A hair transplant surgeon is a trained surgical physician whose specialty is grafting healthy hair follicles into areas of visible hair loss or baldness. Hair loss can be a problem for both men and women, and it can seriously affect a person’s self-image, confidence, and mental health. Anyone who is concerned about hair loss or thinning areas of hair can consult a hair loss specialist. There are several ways to disguise thinning hair and medications to promote hair growth; surgical hair grafting is a way to use the client’s own hair to re-populate balding parts of the scalp. This ensures that the colour, texture, and wave of the hair is a perfect match and that hair growth looks entirely natural.
Not everyone is a suitable candidate for hair transplant surgery; the main consideration is that the scalp and the remaining hair follicles are healthy. People without areas of reasonably thick and healthy hair (usually at the back of the head) may not have viable donor hairs to transplant.
At an initial consultation, a hair transplant specialist will take a medical history, examine the scalp and hair, and may make suggestions for lifestyle changes or prescribe medication to promote natural hair growth before considering surgery. These recommendations, such as stopping smoking, can also help ensure that the hair grafting is successful. If the client is a good candidate for hair transplantation, they can be called for surgery. This is done as a day case and the client can go straight home when the treatment is complete.
To prepare for the surgery, the hair is usually cut short to enable good visualisation of the hair roots and scalp. Hair transplantation is done under local anaesthetic, where numbing medication is injected into the scalp with a tiny needle. The client will lie on a special bed like a masseur’s table with their face down so that the surgeon can work on the back of their head. The anesthetic injection means that the whole process is painless. The areas to be worked on are cleaned and the procedure is performed to a surgically sterile standard.
Donor hairs are removed from the back of the head. This thins the hair in areas where it is not noticeable in order to transfer hair into the problem areas. The method of hair extraction and grafting depends on the severity of the hair loss. The two main methods the surgeon can choose from are follicular unit extraction (FUE): the removal of each hair follicle individually, or follicular unit transplantation (FUT): the removal of larger areas with more tissue between the hairs. The hairs are then prepared for implantation and transferred to the appropriate areas of the scalp, where they are inserted, with the root, into tiny incisions or by a special needle-ended pen.
It may take several months for the donor hairs to start growing at the same rate as the rest of the hair, and there may be some redness at first, but hair transplantation performed by a highly skilled and trained team has a very high success rate for long-term natural hair growth.