From supplements and shampoos to oils and alternative treatments, hair loss sufferers are on an endless quest to find that solution for hair thinning or balding. While doctors have made major strides in discovering the cause of hair loss in the past century, they have not had a serious breakthrough in terms of medicinal treatment.
The one exception to this rule is hair transplant surgery, a field that has improved significantly over just a few decades of research and advancement. What began in the 1950s as a somewhat crude and risky procedure has become far more safe and effective in recent years, and patients today report high rates of satisfaction and permanence from the procedures.
In terms of providing lasting, real results for hair restoration, modern hair transplantation is unmatched by any other method or medicine. For those who have already “tried it all” and still not getting the outcomes they want, one of these procedures might be the best course of action.
Of course, hair transplantation is a serious decision that comes with its own set of demands and some minor risks to consider. This article will walk through every step of the process, from research and consultation to the surgery itself and the recovery period post-operation.
With this guide on hand, you will have a better understanding of the entire hair transplantation process from front to back and be able to choose a great clinic and surgeon for optimal results.
Like any type of procedure, research comes first. Learn as much as possible about the causes and processes behind hair loss to get plenty of background information on the subject before surgery is even considered. Some people immediately resort to surgery without exploring other options and end up wasting time and money that could be spent elsewhere.
Those equipped with knowledge on hair loss will be able to look at the situation from a more objective point of view and minimize the emotional attachments to the circumstances that often lead people to make poor long-term decisions.
Perhaps you have only just begun to lose hair along your temples or notice some extra space on the hairline where there used to be full coverage. Maybe the crown of the head or the vertex is the main region of concern. These are all things to take into consideration.
While most hair loss cases result from genetic inheritance, there are other factors at play like lifestyle or hormones that could be the reason behind your hair loss. During the research process, be sure to run down the list of all possibilities and solutions before committing to a certain type of procedure.
If you believe surgery to be the best course of action, your next goal is to find a clinic with a reputation for excellence and board-certified hair restoration specialists that you can trust to provide top-tier service for any procedure you select.
You can perform a simple online search for clinics in your region, though many clients choose to travel across state lines or even to different countries to get the best service and price for hair transplantation. Given that costs and conveniences vary from one area to the other, it’s a good idea to compare various clinics based on reviews, pictures, testimonials, and any other information you can gather before making a call or setting an appointment.
If you know anyone who has had a successful hair transplant, open a dialogue with them to get their thoughts on the process and recommendations on clinics. Hair transplants are no longer a taboo subject for most people, but of course, tread carefully around the subject if you are not a close friend.
After narrowing down your list to a few favorite clinics, it’s worth setting some appointments in-person or over the phone. Some surgeons even perform consultations over video chat if live visits are not an option.
The goal of the consultation is to determine what type of hair transplantation surgery is best for you. This will be determined based on the current condition of your hair, the predicted trend of your hair loss (increasing, subsiding, or staying the same), and the availability of donor hair, typically located on the back or sides of the head.
A great doctor will walk you through the objectives and steps of each procedure type and list out their pros and cons with as much detail as possible. At this stage, it’s important to look out for certain red flags, such as doctors pushing you in certain directions or declining to offer alternatives to their preferred version of the procedure.
Doctors may snap “before” photos of your hair and spend time taking notes to ensure they have enough data to carefully plan for the surgery. Ideally, they will be very transparent about their thought process and tell you everything that’s going on.
Don’t hesitate to walk away if you get a bad feeling about the clinic or the people guiding you through the consultation. Be sure you meet with the actual surgeon and not a salesperson, assistant, or representative. Ask as many questions as possible, even if they seem redundant. It’s impossible to over-communicate or be overly informed.
At this time, also be sure to clarify any existing medical concerns or medications you might be taking. Work with the doctor to map out the surgery and post-op recovery period.
It’s natural to feel a bit anxious at first, but a great doctor will help you feel relaxed and confident in the process.
With the date of the surgery set, you’ll want to clear your calendar for that day and at least a week after. Leading up to the surgery, it’s wise to make some healthy lifestyle changes if possible. This might mean eating better food, taking some vitamins, cutting out alcohol, and avoiding certain medications like blood thinners.
When the big day arrives, make sure you have transportation arranged to drop you off and pick you up from the clinic, especially if you choose to take sedatives or anti-anxiety medication for the procedure. You will not “go under” for the surgery unless you specifically request, and the clinic allows it. Nevertheless, the procedure can six-eight hours, and you will want to be relaxed as possible in the following hours.
The nature of the surgery will depend on whether you and your doctor selected FUT “strip surgery” or FUE “follicular excision.” The details of each surgery can be found in other resources, and these differences will not have a major impact on your subjective experience during the procedure.
You will receive a local anesthetic (on the donor and recipient areas) before the doctor and their team get to work. The length of the surgery will depend on how many grafts are being transplanted, with the average procedure taking several hours to complete.
There will be bathroom breaks or snack breaks now and then to get up and stretch. It is rare for clients to report much discomfort during surgery, and doctors do their best to set patients up for a seamless experience. At most, patients report minor pulling, tugging, or pinching sensations during the surgery.
When the procedure is complete, you will catch up with the surgeon to be briefed on how things went and get your final instructions for an easy and speedy recovery.
Upon departure from the clinic, you may be required to wear bandages, take pain meds, and generally be as still as possible for a few days as wounds heal on the scalp. The key here is to avoid touching the tender area at all costs, stay upright as much as you can, and avoid strenuous physical exercise or stress.
For some people, this is not a bad experience at all, especially if they live fast-paced lives with high-stress careers. For the first week or so, your only goal is to relax and keep variables to an absolute minimum.
After that initial week, the pain will subside, and you can start to incorporate some physical activities back into your schedule. The affected area will still be healing, but wounds should not be as sensitive. After several more weeks, the hair will fall out and begin the new growth cycle. Don’t panic! That’s just a normal part of the process.
The majority of hair growth will occur within a year, and some doctors may even prescribe medication like Minoxidil or Finasteride for an extra boost.
It’s extremely important to check in with your doctor on the date of the designated follow-up meeting and fill them in on your entire recovery experience – even the stuff that seems gratuitous or irrelevant. This will help them guide you in the right direction and ensure a complete recovery.
Still, you have so many questions about the procedure: Will it hurt? Will they be noticeable? What kind of results can I expect? Are my expectations realistic? Hair transplants are not a common topic of discussion. So, who do you turn to?
A successful transplant process starts with a consultation with a hair transplant expert who truly wants to understand your personal goals. Dr. Jae Pak of Jae Pak, M.D. Medical is a board-certified physician and a hair transplant artist. With a complementary background in engineering, Dr. Pak uses precision-like skill to bring his patients a natural and balanced hair line they can be proud of.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Pak today and discover what hair transplants can do for you.
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