applied. This is usually the only discomfort you will feel during the procedure, and lasts only one or two minutes.
A narrow hair bearing strip is removed from the donor area and the skin from above and below is brought back together leaving an almost undetectable scar that is concealed by your own hair. The stitches are covered by your hair and removed in about ten days. It is important to note that if you shave your hair in the donor area the scar line may show. From the donor strip, naturally occurring follicular units, usually groups of 1-4 hairs, are separated under a microscope to preserve every follicular unit.
The surgeon next creates the sites where the grafts will be placed. Tiny incisions are made at the hairline for the smallest 1 to 2 hair grafts. As the surgeon works back, he will gradually place larger grafts containing follicular unit groups. This allows your surgeon to accomplish more density without sacrificing naturalness. During the procedure, you will be awake and can chat with the doctor and the staff.
Procedure time is usually between 3 to 6 hours and you may eat or drink during the procedure. When your hair transplant is completed you will be provided with post-operative instructions, medicines and shampoo. You will leave the office with a little or no bandage and will be able to shampoo your hair the next day. Most patients resume normal activity in a day or two.
Tiny crusts will form where the transplants have been placed and usually shed in 4 to 7 days. The small hairs in the newly transplanted grafts normally shed within 2 to 4 weeks after the procedure, and permanent hair growth begins in 8 to 12 weeks. You should expect significant cosmetic hair growth within 6 months and full hair growth within 9 to 12 months. Only one or two procedures are usually enough to treat a specific area of hair loss.
Potential future hair loss is taken into account when any hairline work is performed. The initial consultation between the patient and surgeon helps to individualize the procedure to the patient’s hair quality and density, as well as their expectations.