Hair Transplant: the Best Surgical Way to Replace Hair Loss
The most popular and perhaps the only surgical way to restore lost hair follicles and boost growth in miniaturized hair is by Hair Transplant. This option is usually put on the table when the above mentioned non surgical ways prove ineffective or when baldness is much more advanced and the only solution left is to opt for a surgical procedure. Moreover, hair transplant is usually the best course of action when a patient permanently loses hair due to genetic disorders or simply as a result of aging.
Nonetheless, there are many considerations that have to be met before a patient is eligible for this procedure. Apart from a sound medical history, it is important for areas of the scalp like the sides and the lower crown to be stable i.e. have enough hair that they can be transplanted to areas that have lost a huge chunk of hair population.
Dr. Agullo and Dr. Palladino are professionals in conducting a thorough analysis prior to a hair transplant treatment. Close to 80% of patients coming in at Southwest have AGA; therefore, the surgeons carefully analyze this condition, determine the stage of hair loss and make informed decisions on whether surgical or nonsurgical ways should be used to counter hair loss.
All the above conditions described in male and female hair loss are important determinants that govern a surgeon’s decision for going ahead with a transplant surgery. Therefore, make sure you attend the consultation sessions with the surgeons and openly discuss any reservations and concerns you may have.
Types of Hair Transplant Procedures
Because hair Transplant has become a popular treatment in Cosmetic Surgery, technological advancement has been geared towards making this procedure more effective and pain free for patients. A number of techniques have been developed that use state-of-the-art equipment to ensure precision and accuracy in extracting and implanting hair follicles on the scalp.
Details of two of the most renowned techniques are given below. The use of one over the other is anything but a random decision. It is based on the Plastic Surgeon’s discretion and a detailed study of a combination of factors mentioned and discussed previously.
Follicular Unit Transplantation
Follicular Unit Transplantation is the most commonly used hair transplant technique. It involves two areas, a Donor site like the sides of the scalp and the back where hair is healthy and a Recipient site where baldness is taking shape.
Hair follicles are extracted from the donor site and implanted in the bald areas. However, FUT is not as simple as that. Once the patient is partially sedated through an IV or the scalp is numbed using local anesthesia, the surgeon removes a strip of tissue from the donor site. This tissue has follicular units, also known as groups of 1-4 hair, in it. Once detached, the tissue is dissected with the aid of a microscope and a specialized team into single follicular units.
In the next step, these newly dissected hair follicles are implanted at the recipient site via tiny incisions, one hair at a time. Hence, FUT is a very delicate and time consuming procedure, during which accuracy is a must.
A FUT procedure was a very unusual way to restore lost hair in patients wherein follicular graft numbers i.e. the number of follicles dissected from the tissue were obtained in chunks. Thus, FUT yielded a very unnatural and ‘cosmetic’ look, something most patients had a hard time accepting.
However, with constant improvements, today a dissected hair follicular tissue or graft has been reduced to the size of a single follicle, with a total of 1600 to 6400 hairs implanted in one sitting. This improvement has given way to a more aesthetic and natural look post surgery. So much so that many experts and observers call the FUT technique ‘an imitation of natural hair growth.’
Follicular Unit Extraction
Follicular Unit Extraction is a surgical procedure for taking out hair follicles from the donor areas in a scarless, minimally invasive manner. The surgeon makes tiny round incisions around each follicle. These incisions are as small as the tip of a pencil; therefore, scarring is a far off possibility with FUE.
Once the incisions are made, follicular units are extracted from within the scalp, one at a time. The number of units obtained can vary depending on how many grafts are needed.
FUE is a lengthy and intricate procedure that can take a few hours or even days to be completed. Because the incisions are so small and precise, a lot of skill and hard work needs to be put in by the surgeon who has to be Board Certified and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
The last step in the FUE treatment is the placement of the follicular grafts in those areas of the scalp that have bald patches. Because each follicular unit is placed individually, this phase takes up as much time as the extraction phase.
FUE can also be done on body parts if the scalp has no area that is seen fit to be grafted. Hair from the beard, chest or even legs can be extracted to make up for lost hair on the head. However, body follicular extraction is a detailed procedure with its own set of complications. Therefore, discuss your options with Dr. Agullo and Dr. Palladino in detail beforehand.
FUE is an ideal procedure for those patients who have had multiple hair transplant surgeries before. Another case that makes an individual eligible for FUE is the texture and the tautness of the scalp. If the scalp is hard and tight, FUE is a better alternative to FUT. It is an ideal method for patients that want to wear their hair short.
FUE techniques can be performed with a number of different tools for extraction of the follicles. FUE can be performed with manual punches, Neograft, Alphagraft, or ARTAS robotic system. The system used for obtaining the FUE grafts does not affect the final result as long as the surgeon is adept and experienced in obtaining the grafts.
Comparison Between FUE and FUT
While both FUE and FUT are highly advanced procedures that require Hair Transplant Surgeons to be trained to perform them, the feasibility of one over the other depends on certain factors. Both treatments are done after an analysis is made regarding the type and level of baldness a patient is experiencing.
A detailed comparison of FUE and FUT can be done keeping in mind a few criteria highlighted below.
Method of Treatment: The primary difference between FUE and FUT lies in the way both procedures are done. While in FUT, the surgeon makes one long incision to take out a strip of scalp, during the FUE treatment, instead of a long incision, many small ones are made to extract follicles.
Similarly, in both procedures, the harvested grafts are placed one by one into the recipient scalp. Hence, while most of the steps in both the treatments are the same, the main difference is seen in the way the follicular units are harvested. Moreover, as a general rule, Cosmetic Surgeons prefer to use FUT for larger transplants with more than 3500 grafts. On the other hand, FUE is a preferable option for smaller grafting quantities.
- Cost of Treatment: FUT is a simple and cost effective approach as compared to FUE because the latter requires greater operating time. The total cost of the procedure is determined by the number of grafts necessary for optimal results and the technique chosen.
- Length of Time: While both procedures are lengthy, FUE is considered more time consuming because making several thousand small incisions is bound to take up more time and effort than a single, long cut.
- Nature of Treatment: Many people have a misconception that FUE is minimally invasive, hence non surgical, while FUT is a surgical treatment. As mentioned previously, the only difference between the two hair transplant procedures is the method of harvesting. Therefore, both are equally effective and equally invasive. The main difference lies in that the FUE technique leaves little or no scarring.
- Healing Time Post Treatment: Healing time is shorter with FUE because the small incisions heal easily within 5 to 7 days. However, it takes a longer time for a long thin scar to heal. Contrary to this, because FUE requires the donor areas to be clean shaved, it is a difficult option to opt for if you prefer to start work and be sociable soon after the transplant.
- Possibility of Scarring: FUE is considered more of a cosmetic marvel because the tiny incisions are hardly ever noticeable. Being smaller than 1mm, there is a very slim chance of scarring with FUE while with FUT, the possibility of a long thin scar is much higher.