Hair transplantation is a not-so-commonly opted method to counter the effects of permanent hair loss. Since the early 60s hair transplant has been an available method for the regrowth of lost hair, but the results have left a lot to be desired. The technique was not perfect by any means, and for a few decades anyone who underwent the procedure came out looking very unnatural. However, since the 70s the techniques associated with hair transplantation have significantly improved with near-natural results possible in today’s world and age.
So, if you are considering to get a hair transplant here are the most pertinent bits of information to keep in mind.
Planning to Get Hair Transplant? 8 Things To Know
1. Types of hair transplant surgeries available
Follicular Unit Extraction or FUE, and Follicular Unit Transplantation or FUT are the two most common techniques for hair transplants. And both the techniques work.
FUT is the older of the two methods and uses strips of skin with hair on them from your scalp itself to be transplanted in a bald spot. The scarring left behind on the donor site is covered up with new hair. This technique requires much aftercare and is quite a hassle to go through. FUE, on the other hand, is a newer technique and is sufficiently advanced in the technology it uses to get the result. In this method, incisions are made around every follicle unit, which is then transplanted to the balding area. This method leads to very little scarring, and the recovery process takes a lot less time compared to FUT.
People who have larger areas of baldness and like to get it covered in a single sitting may opt for FUT whereas those with smaller areas of baldness and want quick recovery may prefer FUE. Talk to your doctor in detail about the type of hair transplant method that best suits you.
2. Choose the right expert and hospital
Another important consideration to make before starting any procedure is to know about the experts and doctors whom you are trusting for hair transplant. It is a complex procedure that requires a lot of experience and training before one can successfully conduct it. Asking for pictures of their previous clients is an excellent way of gauging how professional and successful they are. Also, having a look at the type of equipment and instruments they use for the procedure is not a bad idea to know about their expertise. Do get clear information about the hospital accreditation and the hospital staff before you choose a hospital or a clinic for your hair transplant procedure.
3. Check if you are eligible for transplant
Many people who are dealing with hair loss and considering to get hair transplantation are unaware of the impact of their ethnicity on the procedure. Patients with African hair type and Asian hair type need experienced doctors to perform the procedures. Both ethnicities have more complex hair types and would get the best results with someone who has already done it before. Also, if you suffer from diseases such as heart problems, uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension, undiagnosed hair fall; trichotillomania (a psychological disorder) or burning, itching or rashes on the scalp, then you may not be fit to undergo a hair transplant. So check with your doctor about the same.
4. May need to do more than one transplantation
Most patients who undergo hair transplant are suffering from pattern hair loss which is a progressive condition that often spreads across the scalp. Once the hair has been transplanted in one area on the scalp, you might experience baldness in other areas. Although this has nothing to decide on a hair transplant because either way, you are suffering from hair loss. But it is important to know the commitment you are making as you may end up having a hair transplant more than once.
5. Types of hair loss which can be treated with transplant
Some people may suffer from hair loss due to a condition called scarring alopecia which affects otherwise healthy men and women around the world. It is a condition that damages the hair follicle tissue completely making hair growth very difficult. However, using the FUE technique in conjunction with 5% Minoxidil solution over a period can help in new hair growth, do check with your clinician for the same. This technique only works if the patient has healthy hair growth in the donor area where the hair is being transplanted from.
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair loss in patches and also stops hair growth. Studies that were conducted to see the impact of topical Minoxidil found that 1% active preparation being used showed considerable hair growth. The study also concluded, however, that the same treatment does not work in alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. So, if you are considering getting a hair transplant because of bald patches, you might be able to circumvent the procedure and use alternative methods. Moreover, your specialist can suggest you the right method.
6. May have to sign a consent form
Although this is common practice for most medical procedures, when it comes to hair transplants it is especially important that you sign an informed consent form. The reason being that it will detail the entire procedure and how long it might take for the procedure to show the result. Moreover, it should also list any additional procedures that might be needed in the future once the hair transplant has been completed. It is important to ensure the standard and quality of the place you choose to get your hair transplant done. If the surgeon you choose does not give you an extensively detailed informed consent form, you might want to reconsider. Make sure you understand the details mentioned in the consent form and in case there is any doubt get it cleared before signing the consent form.
7. May require to take medications as well
There are not many hair loss medications that are approved by the key regulatory bodies around the world. The two most effective and popular ones are minoxidil and finasteride. In case you have not been prescribed medications before opting for a hair transplant, you should ask your surgeon about using medication first. In some cases, both medications have shown positive results in hair growth. So rather than spending so much time and money on hair transplant, it might be easier to consider the medications first for hair loss treatment under clinical guidance.
8. Think and rethink before taking a final call
Any surgeon you go for hair transplant will tell you to really consider the decision for a long time before making the final call. The reason being that it is a long procedure and may not show results in a short span of time. If you want to grow your hair back in a faster way or want quick results, hair transplants are not the way to go. They are expensive procedures that take a long time to work and if you are not completely committed to them or expect immediate results, these might not be the right treatment options for you.
Hair loss is a serious issue that affects many people, men being the most common. A study conducted on 1,005 subjects in India found that 58% of the men had male androgenetic alopecia. About 12.9% of the male population had the condition in the higher grades and would benefit from hair transplants. It should give you an idea of how common hair loss is and that you are not alone in considering hair transplantation. So make an informed choice and weigh all the pros and cons before opting for hair transplant. And if you still have any queries then do write to us in the comments section below.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
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