A hair transplant is a procedure in which a dermatological surgeon moves hair from the back or side of the head to a bald part like the front or top of the head. Hair transplants typically occur in a medical office under local anesthesia.
One of the major causes of baldness (alopecia) is genetics. Other factors responsible for baldness may include stress, diet, illness, and medications.
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There are two types of transplant procedures: slit grafts and micro-grafts. Slit grafts contain 4 to 10 hairs per graft. Micro-grafts contain one or two hairs per graft, depending on the amount of coverage required.
Receiving a hair transplant can improve your appearance and overall self-confidence. Good candidates for a hair transplant include:
- men with male-pattern baldness
- women with thinning hair
- those who has lost some hair from a burn or scalp injury
Hair replacement isn’t good for:
- women with a wide-spread pattern of hair loss throughout the scalp
- people who don’t have enough “donor” hair sites from which to remove hair for transplant
- people who form keloid scars (thick, fibrous scars) after injury or surgery
- people whose hair loss is due to chemotherapy
Hair Transplant Procedure
During a hair transplant, the doctor starts by thoroughly cleaning your scalp, after which he/she will use a small needle to numb an area of your head with local anesthesia. They’ll next use a scalpel to remove a round section of your scalp covered with hair. Then they’ll sew the scalp closed.
The surgeon will separate the removed portion of scalp into small sections using a magnifying lens and sharp surgical knife. When implanted, these sections will help achieve natural-looking hair growth.
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The surgeon will make tiny holes with a blade or needle in the area of your scalp receiving the hair transplant. They’ll gently place hairs in these holes. A surgeon may transplant hundreds or even thousands of hairs during one treatment session.
After the implant, gauze or bandages will cover your scalp for a few days. A hair transplant session can take four hours or more.
Your stitches will be removed about 10 days after surgery. You may require up to three or four sessions to achieve the full head of hair you desire. Sessions occur several months apart to allow each transplant to heal properly.
What Happens after a Hair Transplant?
Your scalp may be sore and you may need to take medications following hair transplant surgery, such as:
- antibiotics to reduce your risk of infection
- pain medication
- anti-inflammatory medications to ease swelling
Most people can return to work several days after surgery.
It’s normal for the transplanted hair to fall out two to three weeks after the procedure. This makes way for new hair growth. Most people will see about 60 percent new hair growth six to nine months after surgery.
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Many doctors prescribe minoxidil (Rogaine) or propecia – a hair growth medication, to help with hair regrowth and to stop future hair loss.
Complications associated with a Hair Transplant
Side effects from a hair transplant are usually minor and clear up within a few weeks. They may include:
- swelling of the scalp
- bruising around the eyes
- unnatural-looking tufts of hair
- a crust that forms on the areas of the scalp where hair was removed or implanted
- folliculitis: inflammation or infection of the hair follicles
- sudden but typically temporary loss of the transplanted hair
What Is the Long-Term Outlook?
Typically, people who have had a hair transplant will continue to grow hair in the transplanted areas of the scalp. The new hair may appear more or less dense depending on:
- scalp laxity (how loose your scalp skin is)
- density of follicles in the transplanted zone
- hair caliber or quality
- hair curl
If you don’t take medication (propecia or minoxidil) or undergo a low level of laser therapy, you may continue to experience hair loss in non-treated areas of your scalp.
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Cost of hair transplant
The cost of a hair transplant is highly variable on a number of different factors, and typically ranges anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000. These costs are often all out of pocket.
The cost of hair transplants is dependent on many different factors. These include:
Where you live: The relative cost of living in the area and the number of nearby surgeons offering the procedure can affect what a surgeon charges.
The type of procedure you choose: The two types of hair transplants – slit grafts and micrografts, has a different cost.
The skill of your surgeon: If your surgeon is considered to be one of the best, they may charge more. However, note that higher rates don’t always mean superior skill.
How much hair you want transplanted: Wanting a few patches added will cost significantly less than wanting to increase hair across the entire scalp.
Travel costs: This isn’t something that your doctor will charge, but it’s still a cost you should consider. Sometimes you have to travel far to find the best specialists, and you should consider these costs when deciding if you can afford the procedure.
How much it costs to recover from a hair transplant
In addition to treatment costs, there are several possible additional recovery costs that you should take into account. These include:
- pain medication during immediate recovery
- anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling at the surgical site
- antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection
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If you experience any complications, the most common of which is infection, you’ll need to treat it. This can be a source of additional expense, including the costs for medications and doctor visits.
Alternatives to hair transplants
If you’re unable to afford hair transplant, there are several nonsurgical alternatives you can use. These remedies aren’t as effective, but they can help.
Alternatives to hair transplants include medications like:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine): This drug is available for purchase without a prescription. It can be used on both men and women.
- Finasteride(Propecia) tablets, which can provide results in treating male and female pattern baldness between three to six months of continual use.
Low-level laser therapy: This can treat hair loss in both men and women by stimulating cellular activity.