Hair Restoration is a procedure where patients own hair follicles are recycled and replanted into areas of hair loss. Suitable candidates for this procedure are
- Male pattern baldness
- Selected cases to scar alopecia (Scar over eyebrows or moustache)
- Recession of frontal hairlines in females
The techniques of hair restoration have evolved from scalp reduction, mini grafts and micro grafts to follicular unit grafting. The currently favoured technique of 'Follicular unit grafting' can be done by two methods
- Follicular unit transplant (FUT)
- Follicular unit extraction (FUE)
What actually is done in these techniques?
In FUT technique, the one routinely performed in our unit, is performed under local anaesthesia as a day care procedure. A suitable hair line is first marked considering the aesthetic and facial dimensions. Once the patient and surgeons agree upon the location of the new hairline, patients head is prepared and draped. Local anaesthesia is administered and a strip of scalp is harvested with hair follicles from the back of head. The donor area is closed.
The strip is then slivered by a team of trained staffs to yield grafts containing variable number of hair follicles. These grafts are transplanted to areas of hair loss. Patient goes home without any dressing. Transplanted hairs sometimes fall within 2-3 weeks. New hairs will grow from the roots of these grafts within 3-4 months.
In FUE technique with the help of a micro-motor the grafts are directly harvested as follicular units (the slivering of individual follicle from the strip is not required). These grafts are then transplanted in the area of hair loss as described earlier.
Are there any preoperative precautions to be taken?
Usual preoperative instructions are:
- Discontinue all medical treatment for hair fall.
- Avoid cutting hairs four weeks before surgery.
- Patient continues pressure medicines except Ecosprin/Clopilet (consult physician for alternative during perioperative period).
Other routine instructions are:
- Wash the area with betadine scrub twice a day on the day before surgery and on the morning of operation.
- Oral antibiotic is started the prior evening
What precautions do I need to take postoperatively?
- Oral antibiotic, mild steroids and pain relief medications as advised
- First head bath after 4 -5 days with betadine scrub gently removing the crusted blood and mop the head dry
- Sutures at the back have to be removed after 10 days
- Driving is to be avoided on the day of surgery
- Outdoor activity could be resumed after a week
- Hair could be trimmed six weeks after surgery
What are the possible complications?
Like other surgeries the rare complications can be infection, bleeding. There are chances of graft loss, but as every follicle act is an individual graft loss of all grafts is unknown.
How will be the recovery postoperatively?
Slight swelling of the upper half of face for three to four days is expected due to the operation.
There can be numbness on the scalp around the area of operation both front and back that would resolve spontaneously over a period of time.
The scar at the back in FUT will be visible only after complete head shave. FUE leaves no such scars.
When do I get to see the final result?
The transplanted hairs may be in different phases of their life cycle and with the trauma of surgery most of them will fall away during initial 2-3 weeks. Then the new follicles will start growing from the buried roots. Hairs can be seen growing in 3-4 months but the final result will take around a year.
Depending upon the extent of baldness and number of follicles being transferred the density of the transplanted hairs may be different. It may need multiple sessions of grafting before one achieves satisfactory density. This will be discussed with you during the initial consultation.
Does stem cell treatment work to restore hair growth?
Stem cells are being publicised in every possible way to restore many tissues. Recovery and regeneration of hair follicles to the best of current knowledge does not happen after the birth.
In transplant we do not claim to regrow hairs… we merely transfer them from less important/densely populated area to area of baldness.