Hair transplant surgery has experienced significant progress in the past ten years in combating the problem of hair loss, baldness and other conditions. Most conditions are caused by naturally occurring male pattern baldness, as well as by other genetic conditions such as alopecia. Hair loss is also caused in some cases by stress or hormonal imbalances, with the latter problem particularly affecting women.
Hair transplant surgical options developed out of experiments into skin and follicular grafts in Japan during the 1930s, and expanded in the 1980s as the result of stereo microscopic procedures for better dissecting and transplanting follicular units. Early treatments involved strip harvesting follicles, which could then be transplanted into affected areas. While often successful, this technique had the downside of resulting in scarring. Other early extraction and transplantation techniques also resulted in an uneven, or artificial looking result for patients.
Strip harvesting is still commonly used as an option for covering a large affected areas, and continues to be successful in many cases. The strip of scalp removed is 1-1.5 mm by 15.30cm in size, and require suturing to heal wounds. However, since 2002 options have been developed that uses Follicular Unit Extraction. Enabled by the development of finer extraction needles, FUE works by extracting a more precise number of hair follicles.
A finely edged sharp blade and a blunt edged blade are used to remove follicles, which are then dissected and moved in groups into the new area. 1-4 or 2-6 hairs are harvested, which can then be placed at the correct angle for growth in the new area. The FUE procedure is simple and non invasive enough to not require more than a mild anaesthetic, while patients can usually leave the same day.
It takes a few days for a transplant to settle, during which time patients should not shampoo the area. Some side effects may include temporary swelling, and tightness, although these conditions can be easily relieved if they don’t resolve themselves in a few days. Semi permeable dressings used in the procedure will also naturally wash away after a few days of the procedure.
When successful, hair transplants will result in naturally growing and regrowing hair that will thicken and blend into existing areas of hair. The success of FUE and older harvesting techniques means that it is almost impossible to detect once settled. However, the success of transplant procedures will depend on individual patients and their stage of hair loss. Full hair loss cannot be treated due to the lack of available hair for donation. Patients may also experience further hair loss in other areas after a procedure, which can result in the need for additional treatments.
In terms of choosing between more widely used strip harvesting techniques and FUE, the latter tends to be more expensive, and requires a greater number of sessions. FUE is also not as commonly available as strip harvesting, and may result in a longer wait for treatment. Despite these issues, anyone suffering from any type of hair loss should investigate hair transplant options as a potentially life changing solution.
About the Author:
Christina Appleworth is a freelance copywriter currently writing on behalf of Crown Clinic, a UK London based hair transplant clinic.