Hair Transplants: What are they and who are they for?

What exactly is a hair transplant?

Famous cases like Louis Walsh and Wayne Rooney have put hair transplants in the spotlight in recent years but there are still many myths and misconceptions around what a hair transplant really is.

Put simply, a hair transplant is the redistribution of hair from a part of the head where hair is plentiful to another part where hair is sparse. Or, as I sometimes put it, it’s like moving roses from the back garden to the front garden.

Who is it for?

Each hair transplant is unique and the procedure can be used to treat a variety of hair-related issues. The treatment is the most effective long-term solution for male pattern baldness.

There have also been excellent results in the treatment of genetic hair loss in some women, as well as in scars resulting from facial surgery, burns, accidents, or as a result of various hair loss diseases.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to hair loss and each patient should be treated on a case-by-case basis. There are many factors to consider when deciding to go forward with a hair transplant, including age and the availability of donor hair.

Hair transplants are not for everyone and often drugs like Minoxidil (Regaine) are the most effective and most suitable treatment, particularly for men under 25.

Where does the hair come from?

Typically the hair on the back and sides of the scalp is permanent. It’s not clear why this part of the head is immune to male pattern hair loss but the permanency of this hair makes it an ideal donor site for most hair transplants. Donor hair can also come from the nape of the neck and the chest.

Let’s get technical

There are two main techniques used to transplant hair: FUT (Follicular Unit Transplantation) and FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction).

In Follicular Unit Transplantation, a thin strip of skin about the size of your middle finger is removed from the back of the head where hair is thicker and immune to hair loss. The strip is then dissected under microscope by trained technicians, excess skin is removed and the follicles are prepared for planting. Finally, the follicles are meticulously planted one by one in the thinning or balding areas of the scalp.

In Follicular Unit Extraction, individual follicles are taken one by one, not in a strip, from the area on the scalp with surplus hair.

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