There are a number of temporary treatments for thinning hair and hair loss but for the more severe cases the most successful form of treatment is hair transplant. Whether the person suffering from hair loss is male or female modern techniques make hair transplant an effective alternative to going bald. Hair restoration surgery has been criticized since the first procedure took place in America in the late 1950s.
The main criticism of the procedure has been that the results do not look natural. There are many reasons for unnatural looking results but the prognosis for balding people is good. Modern techniques have developed greatly and now provide results that are so good that hairdressers fail to notice that surgery has been performed. This article is a guide to the surgical procedures that are involved in hair restoration surgery.
Hair transplant surgery can offer a long term solution to hair loss worries. It is important however to recognise that the procedure does not increase the amount of hair on the head but instead re-arranges the existing hairs. It involves removing parts of the scalp that contain hair that is growing, usually from the back of the head, and distributing these hairs in areas that have less growth, usually the front or top of the head.
These skin grafts retain the ability to grow hair and will continue to produce hair wherever they are placed. The end result is dependent on the skill of the surgeon.
The most natural looking results depend on the surgeon using small grafts, between 3 and 6 hairs, and placing them in small slits or pinholes in the recipient area. The greater the number of small grafts the better the results. Modern techniques are sophisticated enough to extract single hair follicles for transplantation. Small grafts require the surgeon to perform more incisions and take more time. As a result of this the procedure can become expensive.
The hair transplantation industry has been criticised in the past for taking short cuts to increase profits. It is important that you avoid crude techniques because these can result in undesirable results. The Punch Graft technique was a technique used in the 80s to harvest donor hair from the back of the head.
The surgeon would remove small circular clumps of hair that were about the size of a pinhead from across the donor area. The theory was that taking small grafts from a large area would be unrecognisable as it would look like the hair was just thinner in this area. However surgeons did not suture the graft areas, instead opting to bandage the area. The result was that the holes healed with scar tissue that left undesirable swiss cheese scarring.
The Pierce Closure technique tried to rectify this problem by making it possible to stitch up the donor site wounds. The surgeon would slice through a line of circular grafts, offset the bridges, and squeeze the skin together into a running lock and seal the skin together. However the procedure was not entirely effective as the edges of skin did not fit together correctly. This left an untidy scar.
Surgeons then attempted techniques that removed the skin between two rows of plug grafts. Again this was an untidy procedure and much of the donor hair was wasted. The industry then moved toward a strip excision technique. Some surgeons used a triple bladed scalpel to remove two strips of donor skin from the scalp. This made the procedure quicker but has been heavily criticised as it is said to be less accurate than a single blade and can destroy more hair follicles.
It has been seen as a crude time saving method that prioritises profits over the well-being of the patient.
The single blade strip excision technique is the most prevalent technique used in the US. It takes a slice of scalp from the back of the head, ear to ear, and the hair follicles are separated and replanted in the recipient area. The donor site can be stitched easily and leaves a thin scar that can be covered by combing the existing hair over the scar.
The procedure is done under local anaesthetic and takes 2-4 hours. There is no standard price list for hair restoration surgery as each procedure is different but depending on the number of grafts required it can cost between 1500 pounds and 10000 pounds.
The treatment can be spread over a few months and a number of different sessions. Occasionally people experience hair loss from the follicles that have been transplanted and most procedures will be supplemented with medicinal treatments.