What exactly is a hair transplant?

What exactly is a hair transplant?

Hair transplant

The hair follicles on the back of your head are most resistant to hormonal changes (which is what causes most male pattern baldness cases). A surgical hair transplant takes a strip of hair from this area of your head and places the follicles in the balding areas of your head. There are two main methods of hair transplant that are followed today: 

  • Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT)
  • Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). 

In the FUT method, a direct strip of skin and hair is removed from the back of your head, followed by dissection into individual follicles.

In the FUE method of hair transplantation, individual follicles are pre-cut from the scalp using tiny specialised machines. It is a longer process that takes a few more hours than the FUT method, but it’s painless once medication is administered.

The rest of the surgery is the same for both FUT and FUE transplants. Using very fine blades and needles in the balding areas of your head, tiny sites are created. The follicles that have been extracted from the back of your head are then placed into these sites as grafts.

The pros of FUT Method

An older and more tested procedure, the FUT method can cover larger and more areas within fewer sittings. This is because an entire strip of hair is collected, giving the surgeon many more follicles to extract than the FUE method.

Manageable Recovery Time

The recovery time for the FUT hair transplant is fairly manageable, lasting only 10-12 days. However, a few patients experience higher levels of discomfort with FUT compared to other procedures due to potential swelling where the strip of scalp was removed. This is still manageable with the proper pain medication

Higher Rate Of Follicle Survival

The strip of donor hair that is cut out from your scalp is where your hair is permanent. Hence, most people with limited donor areas opt for this method of hair transplant. With FUT, follicles are carefully harvested, keeping the protective tissue intact so the grafted hairs are more robust and tolerating

Natural-ish results

The procedure results in a very thin, straight scar less than 1mm in diameter. This makes it very easily concealed with the surrounding hair so it is virtually undetectable. However, it may be visible through shorter styles, so take that into consideration.

With a FUT hair transplant, hair grafts are transplanted in small, naturally occurring groups of 1 – 4 hairs. This allows for a very natural looking result with a nice full head of hair for you to enjoy. 

No Additional Scarring With Subsequent Sessions

No matter how many times you undergo FUT hair transplant, you will only remain with one single scar. FUE, on the other hand, leaves you with small, circular scars behind each donor site.

Advantages of FUE method

As this method of hair transplantation does not involve taking an entire strip of scalp from the back of the head like in strip surgery, there are no cuts or stitches.

The recovery time is much quicker with the patient often returning to work the next day itself.

Better Graft Quality

Computerized, specialized machines are used to only select the highest quality grafts from the donor area.

No linear scar

The FUE method harvests and transplants hairs in their natural groupings, leaving NO linear scar behind. This gives hair a more natural appearance and allows you to wear your hair as short as you like without having to worry about a visible scar.

Minimally painful and invasive

The FUE procedure uses local anesthesia to ensure minimal discomfort during the procedure. Since the FUE transplant uses a minimally invasive method, many patients experience minimal pain during or after their procedure.

Shorter Recovery Time

With no scalpel or stitches used in the treatment, the recovery process after an FUE transplant is quick, with many people getting back to their daily activities within a couple of days. The procedure itself only takes about 8 hours.

Minimal Scarring In Donor Area

Since the follicles are harvested in a random fashion, the look and density of the donor area is minimally affected. FUE is a treatment of choice for people that prefer to wear their hair very short at the back because the donor area looks unaffected and unaltered.

Both methods involve surgery hence a proper consultation with the surgeon is required who can explain the procedure and its advantages and disadvantages. It takes several hours to perform the surgery and implant hence it is important to block the day out completely and be mentally prepared for it. 

One of the biggest things to take into account is that most surgeons will want to shave the entire head before embarking on the procedure so make sure that you factor that in.

Post surgery care

Post your surgery, your grafts will be in a very delicate condition. So follow the post surgery instructions properly.Your scalp and face might be swollen for a few days and that is completely normal. Your doctor will put you on antibiotics, steroids and painkillers. You may also be asked to use minoxidil and finasteride.

The planted grafts should be dabbed with saline throughout the day for a few days after the surgery, and you will be asked to take special care while washing your hair with diluted shampoo. Be careful not to disturb the grafts.They will eventually fall out after two weeks and the new growth will be seen anywhere between three to six months.

Since the FUT method is more invasive than the FUE, post operative wound care is extremely important. Your sutures will be removed anywhere between 1 week to 10 days after your procedure.

Should I go for FUT?

If you have larger balding areas, and don’t mind multiple sittings, longer recovery time, general anesthesia, stitches and scars (don’t let us scare you, now!) FUT might be the right procedure for you.

Should I go for FUE?

If you have relatively smaller balding areas, prefer wearing shorter hairstyles, or have an active lifestyle that requires you back on your feet with shorter recovery times, FUE might be the best option for you.

If you do mind stitches and cuts, FUE could suit you.

FUE is also widely used for women with smaller bald patches.