Hair transplant surgery begins, after anesthesia is applied, with removing donor tissue. Follicular units are then extracted from the tissue using a stereomicroscope. This is all done by skilled nurses and technicians. The insertion of the hair into the receptor sites comes later.
Once the follicular units for the hair transplant are dissected out of the donor tissue, technicians set them aside in a saline solution. The temperature must be ideal or the small grafts will not survive the procedure. This is done very carefully in order to ensure a good result.
How Hair Is Inserted in Hair Transplant Surgery
The surgeon will make tiny incisions into the scalp where the hair transplant grafts are to go. These are called the receptor sites. They are made with a very thin surgical needle. The surgeon must have an eye for detail to properly set the receptor sites. He must also be very artistic to achieve a natural look, especially at the hairline.
The direction the hair grows, both on the front of the head and at the crown, are very important, too. The doctor must make the condition of the newly placed hair look like the patient’s own natural scalp hair. The angle that the hair is put in determines how much it will stand up from the head.
Once the surgeon has made all the hair transplant incisions that lay out the design he has created, the specially trained surgical team steps in. They use his plan to accomplish his goals, and in turn the goals of the patient. The groundwork is done for them by the surgeon when he does his incisions.
The surgical team takes care to get every hair transplant graft into the receptor sites as they have been laid out. They waste no time, though, because the small grafts are vulnerable when their follicles are outside of the skin. The goal is to get the grafts in as quickly as possible while staying true to the design.
Next, the doctor looks over the hair transplant for quality control. He may take a good deal of time tweaking the placement of grafts before he is satisfied that they are all set properly into their receptor sites in a pleasing fashion. When he gives the ok, the surgical technicians again take over the patient’s care.
The grafts will be more permanently set into place when the technicians dry them by blowing a cool blow dryer across them. This makes them adhere in their place so that no bandages are necessary. The patient will be asked to bring, or will be given, a baseball cap for the ride home from the hair transplant procedure.
The doctor will want to see how the grafts are doing the day following the hair transplant. The patient will go in for a check-up so that any problems can be corrected quickly. If that is not possible, at least plans can be made to correct them at a future time.
The doctor will have done his job with the hair transplant procedure at this point. All that remains is periodic checkups. If the hair loss is extensive, there may be more procedures, but all the hair transplant surgeries will be done with the same amount of care.
What is a hair transplant?
A hair transplant is a surgery that moves hair to bald or thinning areas of the scalp. Also called hair restoration or hair replacement, it’s usually for people who have already tried other hair loss treatments. Dermatologists (healthcare providers specializing in the skin) or plastic surgeons (healthcare providers specializing in reconstructive procedures) perform hair transplants.
How does a hair transplant work?
The healthcare provider takes grafts, or small pieces of skin, from areas of the body that contain healthy hair. Healthcare providers call this area the donor site. It’s usually on your head, at the back of your scalp where hair tends to be thickest. The healthcare provider moves the grafts to hairless parts of the scalp. Once the transplanted skin heals, it should continue to grow hair.
What is the recovery process after hair transplant surgery?
Most hair transplants are outpatient surgeries, which means you can go home the same day as the procedure. Your recovery process will depend on the type of transplant you have. In the days after surgery, you may be able to:
Day 1: Remove bandages.
Day 2: Wash your hair.
Days 3 to 5: Return to work and start light activities.
After 10 days: Remove stitches (done by your healthcare provider).
After 3 weeks: Return to exercise or sports.