We have fair amount of information about hair, however, we still do not know everything about hair. Fortunately, our current knowledge of the hair allows for successful, natural looking hair transplantation results. If you are thinking of having a hair transplant surgery, there are a few things you might want to know beforehand. Many patients have similar concerns and questions regarding their hair transplant, and we will try to touch upon them in this section.
1How does a hair transplant work?
Experiencing hair loss is not a shame. It is very common and natural. There are a number of reasons for hair loss in people. Hair transplantation surgery is often the permanent, lasting, and ultimate choice for having one’s hair back.
Particularly in men, the hair on their scalp – the frontal hairline, and the top are prone to hair loss. This is often due to genetics. Even though the frontotemporal sites are susceptible to male pattern baldness, the sites and the nape/the back of the head are resistant to hair loss. This is their genetic characteristic.
When the testosterone turns into Dihydrotestosterone and shrinks the hair follicles, hair loss occurs. The hair follicles on the back of the scalp are resistant to Dihydrotestosterone.
2Is it someone else’s hair which will be transplanted on my scalp? Whose hair will it be?
If you have an identical twin, their hair can be transplanted to your scalp, and yours can be transplanted to theirs. In the hair transplants of today, the doctors transplant your own hair on the donor site (the resistant site) to the recipient area. It is your own hair. Hair transplantation from another person may lead to graft rejection, and you might have to take anti-rejection drugs for your whole life. This is very risky, and therefore, currently, doctors transplant one’s own hair to one’s own scalp.
The research for transplanting hair from one person to another is ongoing. The researchers are looking for solutions to rejection.
If you know people who have lost their hair, you might have noticed that most of them still have their hair on the back and the sides of their scalp. Fortunately, the hair follicles on these areas of the body do not easily fall. They grow in different phases of male pattern baldness. Though, if you are experiencing hair loss as it happens in women – diffuse hair loss on the whole scalp, then the situation is different. In the case of diffuse hair loss, the transplanted hair may not grow.
Everybody is different. And every “body” is different. You know your body best. Hair transplantation is a medical surgery, and knowing more about it, and your own body will benefit you, and those who help you during the process.
3What is a donor site? Where is it located?
You are your own donor in a hair transplant. If you have male pattern baldness, and still have your hair on the back of the scalp, this area will be your donor site. When you see or hear donor site, think the back your head. The hair on the back of your head is resistant to thinning. Also, the sides of your head can be the donor site.
If you still have hair of enough density, or in other words, if your donor site is suitable, the hair follicles in this site will be extracted, and transplanted to the balding/recipient sites. They will then continue growing in their new place.
4When my hair is extracted, where is it kept (before it is transplanted on my head)?
Your surgeon will extract the hair follicles as units, with the skin and the tissue. Transplantation follows extraction. When they extract the grafts from your head, they will then transplant them to the recipient sites. They will make incisions on the recipient area, and place the grafts in these incisions.
5Does hair density play an important role in hair transplants?
The number of hair follicles per cm2 of your head give your hair density. Some people have naturally thick hair, and more density. If you have dense hair, then more hair grafts can be transplanted.
The flexibility or the looseness of your scalp is also important in a successful hair transplant. Scalp laxity is the elasticity of the scalp. How easily your skin stretches plays an important role. If your scalp laxity and hair density are high, more hair grafts can be transplanted on your balding areas.
6What is the direction of hair? Is it important in a hair transplant?
Our hair grows in a certain direction and at a certain angle. This differs from person to person, and even the different grafts.
Fine hair gives natural looking results. Though the coverage of fine hair is limited. Coarse hair gives a good coverage. Fewer grafts are needed in coarse hair transplantation.
Hair strands with curls or waves also have good coverage as they can cover the scalp on their own. The direction of the transplanted hair has to be in accordance with the extracted hair and the direction of the balding area.
7Are skin and hair colors important in a hair transplant?
If the shades of your hair and skin are not too far from each other, if there is not a huge contrast between them, then the hair transplantation result is better. Those who have dark skin, and curly dark hair like in patients of African origin, the hair transplantation results look great. Also, those who have very fair hair and skin have good results.
Not technically but aesthetically speaking, people who have straight, thin, and dark hair, and a fair complexion pose a challenge for hair transplant surgeons. The contrast between their hair and skin shades is high. And yet, a great hair team will still do a great job no matter how challenging the situation is.
8How many sessions will I need?
Most men need only one hair transplant session. The number of sessions you will undergo depends on your individual hair loss: the extent of it, the rate, the density of your donor site, and your general medical condition. You may need to have others sessions when necessary. Female patients often need more than one session. This is due to density.
You will not need many sessions if you are suitable for the hair transplant.
9How do the doctors decide on the recipient site? Which areas come first?
The hair that covers the top of your head, and the sides of your head are the first recipient sites most of the time because they frame your face, and impact your appearance. If the crown is not your only balding area, it will receive the hair transplantation last.
10What to expect when I am meeting my hair transplant surgeon during my first consultation?
Expect to answer a thorough medical history. Your surgeon will also examine your scalp using a hair densitometer to measure the density. It is good if your surgeon examines your head with one. It will allow them to assess your hair loss better and make a better diagnosis.
Your doctor will then explain to you the hair transplant procedure, your hair transplant design, and give you dates for your procedure. They will tell you about any potential risks and the aftermath of your procedure.
Consult with them regarding any questions and concerns you may have, and remember to let them know about any other illnesses you may have, and your lifestyle.
11What else to consider?
Every hair design is different. Your hair transplant will design your new hair according to your existing hair and hairline. They will consider your hair loss pattern and rate, and plan ahead when designing your hair. Depending on the extent and pattern of your hair loss, they might schedule future sessions – for later months or years according to the progression of your hair loss.
Always ask your doctor any questions you have regarding your surgery. See any pictures of previous patients. Take into account your work situation if you are working. Communicate your expectations well, and discuss if they are possible.