All About Hair Transplants

A short overview of the method

Hair replacement has made many advances over the last ten years. Generally, the procedure involves taking an area of the head where healthy hair follicles are growing, surgically removing them, then transplanting them to the areas that require hair replacement. This can be done either by removing the individual follicles or a small area of follicles. The candidate for hair transplant must realize that the procedure does not cause new hair to grow, but relocates existing hair and gives it an opportunity to grow in the transplaned area.

The recovery period after surgery is two to three days. Since not everyone is the same, several treatments may be required to fully restore the hair loss.

The general procedure used is to clean the scalp and administer a local anesthetic to the area where the hair follicles will be removed.
Depending on the method used, a single or group of follicles are selected to be inserted into the area of hair loss. This area is also anesthetized, and holes are made with a surgical instrument to place the selected grafts into the area.
The entire procedure can be as long as eight hours, but can be completed in as little as four hours.

Hair transplant methods - FUE vs. FUT

Two primary methods are used in the hair replacement process. The decision as to which method or combination of the two methods is best suited for a patient’s individual situation should be discussed with a qualified physician.

Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation - FUT

The first method is what is called a Follicular Unit Hair Transplantation (FUT). In this procedure, a group of hair units are surgically removed from a healthy hair strip. The strip is then placed over an unhealthy area to begin the restoration process. The advantages to using this method are a higher success rate and a more natural appearance upon completion and healing of the affected area. The primary reason to have a hair transplant is one’s personal appearance, and this method offers the patient the greatest opportunity for success and natural looking hair.

Follicular Unit Extraction - FUE

The second option is Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) where instead of a group of healthy hair is surgically replaced, the individual hair follicles are removed using microsurgery procedures. The individual follicles are then placed on the affected area of the head one-by-one. There are practical reasons to choose this method over FUT, the primary reason is that there is no visible scarring as a result of the procedure. This allows the patient to keep their hair very short. One technical reason to prefer FUE is the scalp of the patient may be very “tight,” making any other procedure very difficult if not impossible to perform.

Things to consider

Two important items are the cost of the hair transplant surgery and any post-operative issues. A typical hair replacement surgery can cost between $4,000 and $15,000. Most insurance plans will not include this type of medical procedure in their coverage, so the patient will bear the burden of payment. Post-operative concerns are infection of the scalp and visible scarring.

Folliculitis is the medical term for transplanted follicles to cause an inflammation of the transplanted area. Though the procedure appears simple, it is possible that the hair may grow in unevenly, resulting in an unnatural looking head of hair.

Further reading

Are you a candidate for hair transplant?
What to expect from a hair transplant surgery?