How is a hair transplantation procedure performed?
Your hair replacement or transplantation method will depend on the area that is balding or thinning and what kind of look you are trying to achieve. In all cases, your surgeon will graft (transfer) hair follicles from one area of your body to the area that is lacking hair, usually on the head.
Below outlines the general steps for performing a hair transplantation procedure; however, these steps may vary depending on the method you and your aesthetic plastic surgeon choose.
- Your surgeon will likely use local anesthesia in both the donor and recipient areas. On occasion, your surgeon will add oral or IV sedation. General anesthesia is rarely used.
- The surgeon will surgically remove hair from your donor area (the resulting scar will be hidden by existing hair).
- Your surgeon will divide the removed scalp into hundreds or even thousands of tiny segments, each containing a single hair or several hairs.
- Then your surgeon transplants these tiny pieces into the bald or thinning areas on your head.
A less common hair transplant surgery involves moving hair as a flap of scalp skin that includes hundreds of hair follicles. In this case, your surgeon repositions the removed flap onto the hair loss area, replacing the balding scalp.
A hair transplantation procedure is quite tedious and requires an experienced board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeon who can maintain the integrity of your scalp and minimize trauma. The entire process takes anywhere from two to eight hours, depending on how much hair is being transferred and the procedure method. You may need multiple sessions that span over one to two years to achieve optimal results.
What are my hair transplantation options?
There are several hair transplantation options. Your aesthetic plastic surgeon will evaluate the quality and type of hair you have and where you are losing hair, then determine how much hair to transplant and where to take the hair grafts.
With strip harvesting, also known as follicular unit transplantation (FUT) or follicular unit strip surgery, your surgeon removes a strip of hair, generally from the back of your head, then dissects it into smaller groups to implant into the recipient sites. This is a common method that is faster than harvesting from many different locations. New and surrounding hair will cover the scar left from the removed strip.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
With follicular unit extraction (FUE), your surgeon harvests small groups of hair from a larger area around the head and then implants the extracted hair into the desired site. Because the grafts come from all around the scalp, you will have less bleeding, less postoperative discomfort, and won’t need sutures. FUE scars are scattered; however, your surgeon will need to shave or clip a large area of your hair to perform this method.
With flap surgery, your surgeon removes a section of bald scalp and replaces it with a section of skin that contains hair follicles. This method is ideal for a large area of baldness. Because the skin is intact, hair grows immediately from the area and will not require months to regrow.
Sometimes the surgeon will perform a scalp reduction or advancement flap surgery in addition to or as an alternative to hair transplantation. With this procedure, your surgeon removes a section of the bald scalp and pulls the hairline forward to fill in a bald spot. If more hair is needed, your surgeon may use hair transplantation or flap surgery to cover the remaining area.