Hair loss is a common side effect of aging. Not everyone experiences hair loss, but many people do. And aging isn’t the only reason why a person might experience hair loss. Other reasons include trauma to the scalp and certain medical conditions. But hair loss isn’t something that you just have to live with. There are options that can help you restore your hair, including transplants, but do hair transplants work?
If you’ve been noticing hair loss and you want to do something about it, you may be looking into hair transplants. But you may be asking yourself, “will this really work?” Hair transplants are an investment, and you want to know that you’ll be getting a return. Take a look at some of the things that you should know about hair transplants as a treatment for hair loss – the types of hair transplants available, the probable side effects, what recovery is like after the transplant, and whether or not a transplant will work for you.
Two Types of Transplants
If you’re considering a hair transplant, you should know that there is more than one option available. There are two main types of hair transplant surgery.
- The first is called follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) which involves taking a strip of skin from the donor area. After the removal, the doctor closes the donor area with stitches and separates the skin from the donor area into follicular units. Then the follicular units are inserted into the area with the hair loss.
- The other main method of hair transplant is called follicular unit extraction (FUE). This involves removing the follicles from the donor area with a punch tool. This can leave scarring, but it may not be as noticeable as the scarring left from donor skin removal and can be done without the need for stitches to close the area.
Choosing which type of hair transplant is right for you depends on several things: your surgeon’s skill and experience with the different techniques, your own preferences, and the donor and transplant areas that your surgeon is working with.
Side Effects of Hair Transplants
All surgeries carry the risk of potential side effects, and hair transplants are no different in that respect. After a transplant, you may experience some pain either at the donor site, the transplant site, or both. This pain can be managed with pain medications prescribed by your doctor, or with doctor-approved over-the-counter medication.
Another potential side effect is swelling, either in the head or face during the healing process. This is usually temporary and easily managed.
Scarring is a potential side effect that concerns many hair transplant patients. Ideally, any scarring will be hidden by hair, but it’s important to discuss this potential side effect with your transplant surgeon before proceeding.
Scarring at the donor site may look like a long line if your surgeon uses the FUSS method. The FUE method may also leave scars where the donor follicles are removed with the punch tool, but these are smaller and less noticeable than FUSS scars. Additionally, at the transplant site, there may be visible bumps where the hair follicles are implanted, but these should be hidden by the hair as it grows in.
Finally, there’s the possibility of infection and bleeding at the donor or transplant site. These are risks at any incision site, which is why patients should be screened for conditions or medications that may contribute to excess bleeding prior to surgery, and also why patients should be certain to follow their doctor’s instructions about keeping the incision site clean following surgery. While infection and bleeding are always possibilities, the risks should be low if both the surgeon and patient take all of the proper precautions.
Recovering From Hair Transplant Surgery
In most cases, patients will be able to go home the same day as their hair transplant surgery. Pain, soreness, and swelling may last for a few days following the surgery, and the surgeon may prescribe antibiotics for the patient to take following surgery to prevent infection. If you’re prescribed antibiotics, it’s important to make sure to take them as directed until they’re gone for the best chance at preventing possible infections.
Typically, hair transplant patients can resume most normal activities within a few days. However, patients may need to wait a few days after the surgery to wash their hair and should stick to a more mild shampoo for a few weeks. Patients may also need to wait a few weeks before brushing or combing the new grafts, and they should avoid hats and pullovers until their surgeon clears them for using these items.
One more aspect of recovery from hair transplant surgery involves hair loss. It’s not uncommon to lose some hairs following hair transplant surgery, and patients shouldn’t worry that this means that the transplant has failed. It can take some time for the transplanted hair to begin growing in fully, and it may be a few months before it blends well with the surrounding hair.
Do Hair Transplants Work?
Both methods of hair transplants work and are effective, although the results may differ in some ways. While there is a dearth of large-scale studies on hair transplant surgery results, smaller studies suggest that the majority of people who have hair transplant surgery are satisfied with their results.
The best way to ensure that you get the hair transplant result that you’re looking for is to choose an experienced hair transplant surgeon with a track record of success.