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Hair Loss: Causes, Treatment & Result

If you are lucky, you ‘won’t start losing your hair before your late thirties, but if you come under ¾ male population, it’s likely you have already started losing your hair. Going bald is a major insecurity and concern among most men. In some cases, people might lose hair because of ageing, family history, hormonal changes, etc., while in others it can be caused because of vitamin deficiency, unhealthy lifestyle and use of alcoholic hair products. 

Fortunately, with hair transplant surgery people can achieve thick luscious hair within a few weeks. The hair transplant in India is also much more affordable compared to other cosmetic treatments, making it more accessible.

A hair transplant is a cosmetic treatment in which a dermatological or a plastic surgeon uses the patient’s own hair from the back of their head and implant them to the bald areas of their scalp. Hair transplantations are typically performed in a medical centre under local anaesthesia.

Pattern baldness is the dominant cause of hair loss in the majority of these cases, which is caused because of genetics. As discussed above, other factors may include:

  • stress
  • diet
  • illness
  • hormonal imbalance
  • medications
  • use of chemical products

Type of Hair Transplant

Grafts

Hair transplant treatment is performed under local anaesthesia. The graft hair transplant procedure involves removal of a section of the scalp and thousands of hair strands are inserted inside this section of the scalp. These hair strands are kept healthy during the session by frequent periodic saline injections. After the transplantation is over, the portion now full of healthy hair is surgically reattached on the patient’s scalp. The patient’s next appointment is scheduled after a while, so his/ her surgical wounds can heal. Post which another session is arranged. Graft hair transplant surgery may require several sessions.

There are two types of grafting for hair transplant procedures:

Slit Grafts – that contain 4 to 10 strands of hair in each graft.

Micro-grafts – that contain 1 to 2 strands of hair in each graft. The number of strands in a graft may vary depending on the size of coverage needed.

Flaps

Flaps are considered better than grafting and other types of hair transplantation techniques as they cover larger areas on the scalp and is faster compared to other procedures. In this procedure, the bald section of the patient’s scalp is removed, and healthy hair is stretched and tethered over that area.

There is a higher degree of scarring involved in flaps than Grafts, as bald scalp area are covered with healthy hair in entirety. However, these scars are covered by the hair as they grow.

Tissue expansion

Tissue expansion involves placement of a balloon-like tissue expander which is inserted under the scalp area, which is growing healthy hair. The expander is kept in the scalp for a few days. Over a few weeks, the tissue-expander soaks and preserves the saltwater that enables the expansion and stretching of the tissue. As soon as the tissue expansion is stretched to a sufficient amount, it is grafted in the bald scalp area.

Who might benefit from a hair transplant?

Hair transplant is a cosmetic procedure, which is solely performed to improve an individual’s appearance. It does not have any health benefits, but it boosts the patient’s self-confidence by improving their appearance. Following candidates can be considered for a hair transplant:

  • men afflicted with male pattern baldness
  • women suffering from extensive hair loss/ thinning hair
  • people who have lost hair because of burn or a scalp injury

Hair replacement should not be considered by:

  • women who have widespread patterns of hair loss across their scalp
  • people who develop keloid scars (fibrous, thick scars) after surgery or any injury
  • people who ‘don’t have the appropriate amount of “donor” hair spots from which healthy hair can be transferred for the transplant
  • people who suffer from hair loss due to medication like chemotherapy

How is Hair Transplantation Performed?

Grafting

After a thorough cleaning of the scalp, the surgeon injects local anaesthesia in the targeted area via a small needle to numb the patient’s head.

Two main techniques can be used for obtaining follicles for transplantation:

•    FUT

•    FUE

In FUT (follicular unit transplantation):

In FUT, the surgeon will cut a strip of scalp skin using scalpel from the back of the patient’s head. The size of the incision can be quite long depending on the balding patches where they need to be placed.

After retrieving the scalp, the incision is closed with stitches.

Then, the surgeon separates the extracted portion of the scalp into multiple sections using a sharp surgical knife and magnifying lens. These sections are strategically implanted on the scalp for achieving natural-looking hair growth.

In FUE (follicular unit extraction):

In FUE, the patient’s hair follicles are cut directly by making thousands of tiny incisions from the back of their head.

Then the surgeon will make tiny holes with a needle in the scalp area where hair transplantation is being performed. Then the hair is placed gently place in these holes.

The treatment includes multiple sessions, during which the surgeon can transplant hundreds or thousands of hairs. Each session can last for four or more hours.

Post-treatment ‘patient’s scalp will be covered with graft, or bandages for a few weeks.

A hair transplantation session can take four hours or more. Patients stitches are usually removed ten days after the last procedures.

Note: Patients who want to achieve a full head hair growth need to go for multiple sessions. These sessions may occur for several months, in intervals to allow the patient’s scalp to heal after each session completely.

Post Treatment Care

Patient’s scalp may remain sore for a few days after the procedure, and they may need to consume medications, like:

•    pain killers

•    anti-inflammatory medications for keeping swelling down

•    antibiotics for reducing the risk of infection

Most people return to their routine after a few days of their treatment.

It is completely normal for ‘patient’s transplanted hair to fall after two to three weeks post-surgery. This allows new hair to grow. The patient will see evident results in their hair growth after 8 to 12 months.

Several hair transplant doctors prescribe hair growth medication Propecia (finasteride) or minoxidil/ Rogaineto for improving the ‘patient’s hair regrowth. These medications are also effective in slowing or stopping future hair loss.

Long-Term Outlook

Typically, people who get hair transplant continue to grow hair in their bald areas.

The new hair growth can appear less or more dense, depending on:

•    how loose a ‘patient’s scalp skin is or scalp laxity

•    the density of the hair follicles in the transplanted areas

•    hair curl

•    hair quality or calibre

•    If patients don’t take their medication (like minoxidil/ finasteride) or have undergone other low-level of laser therapies, they may continue to lose hair in their non-treated areas.

Click here, to track the top 10 hair transplant surgeons in India.

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