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Permanent Hair Replacement or Hair Transplant Surgery: How It Works

Aug 17, 2007
If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from hair loss, you've probably already tried pills and potions, gimmicks and gadgets and come to the conclusion that they either don't work or have so many down-sides that they aren't worth the investment of time or money. You may have given up.

But before you throw in the towel on your dream of having a healthy head of normal, natural hair - without unhealthy side effects - there's one solution you probably haven't tried that may bear looking into: hair transplantation, or permanent hair replacement surgery.

Yikes, you say, that sounds like Frankenstein! But remember, Frankenstein was bald. Joking aside, hair replacement is no more "weird" than having your teeth whitened. If you have it done by a knowledgeable physician, you'll have no bandages or scarring, little or no down time, and you will be able to return to work the following day. Doll's-head hair (where hair grows out of little holes in clusters) and hair plugs, embarrassing toupees and wigs - these are things of the past, no longer needed with modern advancements in hair replacement.

The first step is to find a highly skilled physician, preferably one who does surgeries of this kind every day. You will probably have to travel to him or her, as doctors who know state-of-the-art technology in hair surgery are rare. If you choose a doctor of lower quality, you'll receive the old kind of surgery, and hundreds of thousands of embarrassed and sorry patients have found that very unsatisfactory. Insist on a specialist who at the time of the consult allows you to watch a surgery in progress and to speak with many, many satisfied patients. Don't be fooled by a doctor's fancy-sounding jargon. Anyone can talk. A good hair doctor will have personally done thousands of surgeries and can let you speak to as many patients as you like. Only true experts can deliver the goods.

When you've selected a quality doctor and had your pre-op consultation, you'll be scheduled for the procedure. On the day of the surgery, you'll receive a local anesthetic to completely numb your scalp. Most patients read a book or watch TV during the operation, which takes from three to five hours. During this time, your doctor will remove a single strip of follicles (usually from the back of your head or the area above the ears). This incision will be sutured shut, and your hair in that area will cover the spot completely.

The doctor, supported by a team of highly trained technicians, will dissect individual hair follicles from the strip and prepare them for hair transplantation. One- to three-thousand follicles are harvested and separated per hair strip by the doctor supervising a large support staff doing this painstaking work.

The doctor will next make incisions much like paper cuts on your scalp in areas that are bald or badly thinning. Into these tiny incisions the roots (now called "grafts") will be planted singly, in twos or in threes. No skilled doctor will hole-punch and stick clusters of follicles together in the holes (the odious, old-fashioned procedure which produces doll's-head hair). One by one is the secret for beautiful hair and a natural-looking hairline.

Following this surgery, new growth will begin in as little as three to six months with complete growth by ten to twelve months. Hair growth is then evaluated, and subsequent procedures may be performed based on the patient's personal preference. When a qualified physician is performing the procedure, most patients do not require more than two sessions.

You will be sent home with pain medication if you desire it, but most people manage their one-to-two-day minor discomfort with over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol. Antibiotics, Rogaine or Propecia may be prescribed for a brief period. You'll be able to return to normal activities within two days following surgery, with the exception of heavy lifting for a short period.

After the initial dormant time, your transplanted follicles will return to their business of growing hair again. You can expect these roots to keep on growing healthy, natural-looking hair for the rest of your life. Although they now cover areas that once were bald or thinning, the new follicles are not prone to baldness, having been harvested from an area of the head that is genetically resistant to hair loss. You're on your own and good to go with no need for maintenance, no negative side effects, and no ongoing emptying of your purse. Now really, does that sound like Frankenstein to you?
About the Author
Dr. Lawrence Shapiro has performed over 10,000 permanent surgeries in the last 18 years in his hair replacement Florida clinics. He was the first U.S. doctor to practice strip-incision and micro-mini grafts/follicular unit techniques. Call him at 1-800-799-4247, or visit his website.
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