Is hair transplant really a thing, and should you go for it?
We’ve all heard much about cosmetic procedures like facelift, rhinoplasty, or even non-invasive ones like lash lifts and extensions that have become mainstream. But hair transplant? There’s always been an air of mystery and stigma around it.
Will it look fake? Does it hurt? What happens during the procedure? Those are some of the questions you may already have if you’re considering it. So let’s get the 411 on hair transplants.
The bald truth about hair transplant
As we get into our 30s and 40s, hair starts to bald or thin. This stage progresses well into our 50s and 60s. There are many reasons for this such as stress, diabetes, genetic or even COVID-19. Getting a hair transplant might seem like the answer but let’s dig deep about what goes on in this cosmetic procedure.
Simply put, a hair transplant is a procedure that takes hair from thicker parts of the scalp (or other parts of the body), and inserting it to the thinning section of the scalp. The procedure itself is considered minor surgery and requires a local anesthetic. A little discomfort and a slight pricking sensation on the scalp may be expected.
Hair transplants are for women, too
Hair transplants are often associated with men as thinning and balding are more common and evident to them. But hey, women can get them as well. Hormonal fluctuations, overtreatment of hair like color and perm, and stress can all contribute to hair loss for women.
Men, due to testosterone levels, typically lose hair in sections or areas. It usually starts above the temples as the hairline recedes. For women, it begins at the center part of the hairline and gradually goes outwards and all over the scalps.
Before the procedure, the surgeon will determine if hair loss has indeed run its course. It is because if a hair transplant is done prematurely, then hair loss will continue and progress. Not everyone experiencing hair loss is also a right candidate for a hair transplant. The surgeon evaluates if there is a stable site on the head to get the hair from.
Hair transplant is also done slightly differently from men and women. A hair transplant for men is done by removing hair at the back of the head. This is the most unaffected area. For women, since hair loss happens in a more diffused manner, the goal is usually restoring volume from the top and the back. Instead of getting hair from an area of the scalp, the surgeon would have to use a special tool to remove individual grafts instead.
The hair transplant procedure
Gone are the days when hair transplant looks obvious like a newly planted patch of grass to a lawn. Some of the best hair restoration doctors have practiced ways to transplant hair that follows the direction and angle of the surrounding strands.
There are two ways to achieve a beautifully restored mane through a hair transplant.
Follicular unit transplantation or FUT
This process takes healthy hair follicles from the donor’s head’s area by extracting a thin layer of the hair-bearing scalp and closing the area with sutures or a row of stitches. The surgeon uses a needle or blade to make small holes in the scalp where hair will be transplanted. Afterwhich, he will then graft or insert the hair into the punctured holes.
Follicular unit extraction or FUE
The second approach does not require stitching, but the hair in the donor area is trimmed. It requires trimming areas of the hair so the doctor can see how the hairs exit the scalp surface and extract individual follicles from the scalp. The same as the FUT, the doctor makes small holes in the scalp and grafts the hair follicles into the holes.
Recovery time for a hair transplant procedure is around 7 to 14 days. Also, according to surgeons, a benefit of FUT is that large numbers of follicle units can be transplanted in just one session compared to FUE. The downside of FUT is that linear scars on the scalp could be visible.
So is it worth it?
Think twice before you go through it. Could something more natural be done? In this case, prevention is always key. You could always inquire your doctor whether a topical drug like minoxidil or finasteride is worth it. However, there are some serious side effects that made people look for alternatives of minoxidil instead.
Here are some ways to prevent balding or hair loss:
Shampoo hair regularly. A clean scalp promotes hair growth. Try a mild or natural shampoo that helps boost and strengthen the hair follicles while keeping the scalps natural balance. You might also want to go for anti-dandruff shampoo while you’re at it.
Go gentle on the styling. If you don’t need to blow dry, don’t. Heat styling tools can damage and thin hair in time. Also, try colorants that use organic or natural ingredients.
Get some vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to balding and hair loss. Take some supplements to stimulate new and old hair follicles for growth.
Use a wide-tooth comb. Best used for wet hair, a wide-tooth comb can easily remove
knots and tangles with minimum snags.
Massage your scalp. Stimulating the scalp stretches the cells of the hair follicles, which promotes thickness. It is also thought to dilate the blood vessels underneath the skin leading to hair growth. Hair serums penetrate the follicles and bring back life to your locks, creating a more luscious effect. Choose one that is not oil-based so your hair won’t look greasy.
The “mane” point
Getting a hair transplant is a personal choice. More often than not, this cosmetic procedure is successful and hair will fully grow back in three to four months. But like regular hair, it will still thin over time. The main thing is to improve the health of your hair as early as you can with some simple practices and natural treatments you can do at home. That way, you’ll always have your crowning glory.