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A Step-by-Step Explanation of the Hair Transplantation Procedure

Aug 17, 2007
Millions of people suffer from hair loss. Most of those seeking a solution try wigs, pills, potions, gimmicks and gadgets and after much trouble and expense, conclude that they don't work or that the side-effects and other down-sides aren't worth the investment of time or money. So they give up.

Before you join the ranks of the discouraged, you should investigate a solution you probably haven't tried that may fulfill your dream of having a healthy head of normal, natural hair - without unhealthy side effects: hair transplantation, or permanent hair replacement surgery.

If that sounds scary, expensive, or weird, bear with me for a moment. Hair replacement is no more "weird" than having your teeth whitened. Under the care of a knowledgeable physician, there will be no bandages or scarring and you will be able to return to work the following day.

So the first step is to find a highly skilled physician, who can fulfill the following criteria:
1. He or she should perform surgeries of this kind every day.
2. A good hair doctor will have personally done thousands of surgeries.
3. He or she will let you speak to as many former patients as you like.
4. A competent specialist will allow you to watch a surgery in progress.

Doctors on the cutting edge (no pun intended) of hair surgery technology are rare. You will probably have to travel to be treated by one, but it will be well worth your while. Less qualified doctors are common, and still use outdated techniques. You may end up with disastrous results, such as doll's-head hair (where hair grows out of little holes in clusters or hair plugs), scarring, freakish hairlines, or flaps.

The Hair Transplantation Procedure

Having found a qualified 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. During the three to five hour operation, you'll be fully conscious and comfortable. You may read a book, watch TV, or chat with a friend or spouse. First, your doctor will remove a single strip of hair follicles (usually from the back of your head or the area above the ears). He will suture the incision shut, and your hair in will cover that area completely.

The doctor's team of 10 or more highly trained support technicians will painstakingly separate one- to three-thousand individual hair follicles from the donor strip and prepare them for transplantation.

Next, the doctor will make tiny incisions, much like paper cuts, in areas on your scalp that are bald or badly thinning. The roots (now called "grafts") are then planted into these tiny incisions - 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"), but unfortunately, many less qualified doctors still do. It is essential, for beautiful hair and a natural-looking hairline, to implant the follicles one by one.

Following the surgery, you will be sent home with pain medication if you desire it, but most people experience little to no down time. 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 an initial dormant time, your transplanted follicles will resume normal growth in as little as three to six months. Complete growth will be underway by ten to twelve months. At this stage, hair growth will be evaluated, and subsequent procedures may be performed if you wish to suit your personal preference. Most patients do not require more than two sessions.

Although they now cover areas that once were bald or thinning, your transplanted follicles are not prone to baldness, having been harvested from an area of the head that is genetically resistant to hair loss. You can expect them to keep on growing healthy, natural-looking hair for the rest of your life.

That's it. You're done. No need for maintenance, no negative side effects, and no ongoing expense. Nothing scary or weird about that.
About the Author
Dr. Lawrence Shapiro has performed over 10,000 permanent hair replacement surgeries in the last 18 years. Call Dr. Larry Shapiro of Dr. Shapiro's Hair Institute for a hair transplant consultation: 1-800-799-4247.
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