Everyone is born with a fixed number of hair follicles, and they produce (or, in the case of increasing baldness, cease to produce) hair for the rest of one’s life.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to baldness. In a majority of cases, going bald is due to genetics. Other causes include:
Over the past decade or so, shaving one’s head is an attractive option. It may be a decision based purely on an aesthetic choice, or it may be a method to avoid dealing with consistently problem hair, “bad hair days” or advancing baldness. Whatever the reason, a shaved head is not the style for everyone, and many people would opt for having a full, natural-looking, thick head of hair.
In many cases, the solution could be a hair transplant which involves taking hair from a donor site—typically the back or sides of the head—and implanting these healthy follicles in thinning areas.
Who is a candidate for hair replacement therapy?
Good candidates for a hair transplant include:
- Men with male-pattern baldness
- Women with thinning hair on top or sides
- Anyone suffering from some hair loss due to burns or an injury to the scalp
Poor candidates for a hair transplant include:
- People without enough hair in potential donor sites to move to another area of the head
- People who have a tendency to form thick, keloid (ropy or fibrous) scars after injury or surgery
- People who have lost their hair as a result of taking medications, such as those used for chemotherapy
- Women whose hair loss is throughout the scalp, rather than more localized
Types of Hair Transplants
There are two popular types of hair transplants:
- Follicular Unit Strip Surgery (FUT)
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Follicular Unit Strip Surgery, or FUT
The basic FUT process involves surgically removing strips of tissue (scalp) from an area that is not balding—typically the back of the head—cutting them into smaller pieces (grafts) and sewing them into pre-made incisions in the scalp where hairs are needed. The follicles in the grafts then continue to produce new, individual hairs.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
The basic FUE process involves removing individual follicles from an area in which there is no balding and inserting each follicle into the desired treatment area. The transplantation of the follicle with the hair fills in the area and, with the natural process of hair growth, replaces the missing hair.
FUT vs. FUE
With FUT, as a strip of scalp is removed, it is normal to expect swelling. This can result in more pain and discomfort than hair restoration with FUE. A vertical scar is left on the scalp which must be hidden with longer hair.
With FUE, follicles can be removed from any location on the scalp so a whole section of scalp does not need to be taken from one area, and overall fullness can be retained. Additionally, as only follicles, rather than a strip of tissue is removed, there is less pain and discomfort; the potential for swelling is reduced; there is no scarring and, subsequently, healing takes less time—usually, just a few short days.
Since the follicles are transplanted, one at a time, and as many as 500 to 2,000 may need to be transplanted, FUE is generally a longer procedure and can take up to eight hours. It is, however, most often done in one sitting. Because it is not nearly as invasive as FUT, FUE is a more popular procedure.
The Hair Transplant Procedure and Recovery
The procedure does not require a stay in a hospital, but is performed in an out-patient facility, using local anesthesia and sedation. You will not feel any pain, but there might be a slight tugging sensation.
Preparing for a Hair Transplant
Your doctor will give you detailed instructions, which may include certain vitamins or other supplements to take, food to eat or not eat, etc. All of these are to guide you, so you experience the least discomfort and the best outcome. Several things will be absolutely necessary, however:
- If you smoke, you will be asked to refrain from doing so for at least two weeks prior to surgery, as well as for a certain period of time after the surgery. This is critical, because smoking inhibits blood flow, which is vital for healing.
- Refrain from drinking alcohol until after the healing is complete. Alcohol inhibits blood flow and can interfere with the healing process.
- Ensure you have transportation home from the procedure. Along with the local anesthetic, you will probably be given some mild sedation, and it would be neither safe nor wise to try to drive yourself home. Depending on the kinds of responsibilities you have at home, you may even want to have a family member or friend stay with you to help in the early stages of healing.
Why Choose Laser Cliniqúe for a Hair Transplant in San Diego?
We have performed hundreds of very successful hair transplants, giving our patients the kind of thicker, more attractive hair that has restored confidence and self-esteem. Call us for a consultation about our advanced hair restoration techniques.
Meet Dr. Ataii
Medical Director of Laser Cliniqúe
P. Alexander Ataii M.D. is the Medical Director and Founder of Laser Cliniqúe in San Diego. He is a skilled skin care specialist who focuses on all aspects of the skin both diagnostic and cosmetic.View Bio