Understanding Surgery of the Scalp
Because of significant surgical advances with improved results, interest in hair replacement surgery has markedly increased during the past decade. The old “plug” look of yesteryear is fortunately gone now replaced with more refined techniques resulting in seamlessly natural results even upon close inspection
“I started losing my hair early. It was a psychological shock, a real blow to my self-esteem. Then, when my wife left me for a young-looking man, I took a long, hard look at myself, and I didn’t like what I saw: an overweight guy who was going bald. I had been used to thinking of myself as a fairly attractive guy, but I didn’t feel attractive any more. It was time for action so I started a physical fitness program and began treatment for hair restoration. Now I look at least 10 years younger than I did before. It’s made a tremendous difference in the way people relate to me – and in the way I feel about myself.” – b o b e . , a g e 4 1
Understanding the Surgery
The most commonly known hair replacement surgery requires taking a strip of hair-bearing scalp from the back of the head. If the incision is closed well, the scar should be barely detectable. The strip is then divided into several hundred or more smaller grafts. These grafts are then inserted into tiny slits in the scalp and must be placed in the appropriate direction to mimic how hair naturally grows on the scalp. While some of the grafts may contain up to three or four hairs, it is sometimes necessary to use a number of grafts containing only one or two hairs to create a natural appearance, e.g., along the hairline.
Micrografts of one or two hair follicles are used along the hairline to give it a soft, natural look.
What to Expect After the Surgery
After surgery, your surgeon may choose to apply a dressing for a day or two. If stitches are used, they are usually removed within 10 days. The second or third day after surgery, you will probably be allowed to shampoo. Your head and scalp may feel tight with some aching, but this can be controlled by medication. It is crucial that you follow the instructions for post-operative visits and care. Swelling in the area treated is likely but should not last for more than a few days to a week at most. Cold compresses may be recommended by the surgeon. Scabbing in the transplanted area is also very common and can be visible during the first week after surgery.
The newly transplanted hair often falls out in the six weeks following the procedure. This, however, is absolutely normal. New hair growth will take about four to six months to start appearing but will require up to 18 to 24 months for the remaining full growth to occur. To attain a look of natural hair growth, it is often necessary to fill in patchy areas, adjust the hairline, or remove excess tissue from areas that have been treated with flap surgery. These touch-up procedures are to be expected and may be required as needed.
Your facial plastic surgeon is the best source of information on what may be required for you as an individual and for your specific surgery. Facial plastic surgery makes it possible to correct many facial flaws and signs of premature aging. By changing
how you look, cosmetic surgery can help improve how you feel about yourself.
Insurance does not generally cover surgery that is done purely for cosmetic reasons. Surgery to correct hair loss from accidents, burns, disease, or trauma may be reimbursable in whole or in part. It is the patient’s responsibility.