An oft heard quote states that "A bad hair day is better than a no hair day." Ask someone who suffers from hair Loss and you would get the root cause of why hair grafting has become so popular worldwide.
Hair grafting, also known as hair transplantation is a cosmetic surgical procedure in which the hair is taken from hair-bearing parts of the head and transplanted in bald areas, where they grow.
Why should I be aware of this?
The principle of hair grafting is based on the fact that even if 66 % of the male population eventually loses their hair on the crown of the head, at some point in their lives, the hair at the rear of the skull and around areas remains. And since this hair is more perennial, doctors have refined the technique of removing some of it and re-implanting it on bald areas. The hair, which is taken, is genetically programmed never to fall, so it proceeds with its normal cycles of life on another part of the scalp.
Technically hair transplant, or surgical hair restoration, is redistribution of the hair. In the initial eras, hair grafting involved making small holes with the help of a cylindrical scalpel. This was called punching. The doctors then took clumps of scalp containing up to larger chunk of hair and grafted it into those holes. This process was painful and also made the grafted hair look fake and unseemly. With time and technology advancements and with the emergence of micro grafts and soft micro grafting techniques, it is nor possible to make the smallest possible graft so as to achieve a greater naturalness.
This was followed by a technique called Follicular Micrografting that saved time, as more hair was grafted in much fewer sessions and provided an extraordinary density. Indeed, Micro follicular Hair grafting has revolutionized this field as it is now possible to-
- preserve the "hair capital" to the maximum,
- get more hair density,
- obtain more natural and faster results and
- reduce considerably the costs.
Hair grafts happen in different shapes and sizes. They can be
- Mini-grafts which involves up to four hairs
- Round punched grafts which involves up to 15 hairs
- Longer strip grafts, which use about 30 to 40 hairs.
Grafts are usually spaced at about 8 inches apart so as to allow optimal circulation of blood across the scalp
In the case of larger patches of baldness, experts use what is called the flap surgery. This involves cutting a hair-bearing flap on the head at one end and sewing it on a bald patch in a way that ensures it is still attached to one end of its former position. This is considered a faster method of hair grafting.
It usually takes more than one session for full hair restoration. Subsequent grafting takes place to balance the density of hair and there is normally a gap of several months between successive sessions, allowing complete healing from the surgery. Hair transplants grow in very gradually and take a full year to completely mature.
Post surgery care
Post the grafting, a dressing is placed on the grafted area to protect it from infections. Although in most cases there is not much pain, sometimes its presence can be treated by simple painkillers. Some itching and swelling occurs but is generally mild. The dressing is removed after seven days. The transplanted hair falls out in about two weeks and generally begins to grow in about three months. Infections are rare but can be controlled by antibiotics. Sometimes the donor site healing may be delayed. The patient may have a sensation of numbness in the operated parts but it usually gets to normal in 2 to 3 months
Psychological effects of hair loss
Hair constitutes an important facet of a person's body and personality. Not only does it have a health benefit as it protects the head from losing heat and prevents harmful solar radiation from reaching the scalp, the loss of hair can result in low self-esteem, insecurity, and even depression.
- Hair loss occurs in more than 60% of men and in approximately 10% of women.
- Hair grafting can be used for the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, moustache and sideburns
- Average costs for hair grafting is generally on a per graft basis
- Hair is made of the protein Keratin. Each hair strand comprises a hair follicle and hair shaft, and has three layers.
- Hair transplants are better when one is older rather than younger as one can know about the pattern and permanency of hair growth
- In most cases women do not make for successful hair grafting cases because the donor supply in women, unlike men, is thin and very limited and not suitable for transplantation
- The blood supply of the scalp can easily sustain the growth of thousands of newly transplant grafts at one time. But the grafts must not be too large and the sites should not be too close together
- People with hair grafting should avoid chronic sun exposure and smoking as it affects the blood flow.
- It is important to do adequate research before opting for the surgery as this is a process that is non reversible
Hair growth pattern
A fully-grown adult normally loses about 10,000 scalp hairs every day, which gets replaced. Hair grows at an average rate of about 0.5 inch per month. Each hair grows for 2 to 6 years, rests for a while and then falls out. A new hair soon begins growing in its place. At any one time, about 85% of the hair is growing and 15% is resting. It is when the loss is not balanced by the growth of new hair, that baldness occurs. The most common area where it is seen is at the temples and/or on the crown or top of the head