HAIR REPLACEMENT SURGERY
Also Known As: Hair transplants
Hair Replacement Surgery: The Basics
Hair loss is caused by a combination of several factors such as aging, illness, burns, trauma, hormone changes and family history of baldness.
Generally, when a person loses hair early in life, the baldness becomes more severe. This is where hair replacement surgery comes in.
There are several hair replacement techniques available today. However, only four are commonly used – hair transplantation, tissue expansion, flap surgery and scalp reduction.
Hair transplantation involves the transferring of hair from the back or sides to the thinning area. Tissue expansion is a procedure used to expand the skin to the bald spot. Flap surgery is commonly used for covering large areas of baldness. Scalp reduction is used to cover bald spots at the top and back of the head.
Benefits of Hair Replacement Surgery
Regardless of technique used, hair replacement surgery can provide new, natural-looking head of hair to patients experiencing hair loss.
Although the hair replacement surgery will not add any hair to the patient’s head, it provides the appearance of more hair.
The Hair Replacement Surgery Procedure
The procedure of hair replacement surgery will depend on the surgeon’s technique to be used.
Hair transplantation is done with a variable-sized section of living hair follicles from the donor and subsequently transferred by small follicular unit grafts into the patient’s balding area.
Tissue expansion is commonly used for reconstructive surgery in order to repair burn wounds and other skin loss injuries. During this hair replacement procedure, a device called a tissue expander is inserted just beneath the hair-bearing scalp next to the bald spot. The expander is then inflated with salt water, making the skin expand and grow new skin cells over a period of weeks. After two months, when the skin has stretched, another procedure is performed to bring the expanded skin to cover the balding area.
Flap surgery is done by transferring a large portion of hair-bearing skin to the back or sides of the balding area. The size of the flap will depend largely on the patient’s needs. The flap is then brought into a new position and sewn into place. This hair replacement procedure required general anesthesia.
Scalp reduction, also known as advanced flap surgery, is done by pulling the hair-bearing scalp forward to fill in the bald crown. This hair replacement surgery requires local anesthesia because a portion of bald scalp is removed and its surrounding areas are pulled together, and then sutured.
Recovery After Hair Replacement Surgery Procedure
After any hair replacement surgical techniques, the patient should not drink alcohol beverages or take aspirin and ibuprofen.
Strenuous activities such as weightlifting, running and other intense sports could result in losing the newly transferred hair.
After the surgery, slight bleeding may occur. To stop this, apply pressure to the area with a wet towel.
Two days after the surgery, make sure not to wash the newly operated hair to prevent transplant damage. Also, avoid extreme sun exposure and chlorinated water for several weeks.
Patient who will undergo hair replacement surgeries should have an understanding that the procedure is a long-term investment. Patients should give time for their hair to grow.
Most patients with realistic expectation are pleased with the results. In order to maintain natural-looking hair, touch-up procedures should be followed. These procedures vary depending on individual cases. Sometimes, the process involves hairline fillings, blending, slit grafts, mini grafts, micro grafts or a combination of hair replacement techniques.
Surgical facility And Cost
Hair replacement surgeries are usually done in an outpatient surgery center, office-based surgical facility or hospital as an outpatient or inpatient basis.
The costs of hair replacement surgery vary, depending on the technique used, complexity of condition, surgeon fee and geographic location. It is also calculated on various factors such as amount of hair loss, hair characteristics and the amount of hair receded.
Generally, the cost of surgical hair replacement ranges from $4,000 to $15,000. Additional touch-up sessions could cost from $300 to $1,000 per graft.
Side Effects, Risks, Complications and Contradictions
Complications associated with hair replacement surgeries include scarring, patchy hair growth, bleeding and abnormal scarring. Infections and bleeding are possible, but rarely occurs.