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A hair transplant is a cosmetic surgery option to people who are dissatisfied with hair loss due to “common baldness.” Common baldness is an inherited trait that causes permanent hair loss in both men and women, though it affects the former more frequently. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, almost 50,000 people underwent hair transplant surgery in 2004. This is nearly a 50 percent increase from the previous year. Due to tremendous advancements in hair transplant techniques, this procedure is rapidly gaining popularity amongst those affected by permanent hair loss.
As with any cosmetic surgery, good candidates for hair transplant surgery should be in good physical and psychological health, have realistic expectations, and learn as much about the procedure and their prospective surgeon as possible. It is important to understand what to expect during and after the procedure and what the limitations are of a hair transplant. Total or near baldness is not a pre-requisite for hair transplant surgery. Individuals at all stages of hair loss may benefit from this procedure.
During a hair transplant, a qualified cosmetic surgeon will take hair-bearing skin from the back or side of the head and surgically move it to the area of hair loss. When the donor skin is removed it is sectioned into very small grafts which can be deftly inserted into the area of hair loss. In patients with patterned baldness, the areas of hair at the side and back of the head are not typically subject to hair loss. Thus, these areas are a terrific source of hair-bearing skin during a hair transplant procedure. When this section of the hair is relocated, it is usually able to continue to grow hair, consequently mitigating the appearance of baldness or hair loss.
Due to advances in hair transplant technique, the grafts used for this surgery are extremely small. Traditionally, the average size of a graft was four to five millimeters and contained approximately five to ten hairs. Now, micro-grafts and mini-grafts can create an even more natural look, with grafts containing only one or two hairs. During hair transplant surgery, these tiny grafts are inserted into small incisions in the scalp to match the hair’s natural direction.
Hair transplant surgery is performed on an outpatient basis in a hospital, surgery center, or doctor’s office. A patient is typically given a general anesthetic before this surgery. The initial recovery period after hair transplant surgery is a few weeks during which time dressings may be used, stitches many be removed, and swelling and bruising begin to subside. As with all surgical procedures, hair transplant surgery is associated with some risks and drawbacks.
Approximately six weeks after hair transplant surgery, the new hair will fall out. This is normal. New permanent hair will re-grow six to twelve weeks after surgery. Touch-up procedures are not uncommon to ensure that a patient achieves his aesthetic goals. If you would like to learn more about hair transplant surgery, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon in your area.