WHAT’S IN THIS HAIR TRANSPLANT ARTICLE?
You’d be surprised how having more hair can change your whole world.
Getting a hair transplant is a potentially life-altering decision, and as such will have many factors you need to consider. It’s best to know all your available options, what a hair transplant costs, and what you can expect when you get a hair transplant in Australia.
In this comprehensive article, we’ll tell you everything you need to inform your decision to get a hair transplant, including the causes of hair loss, the types of hair transplant procedures, and how much you can expect to spend. We’ll also talk about how long it will take you to recover, and what you’ll have to do after you get your brand new head of hair.
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What causes hair loss, and what can be done?
The Anatomy of Male Pattern Hair Loss
Male pattern hair loss is a condition that affects a lot of men, particularly those who are in their late adulthood. But unfortunately for some this appears early on in life, starting around their teens to something severe later on in their twenties. Hair loss in men is a more common phenomenon compared to female cases, but still it creates substantial amount of psychological impact. It results to an impaired body image due to the loss of one of those features that largely defines the way they look.
Male pattern hair loss also known as androgenetic alopecia is a condition where the hairs are attacked by the chemicals (hormones) in your own body. Androgens, which are hormones responsible for male characteristics, are also the culprit for male pattern hair loss. The androgen which is testosterone is the one affected by this as it is transformed by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase into DHT or dihydrotestosterone.
When DHT comes in contact with your sensitive hair follicles it causes them shrink, becomes finer and then shed. The shedding becomes gradual but with excessive amounts (more than the normal 100-120 hairs a day) on a daily basis. It also follows a specific pattern.
When Hair Loss Begins
With males typical hair loss pattern starts at the hairline which then slowly recedes sometimes reaching the middle portion of the scalp while forming a U or M bald spot, see the photo below. In other cases the balding starts at the crown, forming a round bald spot at the center of the scalp. In a worst case scenario both receding hairline and occipital balding can occur simultaneously.
In determining the extent of your hair loss the Norwood Scale was developed. It has seven stages in which to classify the different levels of hair loss in men. From the initial signs of hair loss and thinning to the more severe, in which hair recedes all the way back to the head leaving only a few patches typically near the temples.
This physical changes places significant amount of stress in men, especially younger individuals because this makes them look less desirable, older and unhealthy. Due to this problem a lot of men are desperate for ways to solve this hair issue, although some accept it head on and shave the rest off to be done with it. But for the majority who wants a full head of hair, they are looking into medications, herbal remedies, hair pieces and hair transplant.
But another thing that should be considered when dealing with hair loss is that you should consider the possibility of other causes aside from hormonal changes, although this is no longer under androgenetic alopecia. Certain conditions such as thyroid problems can be a reason for your hair to shed.
Maintenance medications and chemotherapy can have hair loss as side effects. And sometimes the food we eat and our activities can contribute to hair loss. The reason for knowing this is for you to know the right measure to take when treating the problem.
Although it can be a permanent condition, there is still an answer to your hair concerns caused by male pattern hair loss.
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How Bad is Your Hair Loss?
When we talk of rating hair loss the Norwood scale is always the first to come to mind, and is also the most popular. Not only does it help diagnose the approximate extent of hair loss but also helps to avoid misdiagnosing it. This scale is mainly used to diagnose male hair loss.
The Ludwig scale, on the other hand, is used to measure female pattern baldness. Since the manner of hair loss in women is different from that in men, it is important for them to have their own scale in determining the extent of the problem.
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Hair Transplant Methods
There are two methods used by hair transplant surgeons today, and these are the Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT).
Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT or Strip Harvesting)
Developed in the 50’s, this traditional technique requires the removal of a strip of skin from a donor area found at the back side of the head and it is divided into smaller grafts that are then implanted into the affected area, or what is known as the recipient site. It is all done while the patient is under local anesthesia.
The biggest downside with this technique would be a permanent scar on the donor area and the recovery period which normally takes around two weeks.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE or FUE harvesting)
In this procedure, the surgeon harvests the follicles individually from the donor area while the patients is under local anesthesia. The surgeon then grafts them into the affected areas to make the transplant come out as natural-looking as possible.
