Hair graft is a procedure performed in order to supplement hair loss in places where hair has thinned. Hair is transferred from areas of high hair density, most often from the occipital region. Most common indications for hair transplantation are as follows:
- Male androgenetic alopecia
- Female androgenetic alopecia
- Post-traumatic hair loss and scars
- Loss of eyebrows or eyelashes
Male pattern hair loss
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of human hair loss – both male and female. This type of baldness is also known as male pattern hair loss. The symptom of male androgenic alopecia is a gradual loss of hair, starting from the temples. The hair become thinner at the top of the head and, as it progresses, only a rim of hair at the sides and rear of the head may remain. Complete baldness is rare. Genetic predisposition and sensitivity of the hair to changes in androgen levels in the blood have a decisive role in this type of baldness.
Female hair loss
Occurs definitely less often. This is the result of the protective effect of female hormones – estrogens. Hence, most commonly female baldness occurs after the period of menopause. Hair becomes thinner evenly over the entire head and the hairline does not regress. Rarely does it cause hair loss similar to that observed in case of men. In case of women, we usually deal with a different degree of hair thinning in the central area of the head, with preserved hair in the forehead area.
Prior to the beginning of the procedure, we plan the arrangement of the transplants, get acquainted with the patient’s expectations and assess their feasibility. On this basis, we plan the amount of transplants that will be needed. Generally, their type and quantity depend on the color of hair, their thickness and the extent of loss. Subsequently, we examine what type of surgery will be the most appropriate in a specific case, FUE or STRIP, and possibly consider using SAFER devices. All these steps are regularly agreed with the patients and adjusted to their expectations.
Hair transplantation is a safe procedure. Exceptionally, the scalp may become inflamed due to infection. Occasionally transient sensation weakening of the scalp may occur. There may also occur swelling of the forehead lasting 1-2 days following the procedure.
Preparation for the procedure
Avoid taking aspirin and anti-inflammatory medication for 10 days before the procedure. One shall wash the head on the day of the procedure. We recommend shaving the hair before the procedure, which facilitates nursing and reduces the risk of losing the transplanted hair after the procedure.
Hair transplantation is performed under local anesthesia. During administration of anesthesia, one feels a slight pain, may experience acceleration of heart rate and anxiety, which are the result of a small amount of adrenaline in the anesthetic. The adrenaline definitely prolongs the duration of anesthesia and reduces bleeding during the procedure.
The procedure begins with harvesting a strip of hairy skin from the occipital region. Predominantly, it is a strip of skin 1-2 cm wide and several centimeters long (depending on the planned number of transplants). After harvesting the skin strip, the wound is closed using a special technique that minimizes the visibility of the scar. The harvested skin fragment is divided under the microscope into grafts containing 1-3 hairs with the follicles which are then implanted in the recepient area. The time to harvest a skin strip is about 30 minutes.
When it comes to FUE method, individual grafts are harvested one at a time, using a special punch tool with a diameter of 0.8 – 0.9 mm. In this case, we can also obtain grafts containing from 1 to 3 hair follicles. Instead of a single scar, there are slightly visible punctures in the donor area. Subsequent course of the procedure is same as in the STRIP method. The time of harvesting grafts using the FUE method is 2-3 hours, depending on their quantity. The most time-consuming part of the procedure is implantation of grafts into the reception area, which lasts 4 – 6 hours.
Following hair transplantation
The recovery period usually takes 1-2 weeks. After this time, transplant harvesting points are healed and invisible. Hair regrowing in the operated area make it easier to hide small scars. The FUE method allows one to have very short hair without worrying about the traces of surgical intervention. The reception area heals similarly quickly. In the first days after the procedure, special precautions should be taken in order to avoid damaging the grafts and not to cause them to fall out. The scabs that cover the grafts fall off within a week. After a few weeks following the procedure, the transplanted hair falls out. It is only after a few months that hair regrowth is visible. Complete effects of the treatment are visible only one year after the transplant.