Anyone who wishes to undergo a Hair Transplant procedure usually has a lot of queries in their mind before they finally decide to get the procedure done. I had gone through the same process when I was suffering from hair loss and was desperately looking for solutions to regrow my hair. Today, when I have gone through the procedure, I thought of writing my experience and address some of the frequently asked questions that come to a patient’s mind before a hair transplant procedure.
When I was dealing with a solution to my male pattern baldness, I was looking at various treatments and I came across hair transplant as a procedure, I wondered if it is a viable treatment or not. How does the treatment work and is it suitable for my hair type. As I addressed one question after another, I finally concluded that it makes sense to get the hair transplant done. In the interest of readers, I have classified my queries based on my journey.
What are the different types of methods available for Hair Transplant?
There are two different types of techniques available in the market:
1. Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT): This was the first method of hair transplant surgery to yield natural results as each follicular unit was transplanted one by one into the recipient balding areas. While this is an old method today, yet some doctors still practice it. In FUT, a strip of scalp is removed from the back of your head. Patients are left with a linear scar, a tighter head and a painful healing time of at least 4-6 weeks. FUT is easier for doctors to perform as the entire strip can be dissected under a microscope by assistants and this entails minimal time.
2. Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE): In this procedure, each follicular unit of hair is removed one by one directly from the head (not a dissected strip which is done in FUT). The process is time-consuming and requires much skill from the doctor to extract and implant. FUE is best for you as the patient as you will have no linear scar and minimal pain and downtime.
Am I a suitable candidate for hair transplant?
The quality and quantity of donor's hair (your hair in this case) will determine whether you are a good candidate for the surgery. This is evaluated along with other parameters like age and the progression of your hair loss.
What is the difference between a graft and a hair and how does this influence the cost?
There are hair surgeons who will charge per graft and others charge per hair. This is something that all of you need be aware of. A graft, also known as a follicular unit can contain anywhere between 1 to 4 hairs. The international standard is to charge per graft and not per hair. If you pay per hair, then you will end up paying a lot of money and get a transplant of a limited amount of hair within your budget. Therefore, it is advisable to pay per graft.
When will I see results?
Your hair goes through different growth cycles. Approximately 2-6 weeks after the transplant, the transplanted hair shafts will fall out which is completely normal. However, the root will remain. 4 months’ post-surgery these roots will start growing. You will see the first changes after around 6 months and final result by 1 year.
Are there any follow-up appointments?
Depending on the number of grafts, the transplant may take few sittings. Post completion of the procedure, the doctor would like you to come in the next day to redo the dressings and wash your donor area for you. If you require any advice or need to show the condition of your scalp, then you should seek your doctor’s appointment. Your doctor usually will not charge for such follow-ups.
Are there any scars?
The benefit of FUE is that there is no linear surgical scarlike in FUT. The results are natural and people won’t know that you have had surgery. In a very small population group, the donor area may scar and there will be white dots where the hairs were removed. These are hardly visible, especially when the hair has grown to a “number 1 or 2” haircut.
Do I need to repeat the procedure after few years?
Transplanted hair is permanent and will not fall out (in the absence of serious medical conditions). The doctor will assess you during the consultation and advise accordingly.
What do I need to do in preparation for my hair transplant?
Your doctor will advise you at the time of confirmation of procedure regarding dos and don’ts. If you have a medical condition and you are taking medication, then your doctor may advise you to stop them temporarily. Blood-thinning medications are usually stopped by doctors before the procedure. Your doctor will also recommend stopping smoking and alcohol and as it may react with sedation drugs. It is not recommended that you drive after the procedure due to the sedation drugs, so you may need to organize someone to pick you up or clinic may also organize transport for you.
Do I need to take time off work?
Yes, most people are back to their normal routine after day 2, as pain is minimal and healing rapidly. The main concern for most patients is discretion. For the transplant to be completely undetectable, it is advised to take about a week off for the scabs to fall off completely and you will look like you just shaved your head. If discretion is not a concern, then you will be able to do most activities the next day.
How long will the procedure take?
On an average, the procedure may take up to 8 hours. This depends on the number of grafts being transplanted. Your doctor will be able to give you accurate information on consultation.
What happens after the surgery?
After surgery, your head will be bandaged. You will be given a small pack of medications, shampoo and printed instructions, which will be self-explanatory in detail. Your head will be numb and therefore you must be very careful not to bump it.
How should I sleep after the procedure?
You can sleep on your side or back with your head raised at a slight angle. If possible, avoid pressure over the new hairs in the transplanted area. Lying in the donor area is no problem.
What about washing my hair?
You will be given full detailed instructions with your post-op pack. You do not wet or wash your hair on the day/evening of your procedure. If you can, you are encouraged to go the next day so your clinic can do the first wash and show you what to do for future washes. Start washing your hair after 48 hours, after day 3 start taking a shower twice, morning and evening.
When can I dye my hair?
There is no precise studies or evidence regarding this question but due to harsh chemicals and risk of allergies or burns, it is recommended to stay away from dyeing your hair till your doctor gives a go ahead.