Hair transplant (or hair restoration, hair implants) is a hair replacement treatment for men and women. The procedure permanently restores hair by transplanting new follicles into balding or thinning areas. Hair transplants correct male-pattern baldness and other forms of hair loss.
Hair restoration surgery usually takes a full day and is performed under local anesthesia and sedation, although some cases may require general anesthesia. In this surgery, healthy hair follicles are removed from the back and/or sides of the head, and transplanted to areas where hair loss is occurring.
Surgery usually involves transplanting follicular units (the natural bundling of hairs as they grow in the scalp), with each unit containing one to four hairs. The most common technique is “strip harvesting” (sometimes referred to as follicular unit transfer, or FUT), which involves removing a single strip of the scalp where follicles are plentiful (the “donor site”) and then cutting out the follicular units to create grafts for transplanting.
Another increasingly common technique is follicular unit extraction (FUE), in which each follicular unit is removed one at a time–a more time consuming process, but one that avoids the linear scar from the donor site. It can result in tiny dots on the back of the head that can sometimes be visible if the head is shaved. FUE is usually chosen by men, particularly those under 30 who may wish to shave their head, and by African Americans.
The average number of individual grafts needed depends on the patient; anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 grafts is possible in an average day of surgery.
Your recovery time will depend on the extent of the surgery. Most patients report mild pain, numbness and soreness; this can be controlled with pain medication prescribed by your surgeon. It is common for hairs from the transplanted follicles to fall out in the first month and then regrow. Within 4 to 5 months, they should be growing normally in their new location.
Complications with hair transplant surgery are relatively uncommon. Potential hair restoration side effects may include scarring or uneven hair growth. If the results of the surgery are patchy or if the follicle grafts don’t establish well at the new site, your surgeon may wish to perform a follow-up surgery to correct scarring or to transplant more follicles to fill in thinner areas.