Between the two, FUE is more popular because the downtime is minimal (around five days) and the procedure itself is less invasive. However, one concern about this approach is having to shave off the hair according to protocol. This means that you have to wait for your locks to grow longer to ensure that any work done is concealed.
The Advantages of FUT
Follicular Unit Transplantation or FUT is the hair restoration technique that transplants the patient’s hair in groups of 1 to 4 hairs called follicular units. This method enables the safe transplant of thousands of grafts in one session, maximizing the impact of the transplant.
Aside from the logistical success of the procedure, the FUT is already a big step into the right direction because it has lessened the risks of additional damage to the hair follicles. The old technology required the multiple harvesting of the strips, damaging the follicular units in each strip. Since everything can be done in one session, the follicles are better preserved.
Getting the donor hair from a safe donor region can be done in two ways. With the Follicular Unit Extraction, each hair graft is individually transferred from the donor site to the balding area. With a Follicular Unit Transplant, the grafts are removed in strips.
Aside from this aspect, both are pretty much the same, with the same goal of transplanting high-quality grafts to achieve the desired results and bring hair back to its former glory without looking artificial. Although there are more clinics that offer FUE, it is because this type needs a smaller team to perform the procedure.
Why Choose FUT Over FUE?
Regardless of their similarities, FUT has become a better option for most patients who are looking for a surgical hair restoration option.
1. Highest Hair Yield compared to other hair transplant methods, thanks to FUT’s method of microscopic dissection method, whose high magnification which makes the harvest of intact hair from good donor areas, possible. FUE, on the other hand, is a sort of a blind approach which could cut through the follicle if done at a poor angle.
Since you don’t have a lot of hair that can be used as grafts, it is very important to make the most of these grafts. FUT allows as many as 3500 grafts to be transplanted.
2. Better Graft Quality from the most permanent donor areas and are not damaged in any form and most importantly have a protective layer of tissue that covers the follicles, which effectively reduces mechanical injury while insertion is being performed. This also gives FUT grafts better chances of being transplanted successfully.
3. Better Hair Coverage compared to FUE, since FUT provides better yield after extraction, and improves your chances of achieving better hair coverage. Also, FUT provides fewer traumas to the head because the hair grafts are removed in one strip.
Other Advantages of FUT
1. Utilization of Donor Hair from the mid-portion of the donor area, which is more resistant to balding, whereas FUE uses more follicular units from the outer portion of the donor area, which is more prone to being lost over time.
2. Utilization of the Donor Sites, where the scarring is localized to one strip and stays that way for all the necessary procedures you may need the follicles for, whereas FUE creates tiny scars that distort adjacent follicular units. This also limits the total amount of hair available with FUE, which prevents complete hair restoration in many patients, particularly those with moderate to advanced balding.
3. Less Scarring of the Donor Area, involves a linear incision, creating a fine scar that can only be seen if the patient gets a very short hair-cut, and which can be removed whenever new donor strips are created. FUE, on the other hand, creates new scars which are added to those from previous procedures.
4. Faster Procedure thanks to the teamwork between the surgeon and hair technicians, versus a lone surgeon performing FUE. In FUT, the surgeon removes the strip of scalp containing the hair grafts, from which hair technicians remove the donor hairs with the aid of a stereoscopic microscope. While this is being done, the surgeon sutures the scalp back together and prepares the recipient site, thus speeding up the process.
The Bottom Line
It takes just one FUT procedure to accomplish what can be done with two to three FUE surgeries.
FUE requires more tedious labour, which is why it costs more than FUT. Since the FUE hair transplant technique requires meticulous removal and specific angles since this procedure no longer uses high powered microscope, certain expertise is required. Surgeons who perform this procedure would therefore charge more compared to an FUT surgeon.
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How much does a hair transplant cost?
Getting a hair transplant needs careful consideration because it comes at a considerable amount of money. Granted that not everyone has the money to go through it, potential patients need to know exactly how much it would cost them.
