What Is A Hair Graft?
One of the main issues with hair health today is hair loss. Before they are 50, about 85% of males experience hair thinning or loss. Before they are 40, 40% of women also undergo various types of hair loss, though typically not to the same extent as males. Sometimes hair loss is accepted as usual.
Given that temporary hair loss is possible, it can be considered normal. In other situations where hair loss is ongoing and baldness is imminent, people make several attempts to stop it. Various hair care procedures and regimens can be performed to reduce or slow down hair losing or thinning.
In this article, we will discuss what is a hair graft and how is it created, why some people choose to do it, what the procedure is, what are some of the drawbacks or concerns of grafting hair, and how best to help it heal after the procedure.
What is a Hair Graft?
In surgical hair transplantation, healthy hair follicles are removed from one region and moved to another where they are no longer viable. The common word for a strip of skin with hair is a "graft." Grafts can be obtained from any part of the body. However, that area is frequently chosen due to the high sustainability of the occipital scalp (the donor zone located on the posterior scalp).
Technology, instruments, and surgical techniques determine the size and shape of the graft. Tissue from the donor location is removed to create hair grafts. The goal is to take a tiny piece of hair-growing tissue and transplant it to a hairless area of the scalp. A strip of hair tissue can be removed from the donor area at once (Follicular Unit Transplantation, or FUT), or the tissue can be removed from the donor area in individual units one at a time (Follicular Unit Extraction, FUE).
With FUT, stereoscopic dissecting microscopes are used to harvest the grafts from the donor strip. These follicular units are prepared for insertion into the recipient's scalp and are conserved. The follicular unit typically contains 2 to 3 hairs. The medical professional makes scalp incisions that match the graft's size. Then, one by one, the grafts are inserted into each recipient site in the correct length and orientation to mimic the existing hair.
It is not required to remove a donor strip while using FUE. Instead, each follicular unit is removed from the scalp separately. Following preservation, the follicular units are implanted into the scalp.
Why do People Need Hair Grafts?
In this article on what is a hair graft and how is it created, we must also understand why some people need hair grafts. A hair transplant is a treatment where a dermatologist or plastic surgeon transplants hair to a bald spot on the head. Typically, the surgeon moves hair from the top or front of the head to the side or rear of the head.
Under local anesthetic, hair transplants often take place in a doctor's office.
Most cases of hair loss are caused by pattern baldness. Genetics is what it comes down to. The remaining cases result from various reasons, such as diet, stress, illness, and drugs for hormonal imbalance.
Getting a hair transplant can boost your confidence and looks. Suitable people for hair transplants include:
- Male pattern baldness sufferers.
- Women whose hair is thinning.
- Anyone who sustained a burn or scalp injury and lost some of their hair.
Hair transplants are not a good solution for
- Women who experience a widespread pattern of scalp hair loss
- Those who lack sufficient "donor" hair locations to harvest hair for transplant
- Individuals with keloid scars (thick, fibrous scars) following surgery or injury
- Individuals whose hair loss is brought on by medications like chemotherapy
A pertinent question to ask at this juncture is who are ideal candidates for hair grafting. If you are in good health, have reasonable expectations for the outcomes of the hair replacement procedure, and still have patches of dense hair growth on your scalp, you might be a candidate for hair replacement surgery.
How is Hair Grafting Done?
A portion of your head is numbed with local anesthetic after a surgeon carefully cleans your scalp. FUT and FUE are the two primary methods utilized to extract follicles for transplantation.
When doing a follicular unit transplant (FUT):
- The back of the head will have a strip of scalp skin removed by the surgeon using a scalpel. Usually, the incision is several inches long.
- After that, stitches are used to close it.
- The surgeon next cuts the little portions of the scalp that were extracted with a sharp surgical knife and a magnifying glass. These pieces, when implanted, will aid in achieving hair growth that looks natural.
Through hundreds to thousands of tiny punch wounds, the hair follicles are directly removed from the back of the head during follicular unit extraction (FUE).
In the region of your scalp that will receive the hair transplant, the surgeon cuts minuscule holes using a blade or needle. In these holes, they carefully insert hairs. A surgeon might transplant hundreds or thousands of hair in a single therapy session.
After that, the graft, gauze, or bandages will cover your scalp for a few days.
A hair transplant procedure can last up to four hours. After your procedure, your stitches will be removed in around ten days.
You can need up to three or four treatments to get the full head of hair you want. Sessions are spaced out by several months to give each transplant time to heal completely.
What to Do Once the Grafting Procedure is Over?
Following hair transplant surgery, you could experience soreness in your scalp and need to take drugs, such as
- Medicines to lower the risk of infection and treat pain
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the chance of infection
After surgery, most people can go back to work a few days later. The transplanted hair often comes out two to three weeks after the treatment. This allows for the growth of new hair. 8 to 12 months after surgery, most patients will notice new hair growth.
