Hair Transplant Series: How does a Hair Transplant actually work?

A hair transplant is a surgical procedure that removes hair follicles from one part of the body, called the 'donor site', to a bald or thinning part of the head known as the 'recipient site'

A hair transplant in the UK can cost anywhere between £1,000 and £30,000, depending on the extent of hair loss, the type of procedure you have, and the quality of the clinic and its team.

Hair transplants don’t work for everyone. They’re mainly used to restore hair if you’re balding or thinning naturally, which is principally caused by the genetic condition, male pattern baldness.

Indeed, as most transplants are done with your existing hair, they’re not as effective for treating people with widespread thinning and baldness or hair loss due to chemotherapy or medication.

Hair transplants are usually carried out under local anaesthetic and sedation, which means you'll be awake but will not feel any pain.

They usually take a day, but you should not need to stay overnight. If a large area is being treated, you may need to have 2 or more sessions a few months apart.

There are two main types of hair transplant procedure, Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) and Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). 

In the FUT method, a strip of scalp is cut out from the back of the head and is dissected into individual grafts.

The FUE method of hair transplantation involves taking the individual follicular units/grafts from the back of the head one by one by cutting around it through a tiny specialised machine and removing them.

For both techniques, anywhere from 10% to 80% of transplanted hair will grow back fully over three to four months. Like regular hair, transplanted hair will thin over time.

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Follicular unit transplantation (FUT)

FUT is sometimes known as follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS) or simply as the ‘strip method’.

To perform a FUT procedure, the surgeon will take the following steps:

  • A thin strip of scalp (skin with hair), is removed from the back of the head
  • The strip is divided in smaller pieces which may be into as many as 2,000 smaller fragments called grafts. Each graft will usually contain 1 to 4 hairs.
  • The grafts are then transplanted into tiny, punctured holes in the scalp in a process known as grafting.
  • The site where the hairs are taken is closed with stitches
  • The surgical sites are then covered with a bandage

The specific number of grafts that are transplanted depends on several factors such as the size of the transplant site, desired covering and thickness, type and quality of hair, as well as hair colour.

The FUT technique often leads to scarring on the back of your head, but it should not be visible unless you have very short hair.

Follicular unit extraction (FUE)

The FUE method is the most advanced hair replacement procedure available.

The FUE technique involves individually harvesting healthy hair follicles from the scalp and grafting them on to the thinning and bald areas of the head.

The FUE technique achieves a more natural look without leaving any visible scars. It enables hairs to be re-planted and follow the direction of the hair's natural growth pattern.

To perform a FUE procedure, the surgeon will takes these steps:

  • Hair at the back of the head is shaved off
  • Individual hair follicles are removed from the donor area 1 by 1
  • Small holes are made in your scalp
  • The hair follicles are grafted into the punctured holes
  • The surgical sites are then covered with a bandage

Post surgery, there will be tiny marks where each follicle was removed from the donor area, and inserted into the recipient area.

The main advantages of the FUE technique include: 

  • No scarring or stitches
  • A more natural look
  • Only the healthy and strong follicles are transplanted 
  • Initial healing takes only 1 to 4 days (potentially no missed days of work)

You should speak with your doctor or a qualified transplant surgeon before proceeding with a hair transplant. You may not be eligible for either procedure (FUT or FUE) based on your hair volume or hair quality.

It is important to understand that neither procedure is 100% guaranteed to be successful. You also need to be fully aware that a hair transplant is a medical procedure and the unforeseen complications that may arise. Man Behind The Mirror - Blog - How Does A Hair Transplant Actually Work - Buy Finasteride Online - Buy Minoxidil Online Now

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Written by Dr. Mike Firth, GP and Medical Director

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