However, a lot of patients miss to consider that the cost of the procedure includes the consultation, the procedure itself, post operation, and maintenance cost. Forgetting these can sometimes leave the patient in a vulnerable and frustrating position.
At this point, the patient should exhaust all information about the procedure to know exactly how to prepare for it and the figures below will give you specific ideas on what you should save up for.
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Hair Transplant Timeline: The Road to Recovery
We all want to know if a certain action to a problem is the best choice. And when it comes to finding a remedy to hair loss, the use of a hair transplant technique is often considered to be one of the most dependable solutions.
Since it is an invasive and a very delicate procedure, most people are apprehensive and also curious as to how the results come about. So to answer your questions, we’ll take you through a rough hair transplant timeline of recovery in the infographic timeline below.
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Post-Hair Transplant Care
If you should decide to go through with your hair transplant, you should know that your journey towards a new, full head of hair doesn’t stop after surgery. A hair transplant is a delicate procedure which requires attentive and continuous care even after the procedure is completed.
Your surgeon will advise you on any further medication you need to take and the daily activities you’ll have to be extra careful with. Of these, sleeping and shampooing are arguably the activities that require special care.
How to Sleep After a Hair Transplant
One of the common concerns when sleeping with newly transplanted hair is the fear of possibly damaging the area while asleep. But doctors would tell you that it is uncommon for patients to rub their head when they are sleeping.
This is due to the action of your subconscious mind telling your body that there is an injury in the area. It directs your body to preserve that part because it acknowledges the fact that touching it would be painful.
But during those moments of slumber, doctors would suggest patients to sleep on their sides instead of lying flat on their backs. Since the scalp is still very sensitive at this point, a flat lying position can cause swelling. This may take a while to get used to, but it’s a precaution that would definitely be worth it in the end.
It is good to have a pillow arranged in an upright position at the head portion of the bead. This protects your head from bumping accidentally on the headboard.
Watch Your Head
Doctors would often remove the bandage once you get home, so you have to be very careful with your head at all times. This is to prevent any blockage of the venous and lymphatic drainage of the scalp, which then causes swelling. This is something that should not be prolonged because it can also lengthen the healing time.
Don’t insist on dressing your head to assume that it is for protection because doing so will also risk the follicles from sticking to the cover. Most especially when there is still blood or crusting present.
It is also very important that you provide proper support for your head when lying down. Stacking several pillows together at around a 40-50 degree angle can help the swelling to subside. Just make sure that the grafted area is positioned on your pillow comfortably.
If you want to avoid rolling over while sleeping, you can place two large pillows on your side. Some patients suggest that a position where they place their arms and palms face down while they extend the legs can also help stabilize their position.
Other doctors also suggest airplane or travel pillows which are placed around the neck. They have the right firmness and support to prevent irritation on the donor site. It also keeps the grafts safe from rubbing unto the pillow.
To make this early pre-operative days more bearable, you can ask your doctor for medications that will help ease the pain and also to relax. Some clinics give their patients Vicodin (a strong pain medication which also has a sedative effect), while others use Valium or Xanax to help allay anxiety in patients who are overly worried.
But if you want to ensure that your newly transplanted hair grafts remain intact, some hair transplant clinics invite their patients to visit the following day. They can offer to do and demonstrate the first hair wash to ensure the hair grafts are kept in place.
Proper Post-Transplant Hair Washing
Proper hair washing is important if you want to keep your scalp healthy to allow your hair grafts to thrive. The importance of doing this properly is highlighted because this is also essential to a successful recovery. Aside from cleaning the area, it also prevents infection and improves the healing process.
The first 24 hours after hair transplant surgery doesn’t really require any washing, since this is the time where both the scalp and the grafts are the most fragile. So just focus on relaxing and save the washing after a day.
Another thing that you also have to remember is that every surgeon can have their own post hair transplant care regimen. But here are general guidelines that can also help you.
To learn more about hair transplant in Australia, our team of doctors at the Australian Institute for Hair Restoration will provide you with in-depth information during your consultation. This will cover the details of your personalized treatment and cost details.
Call us now or simply fill out our enquiry form to schedule your consultation today!