Summary: A description of a typical hair transplant procedure,
may vary by clinic and doctor.
Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure
performed on men and women who have experienced significant
hair loss. It helps to correct androgenetic alopecia,
scarring alopecia and other types of permanent alopecia.
In some cases, patients with hair loss from lupus, injuries,
or other medical problems may be treated with hair transplantation.
In a nutshell, hair transplantation involves transferring
hair grafts (skin and hair units of 1 to 4 hairs extracted
from a single donor strip) from the back and sides of
your head (the donor area) to balding or thinng areas
where you would like new hair to grow.
Since every hair transplant clinic has their own unique
methods of conducting a hair transplant procedure, this
site will not try to explain every method possible. Instead,
we will take a look at the procedure with wide angle lense
to describe the basic steps behind every hair transplant
A typical hair transplant procedure has at least six
2. Blood Tests
4. Extraction of donor hair
5. Implanting of donor hair
6. Post operative care
1). When it comes to hair transplant information on the internet
or in promotional cd-roms and brochures, the consultation usually
receives the least amount of attention. However, since this
is first step in the process, and the one in which you alone
will play the largest part, the consultation is perhaps the
most important step for the individual. The information exchanged
during this meeting will outline your goals and expectations
for the outcome of the procedure. The information you receive
during this consultation is the only factor you have in choosing
either the right clinic or the wrong clinic for you. For more
information, read our: Realistic
Goals, Your Consultation and Choosing
a Doctor pages.
Hair Transplant Diagram
2). Once you have decided on a clinic and scheduled an appointment,
some clinics require blood tests to be performed as required
by law. These blood tests will take place approximately 24 to
48 hours before your surgery. If you live far away from the
clinic, the blood tests can be performed by your family doctor
or a laboratory which then fax the results to your clinic.
3). After your blood tests are confirmed, your hair
transplant doctor can begin your procedure. Each clinic
will give you certain instructions to follow before your surgery
which will probably include not to take an aspirin product before
the surgery, and not to eat or drink 12 hours prior to surgery.
The day of your procedure, patients might be given a small sedative
to take.This will help to relax you before the surgery and calm
Using a local anesthesia, the doctor will numb the recipient
area and donor area. This is the only time patients will feel
pain which can range from a mild discomfort for some patients
to very painful for others. Women tend to endure this step better
then men due to their higher capacity for pain.
4). Once the anesthia has taken affect, the doctor can remove
the donor hair grafts which is done using one of two methods
in common practice today.
The single strip harvest method is the traditional
and most widely used method. A scalpel containing 2 or more
blades mounted in parallel is used to cut strips of donor tissue
10 to 20 cm long. The donor strip is then carefully divided
into follicular units under a microscope and surgical light.
In order to remove this strip, you will have to lay on your
stomach so doctors can get a topside view of your donor area.
While the donor strip is being divided and counted into micro
grafts, the doctor will suture the donor area together. A number
of new techniques have been introduced lately to minimize scarring
in this region.
The Follicular Unit Extraction method is another technique
some doctors used to harvest donor hair. In this labor intensive
technique, doctors use a small punch-like circular scalpel to
remove follicular units one at a time. See Follicular Units for more
5). Following the suturing of your donor area or the Follicular
Unit Extraction step, you will recline comfortably in the surgery
chair as the medical team begins preparing your hair loss affected
area for the follicular unit hair grafts to be implanted.
This step involves making tiny incisions or apertures with
a small gauged needle or scalpel in the recipient area. These
tiny incisions is where your scalp will receive the new grafts
Often, a hair transplant team will work together - one making
the recipient incision while the other implants the new grafts.
It's during this step in the hair transplant process that the
experience and care of the doctor are most needed. The pattern
in which the grafts are implanted must appear natural and care
is taken by the doctor to insure blood flow to the new grafts.
Your hair transplant doctor will be looking at your recipient
incisions and must invision in his mind how the hair will look
as it grows in over the next 12 months and last for the next
Depending on the number of grafts you are having implanted,
the entire procedure can last from 2 to 4 hours.
6). Once the medical team has finished implanting the grafts,
the procedure is basically over with. The clinic may keep you
there for another hour or so to allow time for the sedative
and anesthia to wear off. During this time, your doctor will
then go over your post op surgery care with you. He will write
you prescriptions for pain, swelling and infection and give
you careful instructions on how to take care so that you do
not damage the newly implanted hair grafts. See Post Op Recovery for more
After the surgery, the area will usually be bandaged overnight.
The patient can return to normal activities, but strenuous activities
should be avoided in the first few days. During the recovery
period after surgery, the scalp is often very tender. Strong
pain medications taken orally may be necessary for several days.
A bulky surgical dressing, or sometimes a smaller dressing protected
by a baseball cap, must be worn for at least a day or two.
Although the procedure only lasts 2 to 4 hours, you may have
to wait 3 to 6 to up to 12 months for your new hair to start
growing in. The newly implanted grafts will scab as they heal
and then fall out. However, do not worry when they fall out
because they have gone into the dormant stage of the normal
hair growth cycle.