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HairlossTalk’s Science Writer, Dr. Deborah O’Neil gives an overview of the hair transplantation process, and some editorial insight into the benefits and pitfalls of such a procedure…
A permanent solution
Hair transplantation is the only guaranteed permanent solution for the reversal of pattern-baldness. You may have come to the end of the road in terms of the options left open to you. The drugs and lotions haven’t worked and as a consequence, you’re left considering surgery as the way forward. So what does it actually involve? How does it work? How will you look following transplantation and will it really be a permanent reversal of your hair loss?
There are actually four types of surgery that can be employed to correct baldness or thinning. The first and most common is hair transplantation or grafting. This procedure involves the removal of live, hair-bearing follicles from the sides or back of the head and transplanting them to the balding areas of the scalp. The next is flap surgery, where a large hair-bearing portion of scalp is partially detached and used to cover an adjacent bald area. Scalp Reduction is another option, in which a section of bald scalp is removed and adjacent hair-bearing sections are sutured together. This surgery can be performed in combination with transplantation to fill in the remaining bald areas. Finally, Scalp Expansion in which silicone implants are inserted underneath the skin to expand sections of hair-bearing scalp, after which, flap surgery can be performed to replace adjacent balding areas of scalp with this extra hair-bearing tissue.
A natural-looking result
The evolution of hair transplant surgery has been such that physicians now produce more natural results with this technique than ever before, from which a larger than ever cross section of thinning or bald men and women can now benefit. Techniques have now been refined such that the hairs available for transplantation are used most efficiently. This is due to a combination of improvements in methods of harvesting hair, graft preparation, the creation of recipient sites in order to ensure maximal survival of transplanted hair.
Transplants are carried out on an out-patient office basis. You’ll be sedated before the process begins (generally with oral, valium-based medicines) and will receive local anesthesia (injections into the scalp). Donor hair at the back or sides of the scalp is first prepared by shaving. Transplanted hair will actually be less than one quarter of an inch in length in order for it to be more manageable during harvesting and graft preparation. This of course, means that you won’t actually see much hair immediately post-transplant. Patience is a big factor in this procedure. Once the anesthesia has taken hold, a scalpel is used to remove an area in the side or back of your scalp around half an inch wide by six inches. The small gap this leaves is then stitched back together. The tiny scar that results will be covered by your natural hair-line and in time, it will be virtually impossible for you, let alone anyone else, to detect where your new hair was grafted from.
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