Hair Transplant: Cost, Risks, Recovery

Overview

A hair transplant is a type of surgery that moves hair from one area of the body to another. It is a minimally invasive procedure and has been carried out in the United States since the 1950s, especially for male pattern baldness. There are two methods for the transplant: follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) or follicular unit extraction (FUE). Hair transplants typically occur in a medical office under local anesthesia. While a hair transplant is the most effective way to increase the amount or thickness of hair, it can be expensive in treatment and recovery.

Candidates

A good candidate for hair transplant includes:

  • Have healthy hair growth at the back and sides of the head to serve as donor areas
  • Have realistic and positive expectations toward the surgery

Cost

The cost of a hair transplant varies greatly and depends on several factors. In general, it will cost between $4,000 and $15,000. There are some factors affecting the cost of a hair transplant:

  • The amount of hair being moved
  • The type of hair transplant procedure
  • The surgeon
  • The patient’s location

It should be noted that some clinics offer financing options or payment plans to help spread the cost of treatment over several installments.

Risks

Like any kind of surgery, transplants have some risks. Side effects of a hair transplant are usually minor and will clear up within a few weeks. They include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the scalp
  • Bruising around the eyes
  • A crust on the treated areas
  • Numbness or lack of sensation on the treated areas
  • Shock loss of the transplanted hair
  • Unnatural-looking tufts of hair

Preparation

Before a hair transplant, the surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications. Carefully following these instructions will make your surgery go more smoothly. They may include the following:

  • Stop smoking at least 24 hours before your surgery
  • Do not have alcohol three days before your surgery
  • Do not have a haircut before your surgery
  • Massage your scalp about a month or two weeks before your surgery
  • Stop taking aspirin or any anti-inflammatory medication two weeks before your surgery
  • Avoid taking anti-depressants, beta-blockers and blood thinning drugs two weeks before your surgery
  • Stop taking any multivitamin, mineral supplements or herbal supplements two weeks before your surgery

Surgical steps

  • Follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS)

FUSS involves removing a strip of skin from a non-bald area. This donor site is usually the back of the head. The cut is then closed and hidden by the surrounding hair.

The strip of scalp that is removed is divided into tiny sections called grafts. They are relocated to the balding areas being treated, known as recipient sites.

  • Follicular unit extraction (FUE)

FUE surgery involves shaving the back of the head and then removing individual hair follicles, as opposed to taking an entire strip of scalp. The donor sites heal relatively well. There are only small noticeable dots, but they are covered by the surrounding hair.

The surgeon will also prepare grafts and place them on recipient areas. The entire process takes 4 to 8 hours, depending on the size of the transplant.

Generally, FUE is less invasive than FUSS, and there is a lower likelihood of complications. Besides, hair follicles can be removed from several areas, rather than from one single site, so hair thickness on the donor sites is not affected.

Recovery

The scalp may be sensitive after hair transplant surgery. Your surgeon will have you wear bandages over your scalp for at least one day or two, and prescribe some pain medications, such as an antibiotic that can prevent infection, or an anti-inflammatory that can stop swelling.

Recovery time depends on the type of surgery. People who have the FUE experience faster recovery. In general, most people will return to work 2 to 5 days after operation. If stitches are used, they will be removed within 10 days.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, most of the transplanted hair will fall out within 6 weeks after the surgery. New hair growth will be visible in recipient areas within months, with hair growing by half an inch every month.


Keywords: hair transplant.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.