To promote hair regrowth, several doctors recommend finasteride (Propecia) or the hair growth supplement minoxidil (Rogaine). Additionally, these drugs aid in reducing or halting future hair loss.
Another popular product to use is a DHT blocker, like HAIRFINITY DHT Blocker. This enriched formula features Saw Palmetto, a powerful DHT blocker, clinically proven to help stop hair loss and promote hair regrowth. Also includes Biotin which promotes the growth and maintenance of existing hair. These hair loss prevention vitamins are safe and effective for men and women.
How Many Grafts Do You Need?
There is no one answer to this question, as the number of grafts people require often differs.
Typically, one square centimeter of scalp receives up to 100 grafts. However, 10 to 25 grafts per square centimeter are adequate for an acceptable outcome. It depends on the extent of the hair loss and the size of the bald spots that need to be filled. The condition of the donor area is also critical.
One person might have 50 grafts per square centimeter, whereas another might only be able to have ten grafts per square centimeter. This differs from person to person since it also depends on the donor area's quality, kind, and hair features.
For instance, extracting several grafts from thin, straight hair is challenging without the remaining hair becoming sparse. More grafts can be removed using different hair types, such as thick or curly hair, because they already look fuller. A study of your hair can reveal more details about your problem.
Depending on how far the hair loss has advanced, the number of grafts required to restore the hair's beauty and fullness. This will impact the design of the transplant. The Norwood Scale used to determine the number of grafts to be transplanted on a potential candidate, is a guideline for evaluating the growth of the balding area.
There are six stages of hair loss according to the Norwood Scale. Patients in stages II and IV require between 500 and 1500 grafts and 2000 to 2500 grafts, respectively, to regrow a full head of hair. During a procedure, approximately 4,000 hair grafts are typically transplanted.
The quantity of grafts removed frequently affects the price of a hair transplant.
Complications of Hair Grafting
For many patients, hair grafting side effects may vary. The fortunate ones may undergo a smooth process, but other people may encounter any of the mild to severe side effects indicated below.
The following are a few adverse outcomes of hair grafting.
Being a surgical process, there is a chance of some bleeding both during and after the operation. Even though the doctor takes precautions to ensure that bleeding is kept to a minimum when doing the surgery, there may occasionally be some bleeding in the donor area. This bleeding should stop soon as pressure is applied to the part. However, you should see a doctor immediately if the bleeding is severe.
If you are having the surgery done in a reputable clinic with a seasoned doctor, infection is something that is very unlikely. However, it's still conceivable. In this situation, a straightforward antibiotic prescription from the doctor will take care of the problem.
Although this might seem the exact opposite of what you were hoping to achieve with your hair graft, there is nothing you can do to change the post-operative condition. You will notice your hair's original thickness in a few months.
Some patients report feeling pain, especially if they underwent FUT hair transplantation. For the same reason, medical professionals frequently recommend medications to treat the discomfort that should ideally go away in two to three days. In the event that the pain persists, you should see a doctor.
When a patient has had FUT (Follicular Unit Transplant), the donor location has a fine line of scarring, although this should eventually disappear. However, the patient's scalp and the healing process only bear on whether the scar is visible. The majority of visible scars can be hidden by short hair growth.
Bruises Around the Eyes and Swelling Scalp
Rarely, swelling of the patient's scalp (the recipient area) might occur due to fluid production. This could also result in discomfort and pain. The swelling should ideally go away in a few days, but if it continues, the patient should see a doctor. How may an operation on the scalp be related to bruises around the eyes? When fluid builds up on the scalp, it can occasionally trickle down toward the eye, developing bruises or even a black eye. As this will mend in a few days, there is no need to panic.
Hair Loss Due to Shock
Another item that can be unexpected is this. The normally healthy and unaltered hair begins to fall due to the surgery's shock, which could raise alarms. But once more, this is a post-operative situation, and the hair will grow back to its normal state.
Itching could result from a string of pimple-like bubbles on the recipient area. Applying a solution to the recipient area should follow this after a few days to keep it well-moisturized.
Some long-term complications to look out for are:
Grafts that do not take
While the patient typically experiences hair growth in the recipient area within a few months, this is not always the case. In some instances, there may have been no new hair growth or simply patchy growth. In these circumstances, the patient must go through the entire process again.
Ingrown hairs could arise from the transplanted hair follicle curling under. Compared to the existing hair, this could make the hair appear unnatural. Additionally, it could irritate the scalp, leading to an infection.
There are treatments available if you're losing hair or your hair is thinning. However, no single treatment is guaranteed to be effective, and the costs can add up quickly—especially since insurance rarely pays for hair loss therapies.
Consider a hair transplant, nevertheless, if you've discussed treatments with your doctor or discovered that other popular hair restoration methods haven't been successful for you. This operation might be worth considering if you are a strong candidate for the transplant and your medical team believes you will likely see great results. We hope this article on what is a hair graft and how is it created helps!