Hair Transplant: Procedure, Recovery, Complications, Results
What is a hair transplant?
During the procedure, the surgeons transfer the hair follicles from the back or the side of your head to the balding area.
Hair transplants are typically performed in local anaesthesia and take several hours, depending on the size of the thinning areas to be covered.
The 2 types of hair transplantation
- FUT (strip method): This involves removing a longer piece from the scalp at the donor area. The surgeon dissects the skin into follicular units and implants them to the recipient area. They close the incision with stitches: the FUT leaves a horizontal scar on the donor area.
- FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction): The surgeon harvests the follicles one by one using a special micropunch. While it does not leave a large, linear scar on the back of the head, it takes longer than an FUT surgery.
Who is a good candidate?
Hair surgeries offer truly transformative, confidence-boosting results.
Generally, you may be an ideal candidate for the procedure if:
- Your hair loss reached at least Stage 2 on the Norwood Scale
- You have been experiencing hair loss for more than 3 years
- Your hair loss pattern has stabilised
- Your hair at the back and sides is dense enough to allow the extraction
What happens during a hair transplant?
Hair transplant procedures are minor surgeries carried out under local anaesthetic and are considered minimally invasive.
The surgeries usually take 6-8 hours to complete, depending on how many hairs you need to be transplanted.
Here is what you can expect on the day of the surgery:
- Your hair will be cut short so the surgeon can see everything precisely.
- The surgical sites will be cleaned and disinfected.
- The surgeon will administer local anaesthesia, lidocaine injections to numb the donor area.
- The hair follicles will be removed from the back and sides of the head.
- The assistants will clean the follicles and prepare them for implantation.
- The surgeon will numb the top of scalp with lidocaine injections. Then, they prepare the tiny incisions on the recipient area.
- Then, they will implant the new follicles.
- The surgeon will clean the surgical sites again and put a bandage on the donor area.
What happens after the hair transplant procedure?
You may experience some soreness in your scalp following your treatment. A clinic may advise you to take medications, such as:
- Antibiotics to combat infections
- Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce potential swelling
In most cases, patients feel ready to go back to work a few days after their procedure. That depends on the nature of the job and the level of physical exertion required.
Two or three weeks after your treatment, your transplanted hairs will fall out. But don’t panic — this is a normal, healthy part of the process as the hairs create room for new growth. Most patients see impressive results within 8 and 12 months.
Possible complications after hair transplants
Modern hair restoration is safe and effective when carried out by a trained and experienced surgeon.
However, they are surgical procedures nonetheless, and as such, even a successful hair transplant has potential side effects.
Luckily, most of these side effects are short term, causing a minor discomfort in the first few days after the surgery.
The potential side effects are:
- itching and swelling of the scalp
- bleeding on the donor area
- folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles)
- loss of sensation on the surgical sites
What are the long-term results?
Your hair should keep growing as normal following a transplant. But the density of the hair can differ due to:
- The quality of the hair
- The hair’s shape (e.g., wavy, curly)
- The looseness of the skin on the scalp (scalp laxity)
- The number of follicles in the treatment area
The only method to effectively restore the density on the bald or thinning areas is hair transplantation.
These procedures will not stop the hair loss, and you may need follow-up treatments in the long run. However, carried out by qualified surgeons, modern methods offer lasting results and high success rates.