Most of us don’t think about our locks until they’re gone, just like we don’t think about our health and youth until they’re gone. A hair transplant can often make a person look like they have a full head of hair again, or at least a thicker one.
If hair loss or thinning on top has made you feel bad about yourself, a hair restoration surgery could be the answer. Talk to your doctor about what you can expect from the surgery before it happens.
This is what a hair transplant is.
During this surgery, donor hair is moved to areas of the scalp where there is less hair. Even though the ways doctors do these transplants have changed a lot, they have been done in the US at least since the 1950s.
This is a common surgery that can be done right in the doctor’s office. Before giving you anesthesia at the base of your skull, the doctor will scrape your head. The transplant on your scalp will be done with follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) or follicular unit extraction (FUE).
During FUSS, a surgeon will cut a 6- to 10-inch-long piece of skin from the top of your head. After the wound had been stitched up, the scalp was taken off. Because of the hair around it, this spot is almost impossible to find. After that, the surgical team will cut the scalp strip into 500–2,000 tiny grafts, each of which will have one or a few hairs. The number and type of grafts you get depend on the type, quality, and color of your hair as well as the size of the area being transplanted.
If you are getting FUE, the people doing the surgery will shave the back of your head. The doctor will then carefully pull out every hair follicle in that area. The small spots on your skin that are healing will be hidden by your natural hair.
After that, the next steps are the same for both processes. The surgeon cleans and numbs the area where the hair will grow. Holes or slits are then cut with a knife or needle, and each transplant is carefully placed in one of the holes. They may also need help from other people on the team to put the grafts in place.
The process will take between 4 and 8 hours, depending on how much of a transplant you need. If you keep losing hair or want your hair to get thicker in the future, you might need more surgery.
Being ready and being able to change
Your scalp might still feel pretty sensitive after the surgery. You might need painkillers for a few days. Your doctor will tell you to put a bandage on your head for at least one or two days.
They may also give you a prescription for an antibiotic or an anti-inflammatory drug to take for a few days. Most people can go back to work between 2 and 5 days after treatment.
Between three months and a year after the treatment, new hair should start to grow. During this time, the transplanted hair will fall out for about two to three weeks. Most people will notice that 60% of their hair has grown back in 6 to 9 months. Even though it’s not clear how well minoxidil (Rogaine) works, some surgeons recommend it to help hair grow after a hair transplant.
Treatment Costs and Risks
Most of the time, the price of a hair transplant ranges from $4,000 to $15,000, but it depends on how much hair needs to be moved.
Almost never does it get covered by insurance.
Transplants have risks like bleeding and infection, just like any other kind of surgery. Scarring and hair growth that doesn’t look natural are also possible bad effects.
As new hairs start to grow, some people get folliculitis, which is an infection or swelling of the hair follicles. Antibiotics and compresses could be helpful. Another cause is shock loss, which happens when old hair falls out quickly around where new hair is growing. But it usually only lasts for a short time.
Talk to your doctor about these risks and how long it will take you to get better. They can give you advice on whether or not this is a good idea.