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Cosmetic surgery to overcome baldness using your own natural hair
Whether you are experiencing baldness as a result of genetics, trauma or disease, a hair transplant can return hair to the areas where you have lost it. As cosmetic surgery to recover lost hair relocates actual hair follicles, the ‘new’ hair is your own and perfectly natural.
Although the first recorded hair transplant procedure (Japan, in the 1930s) was used to restore hair to scarred eyelashes and eyebrows, it wasn't until 1959, when Dr Norman Orentreich published his report on hair transplant surgery, that the field really took off. As techniques have been refined over the years, the results have progressed from unnatural-looking tufts sprouting from the top of the head to a subtle covering, blending indistinguishably into the existing hair.
What can a hair transplant do for you?
Most hair loss in men is caused by genetic programming. It typically becomes noticeable by middle age, but may start as early as in the teens. Although baldness is not considered a problem to many people, some men (and women) become increasingly self-conscious about their hair loss. Hair transplant plastic surgery can give the appearance of a new, natural-looking head of hair by taking ‘lifelong’ hair follicles from the area at the very back of the head and relocating them on the bald area at the top of the head. Once transplanted, these relocated hairs will continue to grow normally.
The best candidate for a hair transplant, therefore, would possess healthy hair on the sides and back of the head. They would also be non-smokers (or able to stop smoking during the healing process) and mature enough to understand the psychological, as well as physical, impact of what they are doing. Your particular suitability for a hair transplant will be discussed during your initial consultation with the practitioner.
“I was a typical bald man, with a thick ‘horseshoe’ of hair around the sides and back of my head,” said one transplant patient in his forties. “I didn’t want a full mop of hair, but just enough to stop me being completely bare on top. Some of the healthy follicles from the horseshoe area were transplanted onto the rear and middle of my bald patch so that they subtly blended in with the hair at the back of my head. Now, instead of ‘bald’ I am ‘a bit thin on top’, which suits me fine.”
Undergoing a hair transplant
The procedure takes place under local anaesthetic. In a single session, up to 2,000 hair follicles may be transplanted, with greater numbers involved where larger areas are involved. Healthy hair is removed and transplanted in clusters of up to eight hair follicles. As the surgeon completes each area he will close up the incisions and cover the area with bandages. As each session could take several hours, you may prefer to have two or three shorter sessions instead.
The bandages that were applied during and after the procedure should be left in place overnight. You should be able to return to your normal routine the day after the procedure as long as you avoid vigorous exercise. For two or three days post-operation you will experience some discomfort in both the donor and recipient areas of the head. A mild headache as well as some swelling and bruising around the eyes is also quite likely.
Some of the transplanted hair may fall out two days or so after the procedure. This is perfectly normal and, gradually, over the course of the next three months, new hair will begin to sprout in the grafts. Sutures will be removed after about 10 days and you will be given instructions regarding hair washing/brushing during your recovery. Some scabbing may occur but should be gone within 10 days or so.
“I must admit, “ said one hair transplant patient, “there was a point, a couple of days after the operation, where I thought ‘What have I done?!’. Thankfully, the initial tenderness and unpleasant appearance soon improved and, day by day, I actually grew a normal looking head of hair.”
As with all cosmetic surgery, it is essential to follow the advice of your practitioner after the procedure. This will make the outcome as successful as possible and reduce the risk of complications.
It is normal that some of the grafts will not to take, however, most should continue to grow throughout your lifetime. If you wish, the procedure may be repeated at least 6 months after the original operation to fill in any gaps between the grafts to produce an even thicker head of hair.
Who should carry out your hair transplant?
You should only undergo this surgical procedure when being treated by doctors or surgeons who are specifically trained and experienced in hair transplantation. Costs range from £1,000 - £10,000 depending on the number and type of grafts transplanted. Before deciding to go ahead with a hair transplant, you should consider the consequences of your future hair loss and whether you are prepared to undergo further plastic surgery to maintain your full head of hair.
Have your say!
If you've had experience with this procedure then why not leave a comment below and share your thoughts and advice with our readers.