SURGICAL HAIR TRANSPLANTS


by

Lois W. Stern *


* Much of the material for this article was excerpted from Vern Cole's chapter: "No More Bad Hair Days",
appearing in Tick Tock, Stop the Clock ~ Getting Pretty on Your Lunch Hour



Surgical Hair Transplants: A Permanent Hair Loss Solution For Those Who Qualify


How to Begin

Not everyone is a good candidate for a surgical hair transplant procedure. To begin, the surgeon should do a microscopic analysis of your hair and scalp. A camera known as the Pro Scope magnifies the hair and scalp up to four hundred times. It shows the condition of the scalp very vividly, enabling the client to see if there is a build-up on their scalp that could be causing blockage and preventing the hair from growing freely. If a blockage exists, it tells us that the hair follicle is being inhibited of its blood supply.

The Surgical Option is the only guaranteed permanent solution for hair loss. So when discussing various hair restoration options with a client, Vern begins with the surgical because that is the only guaranteed method offering a permanent solution with hair that continues to grow. He addresses what makes a person a viable candidate, dependant upon the amount of hair loss that exists and how much donor hair can be harvested from the donor site. He also explores the immediacy of the client’s need. Can s/he be patient enough to wait for the final result? (As you will read below, this is a procedure that is done in stages and takes many months to complete.)

The client needs to understand that once hair is transplanted, almost like clock work its follicles go into a resting-dormant phase called the tellogen phase. Approximately ninety to one hundred days after a procedure, the hair grows at the rate of a half inch per month, so it take nine to twenty-four months depending on gender, to get to its desirable hairstyle length. Ordinarily, it takes nine to twelve months for a male to see the final result and eighteen to twenty-four months for a female. But just the fact that the hair is gradually growing and less scalp is becoming visible improves one’s appearance and optimism.

Furthermore a surgical hair transplant is costly. The investment might be an inhibiting factor for some or might eliminate others altogether. Although financing options exist for qualifying patients, this is a cosmetic procedure not covered by medical insurance, so like with any other luxory expenditure, one has to assess one's finances as well as degree of importance to that individual.


Evaluate, Address and Be Aware


There are three ingredients that make up a successful, authentic result to a surgical hair procedure: evaluate, address and be aware.

The physician or certified hair loss consultant must first evaluate the location from which the follicles could be taken (the donor site), and if there is enough hair to redistribute to the thinning or balding area to meet the expectation of the patient. Keep in mind that each follicle contains anywhere from one to five hairs depending on the genetic make up of the individual. With technology today, a candidate may need anywhere from one to three procedures. If done correctly, three procedures are the most that really can be done and many are satisfied with one procedure. Typically, during the first procedure, approximately fifteen hundred to twenty-five hundred follicles can be transplanted. This equates to approximately five thousand to eight thousand transplanted hairs. That’s a lot of hair! In a person’s lifetime, realistically about six thousand grafts can be transplanted.

The second ingredient to a successful surgical procedure is to address the retention of any pre-existing (non- transplanted) hair on top of the head. We want to minimize the possibility of having to perform another procedure in the future. We also want to give the existing hair the fullest, healthiest and most robust appearance possible.

The third ingredient to a successful surgical procedure is to be aware of the CTC concept (Cut, Texture, and Condition). The way the hair is cut can go a long way toward giving the illusion of more hair. Texture and hair color can also help make the hair appear up to five times fuller and thicker. Root perms or soft body waves can really blow up the hair. Using the right conditioner is also very helpful as a conditioner that is too heavy can give the hair a limp, lifeless look. Vern recommends leave-in spray conditioners that are easier to distribute in the hair and light enough to avoid weighing it down. All three of the CTC concepts are important.


Before, During and After Hair Transplantation


Hair transplantation is an outpatient procedure, performed with local anesthesia. Normally patients would be viewing a DVD, reading a good book (i.e. Tick, Tock, Stop the Clock) or listening to relaxing music. They might even nod off occasionally. An average procedure takes about six hours. Once the procedure is completed, the patient will be feeling a bit woozy from the anesthesia, similar to the feeling of having consumed a glass and a half of wine, and should not drive home but should have arranged in advance for someone else to do the chaffeuring.

The next day a medical technician gives the patient their first head wash and check to make sure all the grafts are intact. The sutures (stitches) are removed ten to fourteen days after the procedure. There will be a scar the size of a pencil line, however no one including the patient will ever see it unless the back of their head is completely shaved.

The only three medically proven ways to stop the progression of hair loss and potentially re-grow hair non-surgically are through Laser Hair Therapy (discussed in detail in another article), Rogaine/Minoxidil (Rogaine) and Propecia®.

These three treatments work particularly well together, having a synergistic effect that probably equals more like the power of seven than three. At least one of these treatments should be initiated after the surgical procedure is complete and the sutures have been removed. It should be noted that women in childbearing years should not take Propecia® (which is a prescription drug) as it can block the production of DHT, one of the main culprits to hair loss.

There is now an organic version of a DHT blocker that has no side effects, which can be safely used by anyone over the age of eighteen. The common ingredient found in these products is Saw Palmetto.

To read what Vern Cole has to say about the pros and cons of wigs, Click here.

To read what Vern Cole has to say about hair restoration treatments for baldness, Click here.

To read what Vern Cole has to say about laser hair treatments, Click here.


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© 2011, updated 2013 by Lois W. Stern

You may forward or duplicate this article without permission, providing you include full author attribution, as detailed below.

Lois W. Stern is the published author of two books: Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery and Tick Tock, Stop the Clock ~ Getting Pretty on Your Lunch Hour as well as numerous magazine articles. Her Professional Edition DVD is a popular aid to office staff while interacting with their patients.

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