Is a Hair Transplant?
A hair transplant is a procedure in which a dermatological
surgeon moves hair to a bald area of the head. The surgeon usually moves hair
from the back or side of the head to the front or top of the head. Hair
transplants typically occur in a medical office under local anesthesia.
According to the Cleveland
Clinic, genetics accounts for the majority of alopecia (baldness) cases. The remaining cases are due to a
variety of factors, including diet, stress, illness, and medications.
There are two types of transplant procedures: slit grafts and
micro-grafts. Slit grafts contain
4 to 10 hairs per graft. Micro-grafts contain
one or two hairs per graft, depending on the amount of coverage needed.
Receiving a hair transplant can improve your appearance and
self-confidence. Good candidates for a hair transplant include:
- men with male-pattern baldness
- women with thinning hair
- anyone who has lost some hair from a burn or
Hair replacement isn’t a good option for:
- women with a wide-spread pattern of hair loss
throughout the scalp
- people who don’t have enough “donor” hair sites
from which to remove hair for transplant
- people who form keloid scars (thick, fibrous scars) after injury or surgery
- people whose hair loss is due to medication like
Happens During a Hair Transplant?
After thoroughly cleaning your scalp, a surgeon will use a small
needle to numb an area of your head with local anesthesia. Next, they’ll use a
scalpel to remove a round section of your scalp covered with hair. Then they’ll
sew the scalp closed.
The surgeon will separate the removed portion of scalp into small
sections using a magnifying lens and sharp surgical knife. When implanted, these
sections will help achieve natural-looking hair growth.
The surgeon will make tiny holes with a blade or needle in the
area of your scalp receiving the hair transplant. They’ll gently place hairs in
these holes. During one treatment session, a surgeon may transplant hundreds or
even thousands of hairs.
After the graft, gauze or bandages will cover your scalp for a
few days. A hair transplant session can take four hours or more.
Your stitches will be removed about 10 days after surgery. You
may require up to three or four sessions to achieve the full head of hair you
desire. Sessions occur several months apart to allow each transplant to fully
Happens After a Hair Transplant?
Your scalp may be sore and you may need to take medications following
hair transplant surgery, such as:
- pain medication
- antibiotics to reduce your risk of infection
- anti-inflammatory medications to keep swelling
Most people can return to work several days after surgery.
It’s normal for the transplanted hair to fall out two to three
weeks after the procedure. This makes way for new hair growth. Most people will
see about 60 percent new hair growth six to nine months after surgery.
Many doctors prescribe minoxidil (Rogaine) or propecia (a hair growth
medication) to improve hair regrowth. These medications also help slow or stop
future hair loss.
Are the Complications Associated with a Hair Transplant?
Side effects from a hair transplant are usually minor and clear
up within a few weeks. They can include:
- swelling of the scalp
- bruising around the eyes
- a crust that forms on the areas of the scalp
where hair was removed or implanted
- numbness or lack of sensation on the treated
areas of the scalp
- inflammation or infection of the hair follicles
- sudden but typically temporary loss of the
transplanted hair (called shock
- unnatural-looking tufts of hair
Is the Long-Term Outlook?
Typically, people who have had a hair transplant will continue to
grow hair in the transplanted areas of the scalp. The new hair may appear more
or less dense depending on:
- scalp laxity (how loose your scalp skin is)
- density of follicles in the transplanted zone
- hair caliber or quality
- hair curl
If you don’t take medication (propecia or minoxidil) or undergo a
low level of laser therapy, you may continue to experience hair loss in
non-treated areas of your scalp.
It’s important to discuss the expected outcome with your surgeon
and develop realistic expectations.